NGLTF Joins Call to Defeat Horn Nomination

June 14, 2001

HHS Assistant Secretary nominee would discriminate against unmarried parents and their children

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today joined a coalition of groups (below) opposing George W. Bush's nomination of Wade Horn. Horn has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Family Support, the top family policy position in the Department of Health and Human Services. Horn's reactionary views are out of touch with the changing demographics of families in the United States and pose a particular threat to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families.

As the head of the National Fatherhood Initiative, Horn has aggressively advocated denying access to federal programs to families not headed up by a married man and a woman. These programs include Head Start, public housing, financial aid for education expenditures, job training and others.

Horn has written, "If we are serious about encouraging marriage, and by extension, fatherhood, we should make these limited-supply benefits available first to married, two-parent families."

"More than half of the children growing up today will spend some of their childhood in a single-parent family - whether because of choice, divorce, separation, death or - in the case of many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples - because they cannot legally marry," said NGLTF Executive Director Lorri L. Jean. "George W. Bush campaigned on a theme of 'Leave No Child Behind.' If the U.S. Senate confirms Horn's nomination, we might as well change that slogan to, 'Leave No Child Behind As Long As Their Parents Are Happily Married Heterosexuals.'"

According to the 1990 Census, one in five lesbian couples had children living with them, as did five percent of gay male couples. And new statistics that are just now being released by the U.S. Census Bureau show a dramatic rise in the number of reported same-sex, unmarried partner households.

"This is the context in which Horn's nomination poses a threat to GLBT families," Jean said. "The nuclear, mother-father-child family that Horn would give preferential treatment to now represents fewer than one in four U.S. families."

According to a detailed analysis prepared by the National Organization for Women Legal Defense and Education Fund Horn also:

  • Opposes abortion, opposes no-fault divorce and views the National Organization for Women as a "radical feminist organization."

  • Believes the Southern Baptist Convention statement "that a wife should 'submit' to her husband's servant leadership" and "serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation." He quotes from the New Testament that "the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church."

  • Believes that mothers want fathers to participate in caregiving as subordinates, not as equals. "By this, I don't meant to imply that mothers do not want their husbands to be involved dads," Horn once wrote. "They do. "But they want that involvement to be on their terms, with themselves as the 'field generals' and the fathers as 'enlisted men.'"

Horn was also involved in the "parental rights" movement of the early- to mid-1990s that sought to make it more difficult for the government to investigate child-abuse cases and easier for parents to prevent not only their children but other parent’s children from being exposed to sexuality education and life-saving information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. That movement failed, largely due to opposition from teachers, progressive clergy and social services advocates.

NGLTF this week sent a letter to members of the Democrat-led Senate Finance Committee asking committee members to oppose the Horn nomination. Text below.


The text of the letter delivered to the members of the Senate Finance Committee:

June 14, 2001

Dear Senator_______:

We are writing to urge your opposition to the nomination of Wade Horn as Assistant Secretary for Family Support at the Department of Health and Human Services. We ask that you investigate the writings and philosophy of Mr. Horn and that you question him thoroughly when he comes before the Senate Finance Committee for confirmation.

The HHS Assistant Secretary for Family Support, the country’s top family policy post, will be making important decisions and recommendations on many critical public programs which serve predominantly lower income children and families, including welfare, childcare, child welfare, child support, adoption, foster care, child abuse and domestic violence. The person who holds this job will also influence the Administration’s positions and activities dealing with next year’s reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) programs. This person must be able to understand and promote the needs of ALL families in our society.

Wade Horn wants the government to promote marriage by penalizing families where the parents divorce, separate, or do not marry. He also wants the government to tell unmarried mothers to surrender their children for adoption. There is very little "support" for families in these sentiments.

With Wade Horn as Assistant Secretary for Family Support, we fear a Department of Health and Human Services that will penalize, and promote discrimination against, families headed by a divorced, separated, or never-married parent or where both parents live in the home but are not married. Horn has written that single parent families should be denied public benefits whose supply is limited – such as public housing, Head Start, and child care – unless all married couples have been served first. Horn has written that cohabiting parent families should be denied any welfare benefits at all, and kept at the end of the waiting list for other benefit programs.

Due to divorce, separation, death, abandonment or their parent’s never-married status, more than half the children growing up today will spend some of their childhood in a single-parent family. An increasing number of children live in two parent families where the parents delay marriage, choose not to marry or are prevented by law from marrying. Horn advocates penalizing all these children.

By supporting Wade Horn’s nomination as Assistant Secretary for Family Support at the Department of Health and Human Services, President Bush’s campaign call to "Leave No Child Behind" rings hollow. If the President’s true intention is to support all of America’s families and children, rather than judging and penalizing many, he should appoint an individual who can work with Congress, our states and our own dedicated organizations to ensure that we will be more – not less – compassionate when dealing with our children and families living at or near poverty.


Abortion Access Project
AIDS Action Committee
Alternatives to Marriage Project
American Ethical Union
Applied Research Center
Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Boston Coalition of Black Women
Boston Women's Health Book Collective
Business and Professional Women/USA
Center for Community Change
Center for Reproductive Law and Policy
Center for Third World Organizing
Center for Women Policy Studies
Center on Fathers, Families and Public Policy
Chicago Jobs Council
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network
Children’s Foundation
Choice USA
Coalition Against Poverty
Coalition for Ethical Welfare Reform
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
Communications Workers of America
Community Voices Heard
Displaced Homemakers Network of New Jersey
Empire State Pride Agenda
Family Economic Initiative
Family Planning Advocates of New York State
Feminist Majority
Finding Common Ground Project at Columbia University
Grassroots Organizing for Welfare Leadership (GROWL)
Hawaii Coalition for the Prevention of Sexual Assault
Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Hesed House
inMotion, Inc.
Institute for Wisconsin's Future
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Jewish Women International
Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness
Make the Road by Walking
Massachusetts Welfare Rights Union
McAuley Institute
Men for Gender Justice
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Association of Commissions for Women
National Black Women's Health Project
National Center on Poverty Law
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Employment Law Project
National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Organization for Women (NOW)
National Women's Conference
National Women’s Political Caucus
New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
9to5, National Association of Working Women
Nontraditional Employment For Women
North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Northeast Missouri Client Council for Human Needs
Northeast Washington Rural Resources Dev. Assoc
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
Pennsylvania Lesbian and Gay Task Force
People United for Families
Planned Parenthood of New York City
Poor People's United Front
Progressive Challenge Project, Institute for Policy Studies
Public Justice Center
Rural Law Center
Sociologists for Women in Society
Survivors Inc.
Texas Council on Family Violence
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Voters For Choice Action Fund
WEEL (Working for Equality and Economic Liberation)
Welfare, Education, Training Access Coalition
Welfare Law Center
Welfare Made a Difference Campaign
Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition
Welfare Warriors
Women's Center at the University of Oregon
Women's Committee Of 100
Women Employed
Women's Environment and Development Organization
Women's Housing and Economic Development
Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press
Women's Institute for Leadership Development
Women's Law Project

(For further information about NOW LDEF, contact Timothy Casey, Senior Staff Attorney, NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund, 395 Hudson St, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10014, tel: (212) 413-7514,


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.