Press

NGLTF Outraged by Bush Proposal to Spend $300 Million to Promote Heterosexual Marriage

Date: 
February 26, 2002

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) attacked elements of the Bush Administration welfare proposal that call for significant federal and state funding of programs to promote and foster heterosexual marriage.

Released today, Bush’s plan will call for "encouraging healthy marriages and two-parent married families as a goal." This includes the expenditure of $300 million for projects devoted to promoting heterosexual marriage, of which $100 million will subsidize state and local experimental projects for pre-marital counseling and education as well as research to foster sound marriages. Already several states offer cash bonuses to welfare recipients who marry.

"Lesbian mothers on welfare cannot marry," said Sean Cahill, Ph.D., Director of NGLTF's Policy Institute and co-author of "Leaving Our Children Behind," a report on the effects of welfare reform on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. "The safety net should support all families in need, not only those which pass a conservative litmus test. Bush's proposal privileges particular kinds of families while penalizing and stigmatizing others."

"The proposal released today is based on political motivations, not social science research," Cahill noted. "Mandatory marriage is not the answer to poverty."

The NGLTF report showed that key elements of the welfare reform plan threaten not only low-income gay people, but also all members of the GLBT community, regardless of income. The primary areas of concern are fatherhood and marriage initiatives, abstinence-only education, and the faith-based initiative. The 1996 welfare reform law requires lesbian and bisexual mothers to identify their child's biological father in order to receive benefits, and mandates abstinence-only education that spreads misinformation and stereotypes about homosexuality and GLBT youth.

Several Bush appointees have promoted ideas that would devastate millions of GLBT and single parent-headed families. These proposals include effectively denying benefits like Head Start slots and student loans to children of unmarried parents, and requiring mutual consent for divorce. Wade Horn and Andrew Bush, two of Bush's top welfare and family policy architects, endorsed a proposed ban on gay adoption and a ban on two-parent welfare benefits to unmarried couples. Horn called 'the notion that all family structures are...all equally good for children" the "enemy" of those concerned about child welfare.

"All of us committed to economic justice should pay close attention to the reauthorization of welfare reform this year, and in particular to the Bush Administration’s fatherhood and marriage initiatives," cautioned Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director of NGLTF. "Marriage and fatherhood initiatives threaten millions of single-parent and unmarried two-parent families with children. They are a monumental waste of money that could be put to much better use to lift people out of poverty."

To download NGLTF report "Leaving Our Children Behind,"
visit http://www.ngltf.org/library.

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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.