, Volume 68, Issue 7-8, pp 517-519
Date: 10 Nov 2012

A Critical Lens on Marriage Promotion

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In 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, introducing sweeping changes to the United States’ welfare reform laws. The legislation ended federal welfare benefits to poor families, instead prioritizing job preparation and work programs as part of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds (p. 2). It also sanctioned marriage promotion as an acceptable use of these funds (p. 2), with the purpose of “assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes; reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2012). Although governments were initially slow to use the money in this manner, the last decade saw tremendous growth in marriage promotion. Oklahoma became the first state to focus on marriag