Does Marriage Increase or Decrease Violence Against Women?

May 15, 2002

by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty

The National Organization for Women has come out in strong opposition to marriage incentives to George W. Bush’s proposed Welfare Reform package. They claim, inaccurately, that marriage would “increase the risk of family violence to poor women and children” and complain, “There is no increased funding to help states implement increased work requirements or to fund essential programs that support work, such as child care.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also opposes efforts by the government to encourage marriage. In a letter to Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Welfare programs, ACLU states: “discrimination on the basis of family structure would be invasive of individuals’ privacy to make decisions about intimate relationships and would create unhealthy incentives for low-income individuals to enter into or remain in abusive or dangerous marriages.”

Both the ACLU and NOW have their facts exactly wrong. According to a crime report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2000, “ those who never married became violent crime victims at more than 4 times the rate of married persons.” It would appear that by discouraging marriage, ACLU and NOW actually encourage violence and abuse.

The 1996 Welfare Reform Bill, pushed through a Republican Congress and was vetoed three times by President Bill Clinton before he finally signed it when presented with a veto proof bill. The reform it instituted cut the number of people on welfare in half. President Bush stated, “The welfare budget we’re submitting is $17 billion. That’s the same level it was when we had twice the number of welfare cases we had to deal with. The welfare rolls have declined by half, yet the dollars are the same, which ought to be ample money to help people with training or drug treatment, to give them a chance so that they can work, and realize the dignity of a job. When we reauthorize welfare let us always remember that a job is a central core to someone’s hopeful future.”

In the current discussion about what has caused the moral breakdown of American society, almost no one in the past has listed the easy availability of welfare. In fact, especially those who make their living off the welfare system have attacked any mention of government involvement in the deterioration of the family. As the Welfare roles grew, the American culture, that once thought marriage and families with children the highest good to be attained in life, seemed to abandon that norm for a society “with the most divorces and unwed mothers” in the world.

Not only has the 1996 Welfare Reform bill cut the number of welfare recipients in half, it has also cut the number of children born to unwed mothers. In March 1995, the Council on Families in America issued a report called Marriage in America: a Report to the Nation. It charged, “The divorce revolution - the steady displacement of a marriage culture by a culture of divorce and unwed parenthood - has failed. It has created terrible hardships for children, incurred unsupportable social costs, and failed to deliver on its promise of greater adult happiness. The time has come to shift the focus of national attention from divorce to marriage and to rebuild a family culture based on enduring marital relationships.”

Five years later, the America voters elected a president who seems determined to do exactly that - “rebuild a family culture based on marital relationship.” In February of this year, President Bush alarmed the anti-marriage Left by announcing his “Working Toward Independence” plan which requires “States to Describe Efforts to Promote Marriage as Part of Their State Plan.” States will be required to provide: (1) explicit descriptions of their family formation and healthy marriage efforts; (2) numerical performance goals; and (3) annual reporting of state achievement.” Bush also noted “Children growing up without a married mother and father are more likely to experience school failure, to suffer from emotional disturbance or depression, and to abuse drugs.”

For decades, Welfare programs have discriminated against married parents by refusing aid to troubled families when the husband and father is present in the home, but out of work. President Bush’s plan would “require states to describe their efforts to provide equitable treatment of two-parent married families” under their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs.

Efforts by NOW and the ACLU to continue policies that arose from the discredited notion that divorce and irresponsible sex somehow equates with “freedom” will become a key issue in the November Congressional elections, especially in NOW’s drive to elect senators who will block Bush’s “pro-family” programs and judicial appointments.

Reference Links:

1. Urge House Members to Oppose Harmful Welfare Bill, H.R. 4700 - Paragraph 2

2. ACLU letter to Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - TANF Reauthorization - November 2002 - D. Marriage Preferences in the Allocation of Benefits.

3. U.S. Department of Justice - Marital Characteristics of Crime Victims

4. President Calls for Strong Work Requirements in Welfare Reform - May 13, 2002 - Paragraph 15

5. Low Marriage, High Divorce Rate Hits Kids Hard

6. Marriage in America: Report to the Nation

7. White House - President George W. Bush - February 2002 - Working Towards Independence - Promote Child Well-Being and Healthy Marriages


Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America, edited the Reagan Monthly Monitor and talk show host Michael Reagan’s Information Interchange for seven years. She now operates the website, Banner of Liberty.

Send the author an E mail at

For more of Mary's articles, visit her archives.

Site Meter

To comment on this article, please send us an e mail.

To send this article to a friend, click here.

For a full issue of Conservative Truth, available only to our subscribers,
please join our list! To subscribe click here.
Conservative Truth Home Page OpinioNet Home Page
Home Tom Barrett About Us Aldrich Alert Humor
Subscribe Contact Us Links Search Archives