Let Them Eat Wedding Rings Report Questions Marriage Promotion in Welfare Reform

Update: Download the Second Edition (PDF), released June, 2007.

Groundbreaking report provides the perspective of those who are directly affected by efforts to promote marriage: unmarried people.

January 28, 2002

Let them Eat Wedding Rings coverUnmarried Equality (UE) released a new report, Let Them Eat Wedding Rings: A Report on Marriage Promotion and Welfare Reform, to comment on the misguided attempts to end poverty by using welfare dollars to promote marriage. The report, released January 28, shows that marriage-promoting policies harm more children and families than they help.

“I’m very concerned about the families who are already being punished because of their marital status,” says Dorian Solot, one of the report’s authors and the Executive Director of UE.

Marshall Miller, the report’s co-author, adds, “Promoting marriage may be done with the best intentions, but it is simply unfair to discriminate against families because they’re not married.”

Solot says the title of the report is significant. “You can’t feed your children wedding rings or pay your electric bill with your marriage license. Weddings for poor people might make us feel good. But let’s stop pretending they can substitute for poverty-fighting programs that have been proven to work.”

The 12 page report concludes that:

  • Welfare policies should not discriminate on the basis of marital status.
  • Welfare reform’s priorities should be the reduction of poverty, improved well-being for poor children and adults, and respect for families of all kinds.
  • Recent studies prove that marriage is not an effective solution to poverty.
  • International comparisons demonstrate that there is no clear relationship between marriage rates and child poverty.
  • That there are many complex and understandable reasons why people are not married.

Let Them Eat Wedding Rings is part of the national conversation assessing the 1996 welfare reform law, which must be reauthorized by Congress and signed by the President this year.

The report can be downloaded for free in PDF (Adobe
Acrobat
) format. Printed copies can also be purchased from Unmarried Equality for $5 (shipping and handling included).

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