Press Release
For Release  June 29, 2000,  at 12:00 p.m.
To: Print and Broadcast Journalists

Re: The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles

Denver, Co., June 29, 12:00 p.m. EDT / Something extraordinary is about to happen to the marriage debate in America.  Beyond left and right, a broad-based, bipartisan marriage movement is about to be born.

On June 29, at the Smart Marriages conference in Denver, leaders of the marriage movement come together to release a new joint statement: The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles. Over 100 prominent scholars and religious and civic leaders have joined together to pledge that "in this decade we will turn the tide on marriage and reduce divorce and unmarried childbearing, so that each year more children will grow up protected by their own two happily married parents and more adults� marriage dreams will come true."

Diane Sollee, Director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, a co-sponsor of the statement, said, "Our current policies are based on acceptance of family breakdown and are focused on dealing with the aftermath and fallout.  This statement leads the way to positive, preventable supports for marriage.  It�s filled with hope."

Signers of The Marriage Movement include: Robert Bellah, William Galston, Martha Erickson, Amitai Etzioni, James Q. Wilson, Judith Wallerstein, Anna Mae Kobbe, Wade Horn, Maggie Gallagher, Mary Pipher, Jeff Kemp, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Charles Ballard, Linda Waite, Mary Ann Glendon, Robert Michael Franklin, and William J. Doherty.  (Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush have been invited -- and we are hopeful that they will agree -- to sign this statement.)

The divorce revolution hasn�t delivered on its promise of happier relationships and families, these experts and leaders warn: "Nostalgia . . . should not blind us to the hard truths discovered over the past thirty years: When marriages fail, children suffer. . .Children suffer when marriages between parents do not take place, when parents divorce, and when spouses fail to create a �good-enough� family bond. We recognize that there are abusive marriages that should end. We firmly believe that every family raising children deserves respect and support. Yet at the same time we cannot forget that not every family form is equally likely to protect children�s well-being."

Nor has our high rate of unwed childbearing produced greater equality and justice for women: "Because few single men become nurturing, dependable fathers, few unwed mothers enjoy the benefits of an equal parenting partnership."

 Signers say support for marriage does NOT require "turning back the clock on desirable social change, promoting male tyranny, or tolerating domestic violence."  Nor do we seek to denigrate single mothers: "Many of us in the marriage movement are single parents or the children of single parents. We know first hand how children suffer and parents struggle when marriages fail. . . .Few parents, single or married, dream of the day their daughters will become single mothers, or their sons turn into absent fathers." The goal is not to bring "shame and distress" but new "hope and support" to the nine out of ten Americans who choose to marry.

Drawing on the latest research and signed by diverse experts in social science, psychology, law, political science, relationships, therapy, and theology, The Marriage Movement emphasizes that marriage is public and not just a private relationship, for several reasons:

Children raised outside of intact marriages are more likely to suffer a wide variety of problems: to be poor, to have health problems and psychological disorders, to
commit crimes and exhibit other conduct disorders, to have somewhat poorer relationships with both family and peers, to get less education, achieve less job success, and have more unstable family lives, even after controlling for race, income and socioeconomic status.  On the other hand, these experts note, both divorce and unwed childbearing create "substantial public costs, paid by taxpayers, in the form of increased education, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid, day care, child support collection, foster care and child protection services costs."

The signers detail a wide array of existing efforts as evidence that a growing, grass-roots marriage movement exists. They also make concrete recommendations, pointing to new ways that parents, families, faith communities, civic leaders, the legal profession, youth workers, marriage counselors, therapists and educators, and medical professionals, as well as federal, state, and local governments can help strengthen marriage.

After June 29, the tired, old Murphy Brown debate is over.  Marriage is not a divisive goal, but a shared aspiration.  It is time, these leaders say, to focus the nation�s attention on a burning new question: how "to rebuild the shattered dream of lasting love and to pass on a healthier, happier, and more successful marriage culture to the next generation.

The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles was prepared under the sponsorship of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, the Religion, Culture, and Family Project of the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the Institute for American Values.

To receive a copy of The Marriage Movement or to arrange an interview with one of the signers or for more information, please contact David Brenner at the Institute by phone (212-246-3942) or e-mail (info@americanvalues.org).

The Marriage Movement also may be downloaded from  its web site at www.marriagemovement.org beginning June 29.  Visitors to the site will be invited to join the list of signatories.