Cover Story

Remaking the American family

"Remaking the American family" Continued...

Issue: "Remaking the family," March 6, 2004

Marriage Savers is working to reverse that trend. The group has since 1996 helped pastors in 184 cities adopt "community marriage policies." Churches in a given community agree not to marry couples unless they complete four months of premarital preparation. Pastors also agree to train "mentor couples" within their own congregations who can help coach other husbands and wives through troubled times. The plan seems to be working: According to a two-year study by the Institute for Research and Evaluation of Salt Lake City, the divorce rate in counties with the agreements has fallen 17.5 percent since 1996, compared with 9 percent in similar counties that did not have such policies in place.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration last year announced its "Healthy Marriages Initiative," which earmarked $120 million in public funds to strengthen marriages through community-based programs. Other groups also are fighting to prevent poor marriages and repair marriages gone sour. University of Colorado-based PREP focuses on improving communication between spouses, while a Washington, D.C.-based group called "Smart Marriages" helps couples approach matrimony as a skills-based relationship.

As such groups fight to preserve traditional marriage and family, sociologists, historians, and pundits warn against both the catalogued and unforeseen consequences of America's newest family experiment, the same-sex-parented household. For example, the chief predictor of crime in a neighborhood is the percentage of homes without fathers. According to national health statistics, children from homes without fathers are five times more likely to live in poverty, three times more likely to fail in school, two to three times more likely to develop emotional and behavioral problems, and three times more likely to commit suicide.

The same-sex-marriage movement has yet to counter such statistics. Nor has it answered the questions such research logically raises, like: Do two moms equal one dad? Can two dads replace a mother's love?

History and research say no.

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