As National Marriage Week concludes, citizens should consider the role policy plays in rebuilding a culture of marriage in America.
The institution of marriage plays a unique and important role in orienting men and women into a lifelong commitment to one another and any children they might have. Marriage not only affords many personal benefits to married men, women, and their children; it also serves as the building block of a thriving civil society.
Despite the many positive influences of intact married families on men, women, children, and society, the government has too often created the wrong incentives in policy—such as marriage penalties in the tax code and welfare programs. Policymakers should instead promote the many benefits of marriage to individuals and society and eliminate policies that offer incentives not to marry.
Marriage needs public advocates with access to the bully pulpit to champion marriage and shape cultural consensus—in contrast to the sitcom-style mockery that often denigrates marriage. Sadly, this promotion of marriage was largely absent during the 2012 election cycle; little on the campaign trail addressed the importance of marriage and the role it plays, for example, in reducing poverty.
Public policy should strengthen America’s marriage culture, not weaken it. As National Marriage Week comes to a close and the many benefits of marriage explored (including here and here), Americans should recommit to building a culture of marriage—from the halls of Congress to the family dinner table.