Because there’s obviously nothing else we could be doing with the money, the federal government has spent nearly one billion dollars since 2001 on marriage promotion:
Since 2001, the government will have spent about $800 million on the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI) by the end of the fiscal year. That year was when the Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children & Families decided that strengthening marriage was one of the nine main priorities for the agency. Spending increased by $117 million between 2000 and 2010, including a $150 million boost as part of the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act, peaking at $142 million for 2009. HMI programs can use the money on marriage education, skills training, and mentoring programs, as well as public advertising campaigns and high school education programs.
Even though it seems like a (sad, terrible) joke, promoting marriage as a federal policy priority for getting women out of poverty has a long and sordid history in the United States, even though it’s actually a pretty useless waste of everyone’s time and money – to say nothing of the heavy dose of moral superiority with which these initiatives just ooze. This is the history that marriage equality is a part of, don’t ever get it twisted.
There’s probably a good reason for every dollar wasted on marriage promotion to focus on something else, but here are five solid policy priorities that would actually advance economic justice for women:
- Paid sick and family leave for all workers
- Increasing the minimum wage
- Truly universal access to health care (single payer what!), or at least fucking expand Medicaid in all the states
- Universal access to child care
- Increase the power of organized labor
But we don’t have money for these things, right? Right.