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GOP's Pence promotes marriage to curb poverty

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence said Tuesday that marriage is the best route for breaking children out of the cycle of poverty.

Pence would ask state regulators to assess how state rules and regulations affect families via "family impact statements," an idea pushed by former President Ronald Reagan and then-adviser Gary Bauer, which calls on regulators to think about whether policies promote or dissuade marriage.

Pence opposes same-sex marriage, along with Democratic candidate John Gregg, but his campaign did not respond to questions about whether he would support two men or two women rearing children together. Indiana law bars same-sex marriage, but lawmakers are set to write that ban into the state constitution in the next two years.

The Pence campaign cites research from the conservative Washington-based think tank, the Heritage Foundation, showing most children raised in two-parent parent households perform drastically better as adults. The research was based on U.S. Census statistics. Numerous other studies from both conservative and liberal researchers have reached similar conclusions.

The campaign said in its issue paper released Tuesday that the state would be the first in the nation to use marriage and "the success equation" as the basis for combating poverty. "It is widely accepted in the scholarly literature on poverty and social development that the sure-fire way for a young person to avoid poverty, or what we call 'the success equation,' is quite simple: graduate from high school, work full time or go to college, and wait until you're married before having a child."

Census figures show that the U.S. poverty rate for single parents with children in 2009 was 37.1 percent while the rate for married couples with children was 6.8 percent. Meanwhile, out-of-wedlock births have increased from about 7 percent of U.S. births to more than 40 percent since 1964.

But poverty researchers say the answer to ending the cycle of poverty is much more complicated than wedding more Hoosiers.

"We know that kids in single-parent families are at risk," said Ann Huff Stevens, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California-Davis. "There are two problems: We don't know how to make those families be two-parent families instead, and even if we could, it's unclear that those resulting two-parent families would look like the current two-parent families we have on the better outcome."

Stevens also said it's hard to show that a two-parent family would necessarily look like what Pence is expecting, noting that many poor, single mothers choose to stay unmarried because potential spouses have limited earning potential.

"One of the leading theories is that the men who are potential partners to these women don't have very good labor market opportunities," she said. "So adding a male to a household who doesn't have a high earning potential is not the same thing as creating these two-parent, middle income families."

The Republican congressman also said he would seek to expand Indiana's school voucher program for adopted children and foster families by eliminating means testing as a bar for them receiving vouchers. State lawmakers approved the nation's most sweeping voucher school program last year, but placed income limits on which families can qualify and set other requirements before a student can receive the voucher.

Pence talked about the ideas in an unannounced meeting in Indianapolis Tuesday and later responded to emailed questions.

"The State of Indiana can promote marriage by recognizing the importance of two-parent households and supporting the role of the family. By emphasizing the importance of intact families, Indiana can take the lead in minimizing our children's risk of growing up in poverty," Pence wrote.

Practically, he wrote, the state would begin assessing new rules and regulations impacts on families and also "bring the best minds in the country together on an annual basis to discuss the best policies for promoting the well-being of our families."

Pence has begun talking more about social issues as the governor's race enters its final weeks. Gregg criticized Pence on Tuesday for re-focusing on social issues instead of jobs.

"Why on earth are we talking about the state promoting marriage when unemployment is over 8 percent?" Gregg said in a prepared statement. "Hoosier families come in all shapes and sizes, and our next governor needs to be a governor for them all, not just those that fit in Congressman Pence's social agenda."

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  • More social issues coming
    This portends a tumultous four years if pence is elected. State senator Schneider and Pence will be pushing the teaching of creationism in science classes at a time when everyone recognizes the need to improve math and science education to compete in the world market. With the push to legislate reproductive choices away and turn our schools into churches where faith belittles science, we will be religated to competing with Mississippi for the low skill, low wage jobs that are the only ones hoosiers will be qualified for. Back to the DARK AGES.
  • Waste of time
    I can only agree with the other commenters so far that this is just a breathtakingly stupid idea from Pence. Sadly, this clown will probably be our next governor unless an epidemic of common sense sweeps over the state. My only hope is that after four years of a Pence administration complete with goofy, unconstitutional legislation that appeals only to the far right, lawsuits and costs to taxpayers as these same stupid laws are defended in court and then struck down, the state's love affair with the GOP will finally cool, and we can begin undoing the damage that his "leadership" and that of others like him in the legislature is certain to cause.
  • How??
    How did this guy ever get elected to public office? I am sure we all know single parents, either my choice or situation, have done a superb job in raising their children. Pence is really a dinosaur. With the tea party money supporting him, he will undoubtedly be our next governor and that is scary.
  • Pence makes no sense
    This is nothing short of an attack on any marriage that does not meet his egotistical and narrow view of marriage. Can he please explain why the marriage of two men or of two women in any way undermines the economy or the state of the family? Truly, neither of the aforementioned men nor the aforementioned women would be marrying someone of the opposite sex anyway, so their marriage in no way effects yours or your family...
  • Wow - let's go back to 1950
    Mr. Pence desires to live in a world where everything is pure and perfect. Yet it is anything but that and "marriage" as he defines it doesn't solve the problem. Mr. Gregg is correct, Hoosier families come in all shapes and sizes and we need to focus on ways to help all of them, not just the select few. Mr. Pence please focus on the real issues instead of the social side bars that you seem so desirous of derailing us to. I voted Republican last May but can guarantee you that Mr. Gregg and Mr. Donnely get my vote as people who will unite us as a state!
  • pardon my pence
    Indiana is already 10th in the nation in marriage rates according to the National Vital Statistics Report.
  • Mixed-Up
    Pence is a severe extremist! His goal is to whipe the slate of anything non GOP centric and mold everyone's minds into believeing he is here to help. He is associating any issue with a political party and indicating he is the man to save us......sound like a certain Political propeganda leader from the '30s and '40s? How will we expand economic opportunity by limiting who can get married?
  • Good ole Indiana
    Indiana law bars same-sex marriage, but lawmakers are set to write that ban into the state constitution in the next two years. ----------------------------- Anything they can do to take Indiana back to the dark ages. Join the rest of the states who are enjoying the 21st century.

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