Pence: Intact families key to strong economy

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Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Tuesday that the state should encourage young people to get married and only have children after they’re married to keep the Indiana economy strong.

Pence was speaking at the state’s first Family and the Economy Summit, an event his administration organized that included a number of national scholars and experts on family issues.

“It’s about the relationship between strong families and advancing economic opportunities for all Hoosiers,” the conservative said during his speech at the Indiana State Library.

“Family is a key indicator of success and we’re looking for ways that we can encourage more young people to get married, to stay married, to wait to have children until they’re married is very important,” he said.

Pence – who is being pushed by some conservatives to run for president – said that since he took office as governor last year, his administration has been putting “the interests of strong families at the very center of our policies on development.”

“The future of our children is impacted greatly by the nature of their relationship with strong, intact families that have a direct relationship to the opportunities and the economic advantages and the educational outcomes of our children,” he said.

But later on Tuesday, a group pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Indiana, said non-traditional families can also be a boon for the economy.

“We believe in the strength of all families and want to make sure committed, loving couples are able to marry in our state and have their marriages elsewhere respected here,” said Kyle Megrath, marriage coordinator for Hoosiers Unite for Marriage.

Pence opposes same-sex marriage, although he didn’t mention the issue on Tuesday. Instead, he cited other steps he said his administration has taken to strengthen the foundation of families: State agencies must draft a family impact statement to ensure that no rule or regulation would be a detriment to healthy families. Pence signed legislation this year that expands and improves adoption in the state. And Pence signed a bill to create a state-funded pre-kindergarten program for low-income children.

The administration also held the state’s first summit on infant mortality last year.

Pence called Tuesday’s family summit not just a conversation – but a conversation looking at the facts.

“Research has shown that a sure-fire way for a young person to avoid poverty is what is called the ‘success equation,’” Pence said. “If a person graduates from high school, goes to college or gets a job, and waits to have children until they are married, the chance of them actually living in poverty is so statistically insignificant that it almost doesn’t exist.”

He said no state in the country has used this equation as their economic poverty strategy.

“We want Indiana to lead the way and to show our young people, based upon time-honored facts and real data, the pathway out of poverty is to make the right choices, including waiting to have children until you’re married,” Pence said.

But Pence said the summit was not meant to diminish the work of single parents.

“Our single parents in Indiana are heroes,” Pence said. “Every single one of them.”

The governor said that one of the state’s most troubling statistics is the prevalence of childhood poverty within the state.

In Indiana, one out of five children lives in poverty, Pence said.

“That is unacceptable and we, in Indiana, are determined to bring the best practices and the best ideas to give our children the pathway out of poverty,” he said.

Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, said the public should not be misled by celebrities and the powerful, who sometimes have their messy lives play out in public while they still appear to remain privileged.

He added that, in recent years, studies have shown that marital happiness rates remain comparatively high and non-marital childbearing remains low.

Wilcox also talked about educational trends and how they affect marriage and the economy.

“Divorce is nearly three times more common amongst Americans who do not have a college degree,” Wilcox said.

He said, right now, the nation is in danger of separation where the highly educated and affluent enjoy strong, simple households and everyone else is left unstable and unhappy.

“This marriage divide is unacceptable,” Wilcox said.

He said that nearly 50 years ago, hardly any major class divides existed.

So, what exactly has caused the shift since then? Changes in the economy and moving from an industrial-based society to service and information, along with the effect it has had on jobs, could be a factor, Wilcox said.

Another reason could be cultural change, he said. Society has moved toward a culture that is more focused on being individuals and fulfilling personal desires.

And he said information shows boys that are raised in an intact family with a mom and dad are about half as likely to have a problem with the law. The research also showed that girls who are raised with a father in the picture are significantly less likely to become pregnant as a teenager.

Higher-educated Americans tend to discuss the idea of marriage and have more concerns about divorce than less-educated people, he said.

“A good education is a ticket to the American dream,” Wilcox said.


  • Perfect world
    Well in this "perfect" republican world people don't have children out of wedlock, they don't get divorced, they aren't gay and on and on. But it's OK if someone like Newt Gingrich has had 2 or 3 wives and Clint Eastwood jumps in and out of relationships with younger and younger women while fathering out of wedlock children, right?
  • Can' See the Governor's Logic
    I am trying to understand Pence's logic. It seems to be rather shallow thinking particularly given all the comments this article has engendered. I have always thought that education, good work ethic, job opportunities, and responsible behavior were the foundational aspects of a sound economy. I am not sure how marriage and children are the answers to growing the economy, particularly when the state is seeing average household income eroding with respect to other states. How simple is this governor?
  • Wedded bliss
    Perhaps Mr Pence ought to make divorce illegal for any parents with children. In addition, remove all children from 'non-intact' families and place them with 'intact' families. That does appear to be where he is headed with his statements. They seem to be geared towards grabbing some of that Koch brothers funding.
  • Excellent reply
    John Smith-Your reply is exactly correct. Thank you for posting.
  • anti-democratic noisy but small chorus of individualists
    In America which worships individualism like some kind of golden calf, a modest statement in favor of families invites quite a lot of vehement criticism it seems. Thing is, besides the ten or twenty comments this article will garner, there are millions of other Hoosiers (pop. is about 6.5 M) who have opinions too. And the majority are against elevating homosexual partnerships to the level of heterosexual marriage. Hello: the state has had a role in "morals" since the time of Hammurabi and the Pharoahs, Greece, and Rome. It had a role at the time of the Indiana territory joining the union today. It has a role now and in the future. Gov Pence: don't let the small but noisy chorus of strident voices stop you from doing your job to support the democratic will of the majority of Hoosiers. I think it's funny that America is supposed to be such a big fat wonderful democracy right up until somebody grows a new set of "rights" that weren't recognized not long ago and then suddenly the democratic will doesn't mean squat. In my small and insignificant opinion, the worst thing you can say about republicans is that they are guilty of aggression and hypocrisy for going around the world starting wars to impose this kind of phony stuff on other nations. IN a way this is a tempest in a teapot. The die has been cast already at the federal level. So don't worry, pro-gay activists: you have the favor of the rich and powerful now, so, you can count on the US Supreme Court to keep pushing the ball forward for you in spite of the opinion of the democratic majority of "small minded" Hoosier "bigots" that dare to have an opinion about marriage that coincides with about 3000 years of history.
    • All about me...
      Funny how some groups still think they are being talked about when the conversation isnt even about them. I see that children arent listed in your list of belongings. Material items dont make a family.
    • Same here
      I have a same-sex partner as well and have all of the things you mentioned (well, minus the 'get-away' house LOL). It's funny that he focuses on this as a talking point given all of the corruption in government as a whole. It is clearly the sign of someone with a personal agenda vs what is good for the state as a whole. Jobs, crime, infrastructure....those are the things he should be focusing on. It's sad, really, that he can't accept that not everyone fits into his very compact ideal of what society should be.
    • Mandated morality
      Welcome to Indiana... in the 1950s.
    • Pence is wrong
      What he should have said was "children born out of wedlock & children who's parents have divorced face much tougher circumstances, morally, economically & educationally, than those born to a couple who are committed to each other and where that commitment does not waver." So fellow Hoosiers how do we accomplish that? Might it be to teach abstinance? To teach that decisions and actions have consequences? That creating a child does not relieve you, ever, of the responsibity of that child and you don't get an "easy" way atound that child? Isn't because there are so many children and there are limited opportunities that there is so much desperation? The inexperienced want & expect to have sex without consequences and resposibility. All that does is put children in very difficult circumstances or get that child killed. Why not educate today's youth on this rather than a this YOLO crap?!
    • Pence was a mistake
      Managed morality will be the undoing of the republican party.
    • Mayfield, ca 1950's
      I'm sorry, but did Mike Pence play the part of Whitey on the old Leave it to Beaver show? If not, that's certainly the era and the morals and the time period he is so desperately either trying to cling to, or move us back to. I'm sorry, Mr. Pence, but things have changed. Housewives, for those who still exist, do NOT do their housework in heels and pearls, nor do they all have household help. Things, and times, have changed. I've been married for nearly 35 years, we're very typical people, have a lovely home in the suburbs, a "get-away" home, two cars (a sports car and an SUV) and mortgages: we pay our taxes and we do everything else, the same way as everyone else. Oh, wait, we're a same-sex couple. Whoops, I guess we don't qualify for life in your world...
      • Adoptions in Indiana Don't Count for Pence
        After reading the Mike Pence comments on marriage and families, I though how nice that would fit into the glossy campaign literature-- that he cares about families and children. Then I remembered a recent IBJ article about how the Republican Gov's including Daniels and Pence cut back on the agreed-upon payments to adoptive parents by taking money from the DCS (Dept of Children's Services) so they could boast of a "subsidy" in the Indiana Budget. See article, "Local law firm seeks class action over state adoption subsidies" from 6/3/2014. It really sounds like Pence is praising those intact families that have the freedom of choice to wait to have children while on the other hand casting out those who would adopt children who fall under unfavorable circumstances. Again, it's another reason to leave Indiana (vote with your feet) OR to stop voting for these people who claim to care for Hoosiers but don't show it with their actions.
      • Thank you!
        I read this article with a growing sense of dread and disgust - realizing that Indiana is being led by someone with such narrow views, and by someone who feels it is his duty to tell his voters how they should live. I was greatly relieved, therefore, to read the comments here.
      • Forward Thinking
        This is the reason why our young people are getting degrees at our great universities....then moving to different state. Indiana is viewed by others and our young future leaders as a backward state. You can be a republican based state and see as a desirable innovative place...ie.....Colorado! But when you tie it to beliefs that center around success equals marriage and having babies....and it must be a man and a woman.....you lose with younger generations. They are open minded...and they are right to be so.
      • This guy is dangerous
        He clearly does not live in the 'now' and would be best suited to have lived his adult life in the 50s and 60s. He's pushing his own agendas as governor...imagine him as president. That's scary.
      • Sigh....
        ... our Governor is a moron.
      • Selective Governing
        I stay fairly party agnostic because of articles like this. Republicans want you to be free of large government, but they do not want you to be free of legislated morality.
      • duh
        Come on, it has taken a leader this long to make this statement. It is common knowledge that the downfall of society begins with the downfall of the nuclear family, a man and a woman married, and not same sex marriages.
      • Governor 1980
        That shall be his new nickname.
      • Unstable/Unhappy
        It's comforting to know that our governor is spending his time with thought leaders like Mr. Wilcox. "He added that, in recent years, studies have shown that marital happiness rates remain comparatively high and non-marital childbearing remains low." I'd love to hear how these figures are quantified. It was a strong move involving this "national scholar" in this "conversation looking at the facts." I wonder why the failure of HJR-3 wasn't one of the facts they looked at?
      • Can't wait wait
        What Pence should have said was, “We want Indiana to lead the way and to show" the rest of the country how backward some of us in the state really are. I can't wait for him to be chased out of the presidential race and then the governor's mansion. Lack of opportunity breeds poverty, not lack of a traditional family. His statements should insult three-fourths of the population.
      • Just a thought
        "He said that nearly 50 years ago, hardly any major class divides existed." 50 years ago was 1964. Anyone with a glancing memory of American history, particularly civil rights history, knows that this isn't true. There may have hardly been major class divides among the white population, but the country as a whole was drastically and starkly divided by class, directly attributable to institutionalized and overt racism, even if those being marginalized and discriminated against were married. It's amazing that this statement was not challenged.
      • Yeah Right
        Typical Republican trying to force his views upon others. Having children is up to the couple involved and what's this Governor, what if they marry someone of the same gender.

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