I’ve read at least half a dozen blogger reactions to the proposal to spend $1.5 billion to promote marriage. Since it is among the stupidest things I’ve ever heard proposed–and I used to teach college for a living–I’m heartened to report that none of the reviews thus far has been positive.

By far the best response I’ve seen so far has been from Matt Yglesias:

Instead of allocating $1.5 billion to marriage-promotion initiatives, I think the president really ought to consider establishing a Cabinet-level Federal Dating Service or something. It could be like Friendster and a goofy reality TV show rolled into one. And it’d make a hell of a State of the Union topic: “For too long, millions of Americans have spent their Saturday nights at home, watching lame television shows. . . .”


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    Well let me be the curmudgeon that says if we fund “safe sex” education, “don’t smoke” and all that other crap at least this one is for the betterment of society!

    It’s funny- when federal dollars are spent to promote lefty happy ideas the answer is always that we don’t spend enough.

    When it is proposed that the feds support (gasp) marriage everyone freaks out.

    There wouldn’t be a double standard any were in there now would there? Na… Never.


    For the record, I say we don’t fund any of it but if we accept the policy, marriage is hardly the one to complain about.

  2. Mithras says:

    Let me make another cynical prediction: The $1.5 billion will be funneled to churches which will do the “skills training.” Election year boondoggle = win/win!

  3. Jon says:

    Mithras, you’re right. This is more about government-endorsed gay-bashing and about giving $$$ to fundies than about helping marriage. Getting married isn’t going to help poor people magically find money.

  4. Paul says:

    Did somebody say something about double standards???

    I never woulda guessed.

  5. Thorley Winston says:

    From the NYT article:

    Under the president’s proposal, federal money could be used for specific activities like advertising campaigns to publicize the value of marriage, instruction in marriage skills and mentoring programs that use married couples as role models.

    Federal officials said they favored premarital education programs that focus on high school students; young adults interested in marriage; engaged couples; and unmarried couples at the moment of a child’s birth, when the parents are thought to have the greatest commitment to each other.

    I have no problem agreeing that such a proposal is a bad idea because it is neither a proper nor a constitutional function of the federal government. However, neither is spending federal tax dollars on “violence prevention programs,” after-school programs, AIDS awareness campaigns, Americorps, population control, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, the Office of the Surgeon General, or numerous other “promotional” and “awareness” programs which are often sold to us as either being “preventative” of some social ill.

    I assume of course that the same people snickering at a proposal to promote marriage would also favor the wholesale elimination of taxpayer support for these other programs as well.

  6. James Joyner says:


    I think many of the programs are silly and some are of dubious constitutionality. But most of them are different than the marriage proposal. Who isn’t fully aware that people get married?

    Most of the other programs are at least aimed at kids, who aren’t fully cognizant of the risks of premarital sex, unhealthy diets, and the rest.

  7. McGehee says:

    I think the best way to accomplish this objective is to print posters and bumper stickers that read: