Call For National Debate On Promoting Marriage

Family First Media Release 10 Sep 2009
Family First NZ is calling for a nationwide debate on promoting marriage as a result of their just-released report “21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters” which documents the psychological, social, economical and health benefits of marriage.

“It is time that government policies and rhetoric acknowledged that there is a difference in terms of outcomes between marriage and other forms of relationship,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates are seldom considered in debate on social policy issues, such as poverty among families with children. A recent 70-page report issued by the Children’s Commissioner and Barnardos contained no reference to marriage or divorce, despite the rate of poverty being five times higher for sole parent families.”

“Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labeled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognizing the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research.”

“Marriage has changed a great deal, with the marriage rate at approximately 14 marriages per 1,000 married adults, less than a third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1000 recorded in 1971. It has been impacted over the past decades by an increased level and acceptance of divorce, cohabiting, and unwed childbearing. NZ has a high teenage birth rate and sole parents with dependent children made up 30 percent of families with children.”

“Yet in virtually every category that social science has measured, children and adults do better when parents get married and stay married – provided there is no presence of high conflict or violence.”

“The Statement of Intent just published by the Families Commission fails to mention marriage even once. Yet domestic violence and child abuse – two pet topics of the Commission – is far more prevalent in families where the biological parents are not both present and married.”

Family First in conjunction with the NZIER has also highlighted the ‘marriage tax’ which penalises a married couple by up to $15,000 in their household income compared with a couple who separates or divorces.

“Marriage is like a ‘life quality’ insurance policy for children and parents and it’s time we were honest enough to admit that,’ says Mr McCoskrie.

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