I've started to read the book that Bella DePaulo has put out about singles. Her premise is that singles are discriminated against and that such discrimination is tied to what she calls "matri-mania," the belief in marriage as a life transforming experience. (This is a vast simplification of her ideas, I might add.)
I want to start out by saying that I have nothing against marriage...Some of my best friends are married. My parents are still married. I have even signed the marriage certificates of people that I dearly love. But I do believe that Bella is right in this premise.
If the vast array of wedding magazines and planning guides available in your local Barnes & Nobles weren't enough to convince you, just turn on the Today show during the spring as they begin the build-up of providing a lucky couple with the perfect nuptuals. People magazine does it's round of wedding pictures of all the celebrities' knot tying. I suppose this is to be expected.
But here's what really pounded home the message for me about the supremacy of marriage as the grand ideal, despite the lowest numbers for married people showing up on census data ever...and that's the Healthy Marriage Initiative funded by my tax dollars and yours to the tune of $118 million dollars. If you don't believe me, head on over to the Health and Human Services website and look for the links to the Administration of Children and Family Services.
This money is going for some good things, I think. For instance, there is a directive that funds be used to prepare people who are planning to get married in better communication. There is an emphasis that a healthy family is one that is free of physical abuse. I can get behind these things.
Here's what's a little harder to stomach, the idea that my money is being spent on programs which "promote marriage." I know that this is hard to believe. Why wouldn't I want to promote marriage when the website tells me that Congress has found that marriage makes people happier, healthier and wealthier? Well, let's see, the first most obvious answer would be that it seems even more clear, in light of such findings, that the federal government is discriminating against same sex couples by denying them such obvious benefits. I can also imagine that such a "marriage-at-all-costs" message that the government espouses will continue to deteriorate the status of those who choose to be single (whyever is this such a bad thing if people are happy and healthy where they are at?).
Of course, my skepticism over my government's concern for my marital status only increased why I followed some of the links listed under the "get involved" section of the Healthy Marriage Initiative website. The first link that I followed, posited that the deterioration of marriage was the single biggest problem facing our country today. I have to tell you that my jaw dropped on that one.