Dads Against the Divorce Industry

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Poll Shows Fatherhood, Marriage and Family at Forefront of American Concerns
By Cheryl K. Chumley
CNS Staff Writer
August 31, 2000

( - Preserving traditional family infrastructure is what matters to the majority of Americans, more so than cleaning the environment or creating new jobs, according to a new poll conducted for the Alliance For Marriage.

The AFM is a self-described "nonpartisan and multicultural" agency whose members seek to return the country's perceptions of marriage and family to a time less plagued by divorce and single parenthood. The agency contracted Wirthlin Worldwide to administer the poll, which reportedly included the participation of more than 1,000 adults.

Calling the findings "encouraging" during a conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Wednesday, AFM Executive Director Matt Daniels said "a high degree of consensus" existed "across party lines and ideological lines about the critical importance of strong families."

The poll, with an estimated margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, indicated 64 and 77 percent of those surveyed believed strengthening families was more important than increasing job opportunities and creating a cleaner environment, respectively.

The survey also indicated an almost equal number from the three mainstream voting blocs - Republican, Democrat, and Independent - expressed the willingness to support governmental and civic reforms that could be favorable toward promoting healthy, long-lasting marriages and families.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents, for example, would like to see businesses voluntarily offer such family-friendly benefits as flex time and "home-based work options," according to the poll..

The vast majority of poll participants from all three major political blocs also favored the creation of rules requiring all married couples with children considering divorce to first undergo counseling, the implementation of a system whereby the media would be recognized for stories that detail the positive aspects of marriage, and a decrease in taxes for married couples with children - the legislation for which was recently vetoed by President Bill Clinton.

To a lesser extent, survey respondents favored measures that would increase tax benefits for those couples considering adoption. However, only 44 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents - 40 percent on total average - supported the abolition of welfare laws that "penalize" married couples.

"We are at an unprecedented level of one in three American children being raised with no father in the home," Daniels said, calling that statistic an "expanding disaster" and reflective of an "epidemic of fatherless families."

This poll shows, he continued, that "strengthening families should be a top domestic policy in the nation. Political leaders need to listen to this and respond to it" in order that parents and children will have better educational, economic, and social opportunities.

The definition of family, according to AFM members available for questions and comments after the presentation, does not include same-sex couples wishing to marry and have children.

"I define a loving family as one where a loving female and male live and work together to rear their children, and one where, when the children become mature, they protect and defend their parents," said AFM board of advisor member Dr. Walter Fauntroy, who is also a pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church and a retired Congressional leader.

Toward that goal, the AFM advocates taking such actions as requiring school systems to provide students with books that "accurately describe the benefits of marriage," Daniels said, and securing the promises of local clergy members to perform family counseling sessions to all prospective couples wishing to marry - before permission for the marriage ceremonies are granted.

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