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CFI/OPP Presents Awards to Members of Congress March 25, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Annoucements, Press Release.
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The CFI Office of Public Policy last week presented awards to five members of the House of Representatives who worked to further our values in the 110th Congress, 2007-2008. They are:Representative Vernon Ehlers of Grand Rapids Michigan, who is a tireless worker for education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); Representative Brian Baird of Vancouver, Washington, who is promoting science as vital international cooperation; Representative Diana DeGette of Denver Colorado, who tried over and over again in the 110th Congress to get federal funding for embryonic stem cell research; Representative Michael Honda of San Jose, California, who supports education in science and eloquently speaks for the rights of Muslim Americans; and Representative Henry Waxman of Los Angeles, who held committee hearings which exposed the attempt to muzzle climate scientists during the Bush years.
OPP director Toni Van Pelt presented each representative with a crystal tower engraved with the award and embellished with a globe that represents the transnational nature of the Center for Inquiry. She read a citation and a professional photographer took pictures that we will post as soon as we receive them. Citations detailing the achievements of each awardee are posted on the OPP website, http://www.centerforinquiry.net/opp.


Obama Urged to Focus on Poverty, Not Marriage March 3, 2009

Posted by Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Commentary.
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The Obama administration should focus on reducing family poverty in federal programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), not on promoting marriage and fatherhood, say researchers and advocates from universities and national organizations who have jointly published a position paper, Reduce Poverty Using Proven Methods: Eliminate Federal Funding of “Marriage Promotion” and Staff HHS with Appointees Who Value All Families, “http://”>/www.unmarried.org/images.

The authors report that from 2006 to 2010, TANF was permitted to award $750 million in grants to support projects promoting healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood. But they point out that no research supports the idea that marriage and fatherhood help alleviate poverty.
The focus on family structure endorsed by the Bush administration and its appointees is misplaced. Family structure has become less important in economic status since the 1980s. Although many factors that affect family structure–single parenting, divorce, cohabitation, LGBT parenting–have increased in the last fifty years, the welfare of children has actually improved.
The focus should be directly on poverty, say the authors. This means that administrators of programs like TANF should be committed to serving the needs of children in all family structures. Alleviating poverty should prioritize proven methods, such as increasing cash benefits; providing childcare and job skills training; improving educational opportunities; raising the federal minimum wage; empowering unions; attacking discrimination of all kinds; and creating decent jobs.
They call for an immediate stop to allocating federal funds for the promotion of marriage and fatherhood and for the removal of all references to and allocations for it in future legislation. No more federal money should be diverted from the real needs of children and of families, no matter how they are constituted.

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