Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): Putting Marriage on the Agenda: How Oklahoma Laid the Foundation for Its Marriage Initiative. What Led to the Idea for a Statewide Marriage Initiative?


A confluence of emerging public policy concerns and research gave rise to what is now the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. At the federal level, the 1996 welfare reform legislation that established the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program included two objectives related to family structure:  reducing the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. There also was a growing body of research confirming the benefits to children of growing up in families with two married parents. At the same time, an Oklahoma state economic report suggested that, along with strengthening education and taking other steps that could directly improve productivity, Oklahoma should increase its attention to family and social conditions that might indirectly affect the states prospects for economic growth.(1)  These conditions included high rates of divorce and nonmarital childbearing  at the time Oklahomas divorce rate was the second highest in the nation.(2)  Taken together, these factors led key state leaders to the conclusion that finding a way to address the divorce rate was an important priority for Oklahoma.

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