Here’s a simple learning activity to be used in class with Andrew Cherlin’s Contexts article “Should the Government Promote Marriage?” from Fall 2003 (also found in the Contexts Reader). Students would need to be able to reference the article as they work on this in small groups. Click here for a PDF of this worksheet.

Directions: Get into groups of 3 or 4. As a group, find evidence given in the article that supports both sides of this debate.

1)      Imagine that you are a proponent of the “Marriage Movement.” What evidence can you find in this article that supports your argument that marriage is the best family form?

2)      Now, imagine you are part of the “Diversity Defenders.” What evidence can you find in the article that supports your argument that marriage is one of many positive family forms?

Now that you have examined some evidence for both sides of the debate, discuss and answer these questions with your group:

1.  Do you think the government should encourage people to get married? If so, is there a specific group that should be targeted? If not, why not?

2. Do you think that a child who is raised by married parents benefits from their marriage?

3.  Do you think that children who are raised within other family forms (e.g. single mothers, single fathers, gay and lesbian couples, etc.) inevitably miss out on some benefits because their parents are not married?