Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Thursday defended passages from his 1995 book about the loss of a “stigma” for children being born outside of marriage.
Bush, a likely 2016 GOP presidential candidate, told reporters traveling with him in Europe that two-parent households give children better structure and economic opportunities.
“My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of their children hasn’t changed at all,” Bush told reporters in Warsaw, according to MSNBC.
“In fact, since 1995 … this was a book about cultural indicators [and] the country has moved in the wrong direction,” he added. “We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate.
“It’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today and it hurts the prospects. It limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning,” he added.
Bush was addressing a chapter in Profiles of Courage titled “The Restoration of Shame,” according to MSNBC.
In that chapter, Bush bemoaned that the number of children born out of wedlock was increasing because there was “no longer a stigma attached to this behavior.”
He added that “parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior.”
Bush on Thursday said that chapter of his book was “speaking of [marriage] in the policy context, and the focus was on men.”
But addressing problems with out-of-wedlock births “does not mean we should demean the heroic efforts of single parents who are trying to raise good, decent children,” Bush said.
The former Florida governor also defended a “Scarlet Letter” provision passed as part of a 2001 law during his tenure.
That provision, MSNBC reported, required mothers giving up their children for adoption to publicly post records of their sexual histories so that it would notify potential fathers about related births.
“To assume you can create a fatherless society and not have bad outcomes I think is the wrong approach,” Bush said of the provision, was repealed in 2003 by legislation he signed.
“I don’t remember what the repeal was,” he added. “I can remember the purpose of the law was to enhance the ability to collect child support, because men have the responsibility of taking care of their children.”
Bush is expected to formally launch his White House campaign on June 15 in Miami.