Jeb Bush wrote 20 years ago that out-of-wedlock births were caused by single parents no longer being shamed and ridiculed, according to excerpts from his book that were publicized in a published report on Tuesday.
He also called for shaming more misbehaving youths, saying they “feel shame before their friends rather than their family.”
The likely presidential candidate made his case in his 1995 book “Profiles in Character” – which was published before he won the Florida governor’s office – in a chapter titled “The Restoration of Shame.”
In an excerpt first cited by The Huffington Post on Tuesday, Bush wrote:
“One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out-of-wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.”
In another section, Bush says a lack of a father is a good indication of who will ultimately contribute to “social ills” and have children out of wedlock in the future.
“For young girls, there is a correlate effect of fatherlessness that can be measured by sexual activity and the rate of out-of-wedlock childbearing. Studies have shown that girls who grow up without fathers run a greater risk not only of adolescent childbearing but of divorce as well,” he wrote.
The book was published six years before Florida enacted – under Bush’s governorship – a “Scarlet Letter” law requiring women who put up their infants for adoption to first publish their sexual histories in a newspaper if they didn’t know the identity of the father. The legislation aimed to notify fathers and prevent custody battles later.
The law passed with broad support, and Marco Rubio, then serving in the Florida statehouse, was among those voting in favor. An aide to Bush said Tuesday that he let the measure become law without his signature because a Democratic state senator assured him that the disclosure requirement would be altered.
But the requirement was never changed, and Bush signed a repeal in 2003 after a Florida court struck down the law. It was not immediately clear Tuesday what the alteration in the law was or why Bush did not sign or veto the legislation.
Bush’s campaign highlighted another portion of the book, in which he argued that single-parent families are not “bad or ineffectual,” but that “having a second supportive parent helps.”
He wrote: “First it has come time for us to face up to the fact that the two-parent family is good for children. This should not be a controversial subject. It does not mean that single-parent families are bad or ineffectual. And it does not mean we should demean the heroic efforts of single parents who are trying to raise good, decent children or that we should ignore the fact that many single parents have the support of large extended families. But the truth is, as most single parents will tell you, the burden of raising a child on one’s own, shouldering total and complete responsibility, is difficult work. Having a second supportive parent helps. Saying the two-parent family is good means only that having two supportive, nurturing parents is better than having one supportive, nurturing parent.”
CNN’s Alexandra Jaffe and Sara Murray contributed to this report.