According to Maryann Reid, the number of African-American couples having children out of wedlock is at an all-time high—and she's determined to "bring black love back." Gayle talks to Maryann, an author and the founder of Marry Your Baby Daddy, about her campaign to encourage unmarried African-American couples with kids to tie the knot.
Maryann says she encourages African-American couples to make their commitment official within the institution of marriage. In addition to the legal and financial benefits of marriage, Maryann says it helps provide the entire family with more stability, especially for children. "I think it can really help people and households to have a good, structured, married household when you're already living together and you're perfectly happy," she says.
The first Marry Your Baby Daddy Day was held in 2005, during which 10 couples said "I do" and received an all-expenses-paid wedding. Everything the couples need—from the gown and rings to the flowers and cake—is donated by vendors. Maryann says the generosity she's witnessed reflects the strong support for marriage within the community. "The community is coming together to say, 'Look, we believe in this, we believe in marriage, we want these couples to be happy, we're going to give this to you and we're going to do it together,'" she says.
Plans are underway for the next Marry Your Baby Daddy Day in September 2007. Maryann says couples must go through a series of interviews and premarital counseling in order to qualify for participation. Although the free wedding is definitely a plus, Maryann says the couples are truly committed to marriage. "They want a place or a way they can be noticed and take a stand for something positive," she says.