2017 Legislative Session Senate Bill 29 (SB29)
Senate Bill 29 is entitled “Utah Marriage Commission Amendments”
to increase the marriage license fee by $20 (so that the cost will be $30 instead of $10);
to create a restricted account to support marriage and relationship strengthening efforts in the state;
to offer a couple a $20 rebate if both parties complete premarital education or counseling that meets specific criteria set by the state government;
to have the state determine the content requirements for premarital education and counseling;
to have the state determine the requirements for providers of premarital education and counseling;
to create the “Marriage Education Restricted Account”; and
to provide a reporting requirement.
Where to being with what’s wrong with this patently stupid idea?:
SB29 will increase funding to the state getting more involved in our marriages.
It will also increase money and business for those people who will be state sanctioned to provide the state’s concept of what your marriage should be.
While there’s clearly nothing wrong with individuals considering marriage seeking out the guidance of others, state legislators are not qualified to give marriage advice.
And what is this advice that the state wants every couple applying for a marriage license to “learn” for $20?:
(4) (a) The premarital education or counseling shall include, as a minimum, the following topics:
(i) commitment in marriage;
(ii) the importance of providing a safe and nurturing environment for children;
(iii) effective communication and problem-solving skills, including avoiding violence and abuse in the relationship; and
(iv) effective financial management.
(b) At least six hours of premarital education or three hours of counseling are required to fulfill the requirements of this section.
(c) Religious organizations offering formal premarital education or counseling, including religious principles related to marriage, are exempt from the content requirements in Subsection (4)(a), but shall adhere to the length-of-time requirement.
(d) Providers are encouraged to make use of research-based relationship inventories. The bill does not define “research-based relationship inventories,” nor was I able to find a definition of the term (which may be precisely the desired effect of including it in the bill?).
There is no reason to give the state $20 more of your money in the moronic belief that somehow the government and its puppet, tax-funded “educators” will convert that $20 into stronger, better marriages. The only change this law would bring about is making an engaged couple $20 poorer.
Does any sensible citizen believe that the state needs to remind, or is competent to remind, a adults contemplating marriage about:
commitment in marriage?;
the importance of providing a safe and nurturing environment for children?;
effective communication and problem-solving skills, including avoiding violence and abuse in the relationship?; and
effective financial management?
Good grief, is there anyone adult—married or not– who hasn’t already been taught this? Why not subject qualifying for a marriage license to passing a quiz in which each prospective spouse must answer “true” to the following questions, and is given up to 6 hours to complete the orally administered quiz:
True or false:
- commitment in marriage is important;
- providing a safe and nurturing environment for children in a family is important;
- effective communication and problem-solving skills in a marriage, including avoiding violence and abuse in the relationship is important;
- effective financial management in a marriage is important.
My word, what percentage of the population that chooses to marry does not value commitment, safety, nurturing children, effective communication and problem-solving, avoiding violence and abuse, and effective financial management?
Marriages do not fail as a result of a lack of education, nor will fewer marriage fail or more marriages succeed after 3-6 hours “education” about the importance of commitment, communication, safe nurturing (heaven help us), non-violence, and thrift.
Any legislator who truly believes that charging a couple $20 or 3-6 hours of instruction on these subjects will cause any measurable improvement in the state of marriage in Utah should be expelled for incompetence and breach of fiduciary duty.
If you, like I, wish to ensure that this well-meaning but nonetheless self-evidently stupid and insulting idea is not made the law of the land, click here to find the contact information for your legislators and write them, pleading with them to vote against S.B. 29: