Will Texas Mess with Marriage?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Texas state representative Warren Chisum caused a stir awhile back when his proposal to ban gay marriage (which, unfortunately, passed) was found to be so poorly-worded that it could be interpreted to be a ban on all marriage.

Well, now he's back in the news, only it's not as funny and what he proposes really will affect all new marriages.

Debate over government's role in matters of love, marriage and divorce begins today when the Texas House considers a bill doubling marriage license fees to $60 unless couples take premarital classes.

Couples agreeing to eight-hour courses in conflict management and communication skills would get their marriage licenses free under the bill sponsored by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, a leading House conservative.
Given that many (if not most) such classes are offered by religious institutions, this amounts to the government promoting religion. But that's not all.
Chisum's bill, with its carrot-and-stick approach, is part of the Texas Conservative Coalition agenda to ease the demand for poverty programs by reducing divorce rates that can financially hurt the newly single.

The package could create voluntary "covenant" marriage contracts with tougher conditions to discourage divorce and lengthen waiting periods for no-fault divorces unless couples undergo marriage crisis classes.

"It's in the state's interest for marriages to be saved," said John Colyandro, the coalition's executive director. "A lot of single-parent households are in poverty. Once they're in poverty, that makes them eligible for a whole host of programs they might not otherwise be involved with." [bold added]
So much for the idea that we should abolish welfare (or even cut it back) because it depends on the theft of money from countless individuals. But don't take my word for it....
Chisum's bills requiring premarital classes and crisis classes for marriages in trouble include a separate funding proposal for low-income Texans.

It would tap into nearly $10 million in a federal welfare block grant to help pay for the classes.

"We're saying families are important to us," Chisum said Tuesday. "If that's the nanny state, then so we are. We're very pro-family." [bold added]
You know the Republicans have ceased to be in any respect champions of individual rights when a it takes a leftist journalist and a pack of Democrats to make the following correct appraisal of GOP legislation:
[C]ritics say the proposed measures -- especially those lengthening waiting periods for divorces -- amount to government intrusion into private lives. While Republicans have long decried the "nanny state" of liberal social safety nets, some House Democrats now complain about GOP meddling into highly personal decisions they say are best left to individuals.
I once had to get divorced, and I was lucky, because it was about as "good" as a divorce can get. It was still one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and I hope I never have to go through anything like it again. How dare some Bible-thumper presume -- on the basis that divorce is somehow "easy" -- to force everyone else to swallow his snake oil before getting married!

And, far more despicable, how dare Chisum presume that we are all somehow wards of the state.

-- CAV


Dismuke said...

Good god - I clicked on the link you provided thinking that it was nothing more than a hairbrain proposal by some backwoods bumpkin. I thought the article would be at least good for a laugh. Raising a marriage license by an extra $30 if one does not take an 8 hour course? Well, that would mean that the money saved per hour would be $3.75. How many people attach such a low value to their time? About the only people I am aware of are the ones who probably need to get married the most - you know, the unmarried 19 year old ladies who use terms such as "my youngest baby's daddy."

But I stopped laughing when I read the article and realized that you actually left out the very worst part of it in your blog posting:

"Those not completing such classes would be required to wait two years to get a divorce. Those showing they completed the class could get a divorce granted within 60 days of filing. Currently in Texas, there is a 60-day waiting period for a divorce to be finalized."

A $30 increase in the marriage license fee is nothing more than just another nickle and dime tax increase and is almost comical. But requiring people wait for two years to get a divorce? There is only one word for that: evil Oh! But they have the "choice" of taking the stupid class. Some "choice."

And if one goes ahead and takes the silly class, one is still not off the hook:

"Likewise, if marriages turn rocky, the same categories could intervene with 10-hour marriage crisis classes that couples would be required to complete within a 48-hour period, according to a separate Chisum proposal."

I wonder what they would force people to do in such classes. Talk before the group about their marital problems? Most divorces are pretty personal matters. Imagine having to sit through and endure such nonsense at what is usually an already stresseful and difficult period in a person's life.

This is downright sick - and something one would expect in a place such as Ireland where, until just a few years ago, divorce was actually illegal. I just googled the subject - in Ireland today one has to live apart for four years before one can get a divorce.

So we still have some backwoods bumpkin - only now he is not especially funny. Unfortunately, the article does not say whether this is newsworthy because it actually stands a chance of passing or merely because it is so outrageous. Hopefully it is the latter.

I wonder what this Chisum fellow will propose next. State issued chasitity belts?

Gus Van Horn said...

You're right! I did leave out the worst part! That was supposed to go in, but I was in a hurry posting this morning, and ended up cutting it out.

Two years for a divorce and saving obviously bad marriages. Yeah. We should force people to do both because marriages, however, broken are inherently good.

Good? For whom? That is what the likes of Chisum want you to forget to ask.

Dismuke said...

Chisum's proposal is a close runner up for being one of the most outrageously offensive statist proposals I have seen from the Right.

The worst I have seen was William F. Buckley's call for "voluntary" national service back in 1990. Such national service would be strictly voluntary, of course. The only thing is that those who failed to "volunteer" would not be allowed to get drivers' licenses or social security numbers. In other words, if one does not wish to "volunteer" one is perfectly "free" to not join - it would just be illegal for anyone to hire him or for him to drive.

Even Ted Kennedy doesn't have the nerve to claim that redistribution of wealth and socialized medicine are somehow "voluntary."

As for Chisum - a google search on his name reveals that earlier this year he was involved in a rather hilarious scandal of sorts. He distributed to other Texas lawmakers an anti-evolution pamphlet written by some Georgia state legislator that linked to and made favorable mention of this website which claims that the sun revolves around the earth. The site is definitely good for a few laughs. When he was confronted by the the media about it and some of the anti-Semitic comments on it, Chisum backed down and claimed that he had not visited the website when he distributed the pamphlet and apologized.

THIS is the fellow who wants to butt into everybody's marriage - in a state which happens to contain some of the largest and most successful metropolitan areas in the country.

Gus Van Horn said...

"THIS is the fellow who wants to butt into everybody's marriage...."

That pretty much says it all -- and explains why we should always seek to limit the power of government to interfere with our daily lives.