Colorado has started to develop a reputation for increasingly progressive political policies. While reactions to this liberalization may vary, no one can deny the potential for innovation alive in the Front Range. While I personally delight at our state’s inclination for adaptation, the action of others to capitalize on this gives me pause.
I’m talking, of course, about the proposed bill to require couples to take a marriage education course before wedding. The organization pushing the bill, Kids against Divorce, selected Colorado as the first state to try the bill. While I appreciate the recognition of our great state for its progressive ideals and the spirit of this bill, I still am not loving this proposed measure.
To put it plainly, this bill simply is too far of a reach into the lives of citizens. A government can encourage its people to educate themselves on what marriage entails and be prudent when pondering bearing children, but by no means can they mandate that couples take education courses before marriage. I appreciate that this organization wants couple to be better prepared before wedding or having children, but a government mandate is not the way to do it. The proposed Marriage Education Act would require new couples to take 10 hours of education courses, sometimes up to 30 if the bride or groom is remarrying. This is far too much time to require of spouses-to-be, and it’s ludicrous to expect people to be able to fit in 10 to 30 hours of marriage education in between their jobs, family, and all that goes into preparing for the actual wedding. Proponents of the bill say the purpose of the bill is to “Better prepare individuals going into marriage to fulfill their new roles as spouse and potentially as parent, to furthermore protect children given that marriage is the foundation of a family unit.” It’s one thing to help people better themselves, and it’s another when you force them to. One is honorable, the other is not.
Another problem I have with this bill is the way it’s approaching the problem. The organization promoting the bill, Kids Against Divorce, quoted a 2008 study that estimated that $112 billion of taxpayer money is spent each year on divorce and children born out of wedlock each year. There are many problematic elements here. First of all, the results of that study are very questionable in relation to the situation. Supposedly, $112 billion of tax money is spent annually on children born out of wedlock AND divorce? It seems unfair to lump those two categories together; I am certain far much more money is spent on children born outside of marriage than on divorce. Where does taxpayer money even come into play during divorce settlement? Secondly, to go off that point, how are marriage education classes going to curtail the problem of children born outside marriage? Children born outside of wedlock could be a legitimate problem, but marriage education classes are certainly not the best solution to tackle it. Indeed, additional sexual education or easier access to contraceptives would be a far better solution, and wouldn’t require intrusive government mandates to accomplish.
However, this isn’t a completely negative bill. The one aspect of the measure I like is a tax cut for couples who voluntarily complete continuing marriage education courses annually to “reduce the billions of dollars taxpayers spend annually on divorce” (which, again, is not a fair statement). I think this part of the bill is a completely fair way for the government to encourage couples to educate themselves about marriage and raising children. This would be a good way for Kids Against Divorce to work at curtailing divorce without upsetting the general public or alienating supporters. My only question would be if the tax break is large enough to offset the cost of the education courses. I would support this bill if it only consisted of this tax incentive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
This bill was a well-intentioned idea that ultimately will not pan out well for citizens. While marriage education is a good thing for couples to look into before wedding or raising a child, it is by no means something that should be mandated by the state. There are things that can be done to curb divorce, but invading the private lives of citizens is not one. If this bill makes it to ballots in the future, do not say yes.
Sean Kennedy is a freshman with no declared major who fails at writing snappy endings. Love and hate can be sent to email@example.com or @seanskenn on Twitter.
This bill is reaching too far into the lives of citizens
While there are positives and negatives to this bill, the negatives outweigh
Do not cast your vote for this, if it makes it to the ballot