A local newspaper recently conducted an online poll to see what readers think about Senator Phil Williams covenant marriage bill that makes it more difficult to get a divorce. More than 75 percent of those who voted in the poll were opposed to covenant marriages.
I was not surprised to see how the citizens of Gadsden feel about Senator Williams’ covenant marriage bill, but I am surprised that he would introduce such a bill in the first place.
Marriage vows have always been a private matter made between two people who have chosen to commit their lives to one another. What Phil Williams has proposed would vastly increase the reach of government into the most private aspects of peoples’ lives.
But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that yet another Republican in Montgomery has proposed a bill that would increase the power of government in peoples’ personal lives. Already this year, Senator Clay Scofield and Representative April Weaver – both Republicans – have introduced legislation that would require a woman to receive a transvaginal ultrasound if she terminates a pregnancy, even if that pregnancy was the result of sexual assault or ended due to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.
While Sen. Scofield has claimed he will amend some portions of his bill (though he does not intend to make exceptions for rape or incest), Rep. Weaver has not publicly offered to amend her version of the bill.
Not only are covenant marriages an expansion of governmental reach into peoples’ personal lives, they are also ineffective at reducing divorce and could potentially trap an abused spouse in an unsafe marriage.
There are only four states that currently allow covenant marriages: Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas and Louisiana. Because participation in covenant marriages is voluntary, few couples choose to enter into covenant marriages.
During the first year that covenant marriages were allowed in Louisiana, only 1 percent of newlyweds chose to take covenant vows. The number has only slightly risen since then. In Arkansas (which has one of the nation’s highest divorce rates), there has actually been a decline in the number of newlyweds who choose to enter covenant marriages. In Arizona, only one-fourth of one percent of couples getting married select the covenant marriage option.
Covenant marriages are ineffective and intrusive. The government should not be intruding into peoples’ personal lives or dictating the terms under which they can get divorced.
I wish I could say it is surprising to see the same people who claim we need less government intrusion in our lives turn around and sponsor a bill that increases the reach of government in our lives, but these same people have consistently introduced bills that would give our government the power to not only dictate your marriage but also force an invasive medical procedure on women against their will.
Senator Phil Williams has forgotten that it is the people who control our government and not the other way around. Senator Williams should listen to the people here at home and withdraw his bill immediately.