The conservative obsession with divorce is starting to get downright bizarre. Recently, I’ve chronicled the Promiscuous Iowa Girls bill where they tried to make getting divorced a much more arduous task. And now it seems like it’s North Carolina’s turn. Last week Republican State Senators Austin Allran and Warren Daniel embarrassed the Tar Heel State by introducing the ironically named Healthy Marriages Act. Now why is this embarrassing? Because these people seem to pay no attention to facts whatsoever. I’ll let State Senator Allran explain from the Huffington Post:
“North Carolina has a very high divorce rate — one of the worst — and it’s probably because we’ve been lax in our divorce laws. Made it too easy,” Allran said.
First off, no and no. As I previously elucidated in the post about Iowa, nationally divorce rates are heading in the direction that any conservative advocate of marriage should love. And North Carolina is no different. According to the U.S Census Bureau In 1990 the rate of divorce was 5.1 per 1000. In 2000 the rate was 4.5 per 1000. The most recent statistics from 2009 show the rate at 3.8 per 1000. This is what’s known as a downward trend. Now as for his contention that divorce is too easy in North Carolina, again I call bullshit. I’ll let WRAL a local North Carolina station do the honors here:
North Carolina’s one-year waiting period is already longer than most other Southeast states.
It only takes a couple weeks in Georgia and Tennessee before a divorce is granted. Florida couples don’t even have to leave their homes – they can file online to have their marriages dissolved.
These types of bills seem to be getting worse over time. At least the Iowa bill had exceptions for physical abuse, adultery, or if one of the spouses was convicted of a felony. No such luck with the Healthy Marriages Act. Taking a bad idea that was eventually scuttled in Iowa and making it worse, the Healthy Marriages Act also makes couples seeking a divorce take classes. Again from the Huffington Post:
Both parties in the divorce would also be required to complete a set of counseling courses on improving “communication skills” and “conflict resolution.” If the couple has children, they’d also be required to complete a course of at least four hours on the impact of divorce on children. None of the courses would be required to be taken together.
So not only does the bill try to fix a problem that doesn’t need fixing, it throws in relationship coaching as well. Yes we’ve interfered with a set of decisions that are extremely personal but hey, you don’t have to take those classes together. Are we not merciful? Mandatory communication and conflict resolution classes taken separately is sure to save marriages. Right. Makes about as much sense as anything else in this ludicrous bill. Also, when compared to other states, North Carolina is one of the harder places to get a divorce. But why let actual facts affect the supposed reasoning behind proposed legislation?
Speaking of actual facts, guess what’s absurdly easy to do in great state of North Carolina other than getting guns? Getting married. People often think of Nevada as the place of quickie marriages and there is some truth to that. It’s tough to beat the convenience of a drive-through chapel. But North Carolina has the same waiting period to get married that Las Vegas does: a wait of exactly zero days.
Want to marry your 14 year-old first-cousin down in Fayetteville, N.C today? No problem at all. Are you a healthy person? Are you clinically insane? Who cares? No muss. No fuss. No waiting periods. No classes on communication and child-rearing. Just bring $60, fill out some paperwork, grab two witnesses and you’ll be wed by sundown.
Two year waiting periods and communication courses are actually interesting concepts to introduce into marriage — imagine if these measures were introduced on the front end of the marriage process? Think of it as preventive medicine. It’s a lot cheaper and more effective than the alternative. Requiring classes in order to get married is still an obnoxious invasion of privacy and absurd government meddling. But if you wanted to make sure people thought critically about what marriage meant to them, and the specific type of relationship they wanted to have, that would be the way to go. Of course, I’m talking about things that might actually improve a marriage rather than what the sponsors of the so-called Healthy Marriage Act are proposing. Waiting periods and communication classes after a feuding couple has hired lawyers is way too late in the game.
North Carolina, I’d ask if you couldn’t find anything better to do, but it seems like you can’t — considering your other recent high-profile efforts have included voter suppression and the establishment of a state religion. So I’ll just say please stop instead.
Categories: Politics Fix