The folks who brought us Florida's horrific Amendment 2 are back in the business of interfering with people's private lives... again.
John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council and the Yes2Marriage Campaign, now wants to make it harder and more expensive for heterosexual couples to marry and divorce. The "Strong Marriages Campaign" is promoting a "Premarital Preparation bill" before the Florida Legislature that would add $100 to the state's marriage-license fee and do away with no fault divorce.
His catchy tag-line of fundamentalist relationship control?
Harder to get in and harder to get out.
Much more after the jump...
Stemberger says just like same-sex marriages (or any type of relationship recognition that isn't religiously sanctioned marriage), the "ease at which people get married and divorced threatens the foundation of society."
Are you sure it's not religious zealotry that's the threat?
The money raised by the higher marriage license fee would go to a fund that would give grants to (wait for it...) faith-based organizations that share Stemberger's ideology, like the ultra conservative Live the Life Ministries, which would provide "counseling" to couples looking to marry. The counseling includes a 150-question "premarital inventory" that asks couples if they are living together, which counseling would discourage, since the groups consider unmarried couples "a threat to the institution of marriage and a contributing factor to societal ills."
Stemberger also wants to get rid of Florida's no-fault divorce laws. He is advocating a waiting period of at least a year from the time a divorce is filed until it is finalized. For couples with children, both parents would need to agree to the divorce.
Ah, nothing like a little patriarchal control in relationships to put women and children back in their "place"- under the rule of men.
Making divorce harder has no effect on making marriages better. And making it more expensive to marry only creates bigger poverty issues, larger inequities in economic status, and destabilizes the ability of family members to care for one another. Basically, in Stemberger's narrow view, only rich Christians will be able to marry and only men (and the church) will be able to decide if couples should split.
We should be expanding beyond marriage and recognizing all sorts of relationships, not handing over control to fanatics who want to control every aspect of people's lives. This is simply conservative Christian religious ideology and control disguised as public policy and "budget saving" ideas.
Stemberger needs to stay out of everyone else's lives and relationships.