Kansas lawmakers put the deadbolt back in wedlock: “covenant marriages”


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Kansas looks to superglue some marriage bonds

The Star’s Topeka correspondent




    TOPEKA | Kansas lawmakers have a plan to put the deadbolt back in wedlock: optional “covenant marriages” that could be ended for only specific reasons or after a trial separation.

    To break these bonds of matrimony, couples would have to undergo marriage counseling and live apart for at least a year. Divorces also could be granted after an infidelity or when one spouse has committed domestic violence or has been convicted of a serious crime.

    Couples would have to undergo premarital counseling to qualify and sign an affidavit affirming that their marriage is for life. Covenant marriages also would cost more — $25 on top of the existing $69 marriage license fee.

    Already married couples could upgrade to the covenant marriage. Same-sex couples would be ineligible.

    The House endorsed the measure Thursday. A final vote today will send the bill to the Senate.

    Supporters noted voters outlawed same-sex marriage to defend the sanctity of marriage. But covenant marriage — for those who want them — is a way to go on the offensive.

    “We are not forcing anybody into this agreement,” said Rep. Anthony Brown, a Eudora Republican. “It’s not going back to the 1800s. It’s still the same marriage law, unless you and your partner decide to go through a covenant marriage process.”

    For those who like to know where the exits are, standard marriage — which allows for no-fault divorce — would remain available.

    Critics contend that the extra obstacles could trap abused spouses or prolong the agony of couples who were never meant to be.

    “We need to be in touch with reality,” said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat. “Some people who get married discover they shouldn’t have gotten married. … I don’t want to force those people to stay in a marriage that is hurting them.”

    Only Arkansas, Arizona and Louisiana have covenant marriages on the books.

    Earlier Thursday, the House passed and sent to the Senate a bill waiving the state’s $69 marriage license fee for couples who sign an affidavit stating they lack the resources to pay.

    Rep. Jan Pauls said it was too bad some couples couldn’t afford the fee. But the Hutchinson Democrat added: “Maybe they’re going to just live on love.”

    To reach David Klepper, call 785-354-1388 or send e-mail to dklepper@kcstar.com.

    Posted on Thu, Feb. 18, 2010 11:06 PM

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    Comments: 6      Showing: Oldest first Newest first Most-recommended first Least-recommended first

    • jimd wrote on 2/19/2010 6:54:23 AM:

      Looks like the sequel to the sequel of Dumb and Dumber has arrived.

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    • vaxn8r wrote on 2/19/2010 6:13:44 AM:

      Seems like I read somewhere that budget/staff cuts were needed in Kansas this and next year; many other states certainly are in the same predicament.
      Heres an idea....lets just recess the state legislature for the year. It will save some money and limit the number of bonehead actions they might otherwise take.

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    • WJCBari06 wrote on 2/19/2010 6:13:10 AM:

      This rubs me the wrong way, and I'm even a right-leaning conservative. This is in every sense of the meaning, an infringement by the state into a matter of the church. The term "covenant" is a relationship between man and God; the state has no business whatsoever in regulating that. If we approach marriage as a covenant anyway, why do I have to pay more money just to make it look better in someone's books? If you want a divorce, you're going to get one. Let's not try to legislate Judeo-Christian terminology INTO an already failed human version of marriage, shall we? Worry about things that matter. It's very simple: If you get married, don't plan on divorce. In fact, don't even use the word. Take your vow seriously, and save all the hooplah and pomp of some worthless state-sponsored pat on the back.

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    • bobenish wrote on 2/19/2010 5:42:16 AM:

      Amazing that this group of Republicans is more intent on affecting the promise of others marriages than keeping their own promises. They have a state pension system that's among the two worst funded in the nation - less than 60 percent of their obligations covered.
      The Kansas Republicans promised the moon and delivered a cheap papier mache orb hanging by a thread.
      Smile Kansans, this is your GOP.

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    • Owlbe wrote on 2/19/2010 4:55:59 AM:

      It's crap like this that makes me ashamed to say I live in Kansas. Marriages are not going to succeed or fail based on a law. It takes love and you can't legislate that. Or maybe we can? We'll call it the "love covenant'. Any and all couples married or otherwise involved must stay in love for a period of not less that one year. Now all to gether everyone 'Joy to the World, Joy to the World...

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    • Tman wrote on 2/19/2010 1:25:43 AM:

      Great call legislature! And make sure you keep "evolution" in the closet too. Sure glad we got these folks to keep our moral compasses true. No doubt some of these marriages will go south with no hope of reconciliation. And no quick exit to get on with one's life. What a sad state of affairs.

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    More comments on this story: 1


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