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Covenant marriage going nowhere fast

Who could have predicted the failure of convenant marriage to catch on in the bible beat — muwahahahahaha — just about everyone reading this, that’s who.

You remember the brouhaha…by creating this sort of super-duper-padlocked version of marriage, the hets in God’s country (of Louisiana, Arizona and Arkansas, where covenant version exists) were supposed to flock to it, and show us what commitment is all about.

The governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee and his wife, famously and publicly traded in their traditional marriage for a souped up, throw away the key one.

The high-level, red-alert version of marriage involves these extra hurdles, for those who don’t remember the details:

Before marrying, you have to go through counseling. You have to affirm orally and in writing that your marriage is “for life,” that you accept its “responsibilities,” that you’ve “chosen each other carefully,” that you’ve “disclosed to one another everything” important, and that you’ll “take all reasonable efforts to preserve our marriage, including marital counseling.” Divorce takes longer than today’s no-fault dissolutions, and the grounds are narrower. The prescribed waiting period is usually two years.

That’s from William Saletan’s entertaining and informative column in the WaPo on same-sex marriage and the level of commitment gays and lesbians have shown in the last few years versus the bible-beating crowd, who have opted in very small small numbers, to take advantage of covenant marriage.

The pioneers of covenant marriage thought their followers would flock to it. They were wrong. In states conservative enough to promote it, fewer than one in 100 marrying couples have chosen this option — about 6,000 to 7,000 couples, judging from published data. Meanwhile, in states liberal enough to permit same-sex marriage or civil unions, thousands of gay couples have signed up — more than 7,300 in Massachusetts, 1,200 in Vermont (6,600 more if you count out-of-staters) and 700 in Connecticut. About 3,700 gay couples have registered for domestic partnerships in New Jersey, and 30,000 or so have registered in California. More blue-state gay couples than red-state straight couples are signing up for as much commitment as the law allows.

Yes. Read that paragraph again. Email it to your homobigot relatives and elected officials. How about showing them this:

Louisiana: The first year that the law was in effect, only 1% of Louisiana newlyweds chose the covenant vows. That percentage has increased slowly over the last couple years, but it is still quite low.

Arizona: According to Scott D. Drewianka of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, only one-fourth of one percent of couples getting married in Arizona select the covenant marriage option.

Arkansas: Although Arkansas has one of the nation’s highest divorce rate at 6.5 per 1,000 population, the number of Arkansas couples signing up for a covenant marriage is very small. The national average for divorce in the U.S. is 4.2 per 1,000 population.

According to William Bailey, Ph.D., of the University of Arkansas, there has been a decline in the number of new marriages choosing covenant marriage licenses. In the time frame from 2001 – 2004, only 400 couples opted for covenant marriage licenses. In 2002, the Dept. of Health, Vital Statistics reported 37,942 marriage licenses issued in Arkansas. Only sixty-seven (67) couples signed up for the covenant marriage option. Twenty-four (24) who were already married converted to covenant marriages.

As of May 20, 2003, out of 11,037 marriage licenses issued in Arkansas, there were only four (4) new covenant marriages, and five (5) conversions.

Or this:

Red States Divorce rate
State # divorces per 1,000
Utah 4.7
Wyoming 6.5
Idaho 6
Nebraska 3.8
Oklahoma 5.9
North Dakota 3.2
Alabama 5.8
Kansas 4.1
Alaska 4.9
Texas 5
Average 5

Compare to the Blue States, with the lowest rates.

State # divorces
Massachusetts 2.5
Rhode Island 3.6
Vermont 4.4
New York 3.1
Maryland 3.1
Connecticut 3
California 4.3
Illinois 3.4
Maine 4.2
Hawaii 4.3
Average 3.6

Eat all of that, Dobson, Falwell, Wildmon and the rest of the high and mighty “leaders” and “protectors” of marriage. You can’t even get your sheeple to upgrade to the “permanent” solution where it exists in order to prove your moral superiority, and the divorce rates speak for themselves. You and your followers are more interested in oppressing people who want access to the same civil rights and commitments you have access to. We don’t need your hyper-biblical version of marriage, we just want the economy model.

Am I bitter? Damn straight. 🙂

Back to this nonsense of covenant marriage. This “upgrade” comes with some serious problems attached to it, from the standpoint that it creates risk for those in abusive relationships — and it is proving itself out. A reader email in the marriage section of describes the dark side of covenant marriage.

The law is so ambigious that most courts will not even HEAR any cases concerning covenant marriages WITHOUT a two year separation AND counseling. Even though the law states you have 3 “outs” (abuse, adultery, and felony conviction resulting in JAIL TIME, it is NOT the case. If one member of the marriage does NOT want “out”, the court does not even have to hear the case. That is how scary the covenant marriage is, especially when faced with what I was faced with. Abuse has to be proven, and it seems only physical abuse is acceptable AND only IF the spouse is beating you up in court. Adultery, the courts will just mandate counseling for two years, and even after the counseling, if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce…guess what? You must stay married. Felony, there has to be actual jail time.

The guy I was married to informed me that as long as he doesn’t hit me with a closed fist, it is NOT abuse. And it would not result in a felony arrest. And even if it DID, as long as HE didn’t want to divorce, guess what? I would not get a divorce. And this is how the courts here are interpreting the law. It is scary and frightening.

No wonder the AmTaliban’s all for covenant marriage. It’s all about control.

BTW, we’re paying to save marriages. Dear Leader is spending over $200 million to “develop innovative approaches to promote healthy marriages,” and on the promotion of “family formation and healthy marriage activities.” Maybe a few more coins need to be tossed at the Red State folks who can’t manage to hold their marriages together. It might help if these people stopped fixating on lesbian and gay relationships and take a look at what’s happening (or not happening) under their own roof.

Thanks to Blender Kevin M. for the pointers to Ex-Gay Watch and A Tenable Belief

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding