Thursday, April 12, 2007

Here's Chism in Your Eye

The Texas House tentatively passed a bill yesterday that would raise the marriage license fee from $30 to $100 unless couples agree to take an eight-hour marriage education class. Authored by the ever-reactionary Warren Chism (R-Pampa), House Bill 2685 would grant a free marriage license to couples who take the class (unless they’re gay, of course).

Aside from the paucity of legitimate research demonstrating the long-term effectiveness of premarital education in actually preventing divorce, whether I choose to avail myself of such a service is none of the state’s goddamn business. Chism’s bill is primarily a sop to faith-based organizations that would reap a windfall in class fees for conducting what amounts to state-sanctioned religious indoctrination.

At the same time, the bill is another attempt to make up revenue lost through property tax cuts primarily benefiting wealthy landowners by imposing a regressive, fee-based tax that will disproportionately bite the poor.

Naturally, Chism doesn’t want to stop at prodding Texas couples into premarital education. He also wants couples seeking divorce to take a 10-hour marriage crisis class or wait two years until their divorce becomes final. Chism’s ultimate goal is to do away with no-fault divorce altogether in the holy name of the wee widdle children. I guess as long as they’re not eating government cheese, it is fine by him if children grow up in a home with two angry parents who hate each other.

There’s no romance in divorce, but it is a basic human right on the same level as marriage. Not allowing it creates a marital relationship built on political, economic and spiritual coercion instead of interpersonal respect.

Fortunately, Chism’s bill has yet to find a Senate sponsor, which makes its chance of getting signed into law questionable at best.

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