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Introducing the first bizarre amendment of the 2013 Oklahoma Legislative Session: Covenant Marriage

1:48 PM EST on January 14, 2013

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Last Tuesday, the State House of Representatives kicked off the first regular session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature, or as we like to call it, the annual gathering of wackos, idiots and nut jobs. It's the time of year where stupid bills are introduced, stupid bills are passed, and stupid Sally Kern offends someone by speaking. Basically, it's the TLO version of the holiday shopping season. The period in time where we get enough traffic and hits to keep us up and running for the rest of the year.

Last year's legislative session will be hard to top. We had bills and amendments introduced that would have banned fetuses in the food supply, made semen sacred, and given fertilized fetuses the right to own firearms. When they weren't introducing bizarre legislation, the crazies were doing things like fighting on the floor, inviting Baptist preachers to talk about science and the constitution, and complaining about the "edginess" of the OETA Movie Club.

Fortunately for us, some State Representatives and Senators are making sure that 2013 will also be an entertaining year, too. They are hard at work filing legislation and amendments to pacify the church leaders, Chamber of Commerce executives and farmers who helped get them elected. One of these legislators is State Senator (and amateur scientist) Josh Brecheen. He's introduced SB 105. The legislation, if passed, would give young naive couples the option to enter into a "Covenant Marriage" when getting married.

What's a covenant marriage? Here's a description from the bill:

A covenant marriage is a marriage entered into by a man and woman who understand and agree that the marriage between them is a lifelong relationship. Parties to a covenant marriage shall obtain counseling emphasizing the nature and purposes of marriages and the responsibilities thereof

So basically it’s like a normal marriage, except for three key things:

1. You go out of your way to announce that marriage is a “lifelong relationship.”
2. You have to go through pre-marital counseling
3. It’s much more difficult to get a divorce.

You see, the Oklahoma Constitution lists 12 grounds for divorce in a traditional marriage. They range from common ones like incompatibility (I’m familiar with that one) and adultery, to less cited ones impotency, habitual drunkenness and being an OSU fan. However, if you want to get a divorce after entering in a covenant marriage, you have fewer options. The grounds for divorce after entering a covenant marriage are basically abuse, adultery, abandonment, fraud, and a year of separation.

Wow, kind of archaic, huh? If you’re a dude and enter into a covenant marriage with your wife, you can turn into a drunken, incompetent OSU fan and your wife will have to stay married to you. Why in the world would anyone agree to that? And more importantly, why would Senator Josh Brecheen introduce this legislation?

Oh wait, here's the answer:

Yeah, that may have been predictable, but who cares. It gave me an excuse to post a pic of Senator Brecheen and his blonde southern MILFADLBYOLO. Even though she's married to a guy who's somehow pro-puppy mills(!) and thinks the dinosaurs are extinct because Noah didn't save them, it's just too difficult to turn down that opportunity.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of covenant marriage is to reduce the divorce rate, but it doesn't work. From Gambit Weekly, the alternative-weekly for New Orleans:

Covenant marriage was hailed by supporters as an attempt to strengthen the family and protect children. Critics called it a potentially dangerous injection of religious belief into a civil commitment and worried that it might trap women in loveless or abusive marriages. Two months after its passage, then-Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, predicted, "I think in about a year a majority of couples will make [covenancy] part of their marriage plans."

He was wrong. In its first year, only 1 percent of Louisiana marriages were covenants. Today, nearly 12 years later, the total has edged closer to 2 percent. Nor has covenant marriage reduced general divorce rates. In 1997, when covenant marriage became law, 13,836 divorces were granted in Louisiana. In 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), the divorce total was 15,230.

Figures are similar in Arizona and Arkansas, the only two other states that have adopted the practice. More than 20 other statehouses have introduced covenant marriage into committee, only to have the bills wither and fail.

Let's hope the covenant marriage movement in Oklahoma meets the same fate as it did in those 20 other state legislatures. Divorce is difficult enough own its own. Making it more difficult to obtain one doesn't solve any problem. It just makes it worse. Trust me.

Maybe a better solution to the divorce problem would be to make it more difficult to get married. Sounds logical to me. I bet if you prevented people from rushing into marriage, the divorce rate would go down a few percentage points. For example, maybe we should pass a law requiring that couples live with each other for six months before making their holy vows and signing the appropriate paper work. I know it's cliché, but you should always test drive the car before buying. I bet these two would agree.

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