Freedom Of Religion, Freedom From Religion, And Especially Freedom From Some Other Guy's Religion In The Right To Divorce
People make mistakes in getting married.
Research finds that children are harmed when parents divorce and the family is torn apart -- but children are also harmed by eating Frosted Flakes.
We don't force people to feed their children a certain breakfast, and it isn't right to force a couple to remain together -- even if divorce is worse for their children (and much worse for some children, as you'll see at the above link, which takes a conservative approach to the harm).
(A caveat on the divorce thing: It seems to be better for parents to divorce if it is a terrible and violent marriage.)
Well, a religious guy in Texas, State Rep. Matt Krause, is trying to impose his views about the sanctity of marriage on everybody else. Alex Zielinski writes in the San Antonio Current that Krause wants to repeal a person's right to get divorced simply because they have irreconcilable differences (aka "no-fault" divorce). Krause also seeks to substantially delay the time it takes to get a divorce, from 60 days (currently) to 180 days:
The Fort Worth Republican has filed two bills for the looming 2017 Texas Legislature: One that more than doubles the amount of time a couple must wait to finalize a divorce, and another to repeal a person's right to divorce for non-criminal reasons. Krause said he filed these bills in hopes of giving children a better future -- and preserving the sanctity of marriage.
But taking away Texans' freedom to divorce without cause may actually worsen a child's wellbeing, lock abused spouses into violent relationships, and essentially make divorce a privilege of the wealthy.
"Marriage has been devalued over the past decades," Krause said. "It's time to admit we made a mistake."
Krause believes "no fault" divorces -- ones that are simply rooted in a couple's unresolvable differences -- are the culprit.
These "no fault" divorces have only been legal in Texas since 1970. Up until then, a person had to prove in court that their spouse was "at fault," meaning they were either cruel, adulterous, a felon, had intentionally abandoned them, moved away (in a mutual agreement), or lived in a mental hospital.
The 1970 law intended to cut back on the constant issues with falsified evidence in divorce court and to avoid unnecessary animosity between divorcees with children -- for the kid's sake. After such laws passed across the country, however, social scientists stumbled upon a significant unforeseen benefit.
By 2006, states that passed the law saw a 8-16 percent decline in female suicide, a 30 percent decline in domestic violence for both men and women, and a 10 percent decline in females murdered by their partners. As marriage rates declined in America, so have the rates domestic abuse.
Krause, however, said his bill will reinstate a "century-old law" to replace its predecessor, a law he calls a "mistake."
When a member of a couple with children writes to me for advice, if they aren't in a horrible situation -- if say, they just aren't all that excited by their spouse anymore -- I encourage them to see whether they can make it work until the kids go off to college.
It's my belief from interviews I've done with anthropologist Sarah Hrdy (which I have yet to use) and others that it's the stability of a family and the continuation of that family that's very important for kids and what goes missing in divorce.
Still, I don't think a legislator with religious beliefs has a right -- nor does anyone -- to force people to stay together unless one of them has committed a criminal act, committed adultery, or any of the other options for proving "fault."
As law prof Jonathan Turley writes:
Krause ran for office as someone who would bring his faith to his public office. He is the son of a Baptist pastor and his mother is a teacher of the Castle Hills First Baptist School (from where he graduated). Krause attended San Diego Christian College and is a graduate in the very first graduating class of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia. He then opened a Texas office of Liberty Counsel.
He is entitled to his views and clearly reflects the views of a majority of his constituents. However, he would rightfully object if other religions sought to impose their moral code on this family or try to make family decisions more difficult to reflect their own moral codes.
I am all in favor of Krause campaigning to educate couples to resist the temptation to divorce and to try to resolve differences in the interests of their children. It is his use of public powers that is problematic for those of us who prefer to keep the government out of our homes and private affairs.
Conservatives aren't really for "small government" if they're only for that about stuff the Democrats and the various shades of commies want.