We have a right-wing nut-job here in the Texas Panhandle who has made it his personal goals to pass stupid laws and embarrass Panhandle residents. It is Republican Rep. Warren Chisum. In the last legislative session in 2007, he decided he knew how to fix Texas marriages and bring down the divorce rate -- whether anybody wanted him to or not.
He decided that everyone should get some marriage counseling before they got married. To try and force people to do this, he doubled the state portion of the marriage license fee from $30 to $60. All the couple had to do was get some pre-marital counseling, and the fee would be waived.
The only thing he didn't think of was that most people do not want the state to interfere in their marriage plans. As one Dallasite who wed last December said, "The state doesn’t have any business telling me what constitutes a good marriage."
It turns out that his program has been a huge failure (as anyone with half a brain could have predicted). Most couples have just paid the extra $30 and bypassed the counseling program. Tarrant County is a good example, where out of about 5,000 marriages only about 140 have opted for the counseling. That's less than 3%. That's not just a failure -- it's a spectacular failure.
But failure doesn't seem to faze Chisum. He's still determined to interject his ideas into other people's marriages. In this legislative session, he's introduced a bill that would force people to get marriage counseling before a judge could finalize their pending divorce. It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that some divorces are good and need to happen.
Why would you force a woman to go to counseling with a husband who beats her (and who she may be trying to hide from)? Why would you force a woman to go to counseling with a man who was abusing her children? Is it really a good idea to force a woman to go to counseling with an alcoholic or drug addict?
He seems to think that men and women are too stupid to know when a divorce is the best thing, and they need a psychologist to tell them if it's OK or not. Chisum may be that stupid, but most other people are not.
I think it's time for Chisum to get his big nose out of other people's marriages.