The Denver Post has just reported that some folks from California are proposing a ballot initiative that would require anyone seeking to marry in Colorado most first complete a ten hour pre-marriage education course. If this were a second marriage, the course could be for twenty hours. If for a third marriage, thirty hours of education would be required. One assumes the proponents of this ballot initiative would be willing to teach the class (provided they were paid for their services). If the couple getting married could not afford the cost we can assume the proponents would want the tax payers to foot the bill. The proponents don’t seem to worry about this proposal infringing upon anyone’s right to marry or the new level of government intrusion into everyone’s private life that would occur. While educating young adults about certain necessary “life skills” (e.g. parenting, filing tax returns, buying insurance, and basic health issues) might be something we could all agree could be taught in every high school, mandating marriage classes before a couple could marry is a bad idea.
Marriage and civil unions are something that should not be entered lightly. There are legal and financial issues that couples should consider before tying the knot. Not everyone does but, that should be their choice. We are seeing more and more couples negotiate pre-nuptial agreements to try to get agreement on their financial situation before becoming legally joined. That is also their choice and should not be mandated by the State. Having children is a significant commitment that couples should discuss and carefully consider if at all possible. Many more couples today have children without getting married than they did forty years ago. All of these choices are part of our current culture. Whether one agrees with these choices or not, the State should not be making those choices for us.
We live in an age where many believe the government needs to regulate as much as of our private lives as possible. While it is clear that some government regulation is necessary, this proposal goes well beyond anything the citizens should tolerate.