Waymon Hudson

Only Rich Christians Should Marry?

Filed By Waymon Hudson | March 18, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Living, Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Florida, Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, marriage, Premarital Preparation bill, relationship recognition, Strong Marriages Campaign, Yes2Marriage

The folks who brought us Florida's horrific Amendment 2 are back in the business of interfering with people's private lives... again.

John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council and the Yes2Marriage Campaign, now wants to make it harder and more expensive for heterosexual couples to marry and divorce. The "Strong Marriages Campaign" is promoting a "Premarital Preparation bill" before the Florida Legislature that would add $100 to the state's marriage-license fee and do away with no fault divorce.

His catchy tag-line of fundamentalist relationship control?

Harder to get in and harder to get out.

Much more after the jump...

Stemberger says just like same-sex marriages (or any type of relationship recognition that isn't religiously sanctioned marriage), the "ease at which people get married and divorced threatens the foundation of society."

Are you sure it's not religious zealotry that's the threat?

The money raised by the higher marriage license fee would go to a fund that would give grants to (wait for it...) faith-based organizations that share Stemberger's ideology, like the ultra conservative Live the Life Ministries, which would provide "counseling" to couples looking to marry. The counseling includes a 150-question "premarital inventory" that asks couples if they are living together, which counseling would discourage, since the groups consider unmarried couples "a threat to the institution of marriage and a contributing factor to societal ills."


Stemberger also wants to get rid of Florida's no-fault divorce laws. He is advocating a waiting period of at least a year from the time a divorce is filed until it is finalized. For couples with children, both parents would need to agree to the divorce.

Ah, nothing like a little patriarchal control in relationships to put women and children back in their "place"- under the rule of men.

Making divorce harder has no effect on making marriages better. And making it more expensive to marry only creates bigger poverty issues, larger inequities in economic status, and destabilizes the ability of family members to care for one another. Basically, in Stemberger's narrow view, only rich Christians will be able to marry and only men (and the church) will be able to decide if couples should split.

We should be expanding beyond marriage and recognizing all sorts of relationships, not handing over control to fanatics who want to control every aspect of people's lives. This is simply conservative Christian religious ideology and control disguised as public policy and "budget saving" ideas.

Stemberger needs to stay out of everyone else's lives and relationships.

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FINALLY. I've been telling people that if they thought the fundies would stop with The Homosexuals they were kidding themselves, and it finally happened.

There's no way it'll pass, but maybe it'll wake some people up if someone threatens to disrupt their lives and their marriages.

I just want to make clear that this is NOT conservative Christian religious ideology in totality. This is ONE narrow-minded viewpoint from one very narrow-minded man.

You make an excellent point in saying that lengthening the time period for granting divorce would do nothing to make marriages better. Many conservative Christians would agree on this point, as well as others you've made. That's all.

Excellent post. And thanks for the heads up. :)

well...give them points for theologic consistency. Bonus points if this particular clown's never had a divorce, himself.

Still an idiotic idea, and I love how that first clause (counselling by a specific set of ministries) kinda runs into a silly little bit of writing... oh, how'd it go? Oh, yeah.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Oh, this is appalling! The only good thing about this proposal is that maybe it will help people realize what nutters these folks really are.

This made me think of this story from Pennsylvania I saw this morning:

So how, the Toths now wonder, is their marriage considered legal in Montgomery County, but possibly null and void in Bucks? ... clerks, such as those in Bucks and Delaware counties... want the state marriage-license law tightened. They say the institution of marriage is being sullied, if not undermined, by nontraditional ministers and those who they believe are irreligious, liberal couples seeking to stretch the law...

Everyone knows requiring couples to go through pre-marital counselling and making divorce harder is undoubtedly going to "preserve the sanctity of marriage" - NOT!

I'd tell the fundies to look at the divorce rate of Catholics who have to go through this bullsh*t already as evidence it ain't gonna work, but why bother? Their mind is made up and I dare not confuse them with FACTS.

(BTW, I left the Catholic church 10+ years ago and now attend one that is open and accepting.)

Rick Elliott | March 19, 2009 1:45 AM

Wayne Hudson makes the assumption that conservative religious ideology is Christian. I believe that point needs to be part of the whole discussion.I've heard their strategies called religious masturbation, emotional manipulation, and believes it has the corner on truth. A respected English Theologian refers to these premises as a sect; tending to reinforce ones prejudices and more kin to the Pharisees with whom Jesus had a running battle and embarrassed at every possible opportunity.
At one parish I handled the overflow from a campus chapel. the Presbyterian constitution requires premarital counselling. I got pretty good at it. And considered it a success that 6 couples decided not to marry after the work I put them through. I dealt with the premise that there are stress points all couples go through and I was to help them deal with those while the pressure of arguing or stand-taking commenced. If interested, I'm Rev. Rick [email protected]

Excellent article. As a former Florida resident, this unfortunately does not surprise me. Typical hypocrisy from the "family values" crowd!

Getting rid of "no fault divorce laws"...just, wow!
Patriarchy on steroids. Maybe it has something to do with the states' phallic shape. :)

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 19, 2009 7:43 AM

Stemberger will achieve more heteros "living in sin." Dummies!

Considering the divorce rate I don't know that I disagree with the premise of counseling as Rick above has mentioned. When we achieve marriage or marriage equivalency I think it should be as stringent for us. I still want a 90% success rate.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 19, 2009 8:20 AM

The counseling should be as stringent for us :)

Chip Clapp Chip Clapp | March 19, 2009 9:33 AM

I just have a few questions...
1. It's obvious that they want to benefit what they believe is the family structure: father, mother and children. They will make it harder for these family units to break up. But what about getting them together? If they're trying to raise fees, what will that do to the pregnant teenagers that they insist get married who might not necessarily have the money to do so? Will they offer scholarships?
2. As often happens in today's society, people may live together for years before deciding to get married. If the ministries in their pre-marital counseling find people living together, their lives joined for years already, would they recommend a separation prior to marriage? If their reasoning is to avoid pre-marital sex or "living in sin", do they then seek to redefine sex laws in the state, taking away people's right to have consentual sex? For anyone believing in a liberal faith-based or civil, rather than conservative, faith-based definition of marriage, recommending separation and sexual conduct based on a particular sect's code of conduct could have some serious First Amendment violations.

And I quote: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." When are we going to get them on this? How many times do we have to say that other religions contain other values that may counter theirs and they constitutionally are required to stop what they're doing?

At least this dude is honest about his agenda, which is complete authoritarian oppression of anyone who's a little bit different.

As for the $100, well, I'd love to levy a tax on something and be able to collect it too. :)

I plan to Vote Yes on his amendment. Let all those 60%+ who voted to deny me my rights get a little taste of their own medicine.

I went through couples counseling through a church before I got married - we still divorced six years later.

I live in Florida, and my current partner is in the middle of a divorce with his ex (they've been separated a good ten years). It sickens me to realize if this law gets past, he has the possibility of being stuck with the marriage if his ex chose to be vindictive. That she would have more rights to his death benefits, hospital visitation, and next of kin than myself.

Hopefully the non-profit he works for will be working against this.

DanaRSullivan | March 19, 2009 12:06 PM

Urgh. I really don't understand the concept of "protecting" marriage by requiring people to stay in bad marriages for longer periods of time. Divorce is like surgery. It's not fun, but when you need one, you need one.

Regan DuCasse | March 19, 2009 5:03 PM

Doesn't this nitwit understand that our society been there and done that with HIS kind of marriage idea ALREADY?
It's not new and it was unworkable BEFORE.
He's dragging out an old tradition that wasn't egalitarian nor especially about the QUALITY of the marriage and the individuals in it.

And again this has NOTHING to do with gay people.
Homosexuality isn't a cultural invention, like religion. So there should be FAR more understanding of that and how gay couples can and do participate in the more egalitarian modern marriage we know today.

Slimy bottom-feeder Stemberger is at it again. None of his schemes are to "protect marriage." They are intended to line his pockets even further.

I seem to remember after Amendment 2 passed there was a comment regarding his privately owned law firm that will stand to make million$ as his firm was retained to defend the state against the class action law suit.

How much of the money raised by the higher marriage license fee would go to his "faith-based" pockets?