I couldn't agree more with Theo Ooms' letter below.  We must get a
message to Gov. Jesse Ventura and the well-intentioned leaders like him
who think they are protecting us and our marriages from government
interference. Instead, their highly  romanticized position is helping to
perpetuate ignorance, family breakdown and damage. Ventura believed
he was doing the right thing when he vetoed the Minnesota
Marriage Education legislation bill of 2000.

Providing couples with information about how to make their
marriages successful is the best - and most respectful -
way to keep government out of our private lives. Empowering
couples with skills and knowledge will help them - will truly keep
marriage a private matter.

Government interferes when a couple doesn't have the skills to handle
disagreements without pushing and hitting.

Government interferes when marriages fail.  That's when government decides
who gets custody of your kids, how many hours a month you
can 'visit' them and how much money you will pay to support them.

Government interferes in your life when your marriage fails -
or when you fail to marry due to lack of confidence in the institution -
and you are forced to go on public assistance.

A successful marriage allows you to raise your kids and run your
life with privacy and dignity.

We make information about other 'private" issues available - diet,
exercise, smoking, drunk driving, fetal health, safe sex, seat belts,
bike helmets, child discipline, etc. etc.

Why not make the new information (discovered through taxpayer-funded
research) about how to make marriages successful widely available to the public?
You don't have to quit smoking, but it's nice to know what the research
has discovered about the effects.

You don't have to get smart about your marriage.  But it's nice to
have the option.  A successful marriage is not a choice if you
don't know how to do it. It is irresponsible of government
to have the information and not make it available to the public.
Marriage is one of the most important indicators of health, success,
and happiness for all our citizens.

Someone out there must know Jesse Ventura.  I'm sure he thinks we're
talking  about mandating marriage COUNSELING and marital THERAPY.  Like the vast
majority of  Americans, he has no concept of what marriage skills education and the
new information, like that found in "THE CASE FOR MARRIAGE," is about.

Diane Sollee
CMFCE

********************
 

Diane-

While it was great to see the prominent coverage given to the State of Our
Unions in last night's NBC Nightly News story I was troubled by the
emphasis on critics who deplore government "intervention",  such as Governor Jesse
Ventura attacking initiatives to encourage premarital education through
stating that government has no business "interfering in the private
affairs of marriage".

Who are you kidding, Jesse?  As you well know,  there are hundreds of ways
in which government laws and actions already are deeply involved in
marriage and divorce. To begin with state laws define the terms and conditions
under which we are allowed to marry and divorce. Many even require that
divorcing couples undergo a trial of mediation where custody is in dispute, and many
local jurisdictions are now requiring that divorcing parents undergo
co-parenting education.  Most people are familiar with the fact that tax
laws penalize marriage in some situations and reward marriage in others
and that welfare laws have often created disincentives to marry and incentives
to cohabit. And of course, there are numerous government programs funded
by tax payer dollars designed to address the negative consequences on
children, adults and communities of the decline in marriage.

We must all do that we can to shatter the myth that marriage is a private
issue.  The issue is not whether government should be involved --- it
already is, deeply --- but how government should be involved.   The debate
needs to be about the goals of government couples and marriage policy and
how best to achieve them.   It's time we stopped letting our leaders treat
marriage as the "M-word" --- off limits to public discussion --- and
challenge them to actively explore ways in which government can work with
the non profit, religious, business and other major sectors to strengthen
marriage not weaken it.  Happily, as the news story also pointed out, a
growing number of states, communities, and individuals are doing just
this.

Theodora Ooms
Couples and Marriage Policy Resource Center
CLASP
1616 P St NW, Suite 150
Washington, DC 20036
202-328-5163
tooms@clasp.org