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March 6, 2013 Print

Take Action: Florida Lawmakers Introduce Marriage Education Bills

by Bethany Monk

Florida legislators filed bills last week that, if passed, would create a Marriage Education Handbook designed to help strengthen relationships between couples. The handbook would be distributed through court clerks in the state and would be available to those applying for marriage licenses.

“So many young couples getting married today come from broken homes and cannot draw upon a living example of how marriage works,” said state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who filed one of the bills — SB 1586 . “Marriage is one of the greatest safeguards against poverty in our society and this handbook will be an invaluable resource to hundreds of thousands of newly married could to help them develop healthy and strong marriages.”

The handbook will include information on communication skills, conflict resolution, parenting and finance management. The book will also provide contact information for couples who may need personal or professional help with their marriages in the future. Private foundations will cover the production and design costs.

Lawmakers will offer an amendment to the bill that will ensure the handbook includes resources to help victims of domestic violence. The amendment will also provide the clerk of the court with specific instructions outlining distribution of the handbooks.

Other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah have created marriage handbooks.

Saving marriages is a victory for children and for Florida as a whole.

“The state has a compelling interest in keeping marriages and families successful and thriving,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, who filed companion bill HB 1163. “In Florida alone, the taxpayers cost as a result of family fragmentation from divorce and unwed child bearing is just short of two billion dollars every year. Every marriage that is saved and strengthened is both an economic and a social victory for Florida.”

Take Action to Protect Marriage
Ask your elected officials to support the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  

Learn more about SB 1586.

Learn more about HB 1163.