To: House Human Services Committee
From: Christopher T. Dodson, Executive Director
Subject: Senate Bill 2041 (Marriage License Fee and Premarital Counseling)
Date: February 26, 2007

The North Dakota Catholic Conference supports Senate Bill 2041 as one way the state can encourage the development of healthy marriages.

Senate Bill 2041 comes out the interim Judiciary Committee’s study of the state’s marriage laws and methods for strengthening the institution of marriage. As an example of information the committee received, I have provided an outline of the presentation I gave to the committee last March. That presentation, along with others given to the committee, discusses the wealth of social data that demonstrates the advantages of marriage for children, adults, and society.

Since marriage is a social good, the state has a legitimate interest in encouraging the formation of healthy marriages. Senate Bill 2041 does this in two ways.

First, discounting the marriage license fee for couples who have received premarital counseling provides to those considering marriage an incentive to receive premarital counseling before making this important commitment.

Second, and perhaps even more importantly, Senate Bill 2041 sends a message that couples should not take marriage lightly and without serious preparation. Civil marriage is, after all, a state institution with social consequences. Encouraging premarital counseling is one way the state can invest in the development of healthy marriages.

We urge a
Do Pass recommendation on Senate Bill 2041.