Covenant marriage to hit road block in House, singles adoption ban dead

Published 10:37 pm Saturday, March 15, 2008

House Judiciary A Committee Chairman Ed Blackmon says he’s killing a Senate bill that bans adoptions by unmarried couples and predicts that a covenant marriage bill will hit road blocks in his chamber.

Both bills were passed in the Senate. The covenant marriage bill would require couples who choose to go that route to attend premarital counseling and it would put tighter restrictions on the grounds for divorce.

The adoption bill prohibits people who live together outside of marriage from adopting. It was meant to clarify existing language that bans adoptions by gay couples, but would also apply to heterosexual couples who cohabitate.

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“I’m not bringing that one up,” Blackmon said in a telephone interview on Friday. “Single parents have done wondrous things for children in this society. To deny a child a loving life with a single parent would be cruel.”

Blackmon, D-Canton, said he’s heard a lot of opposition in the House to the covenant marriage bill. Blackmon, who is an attorney, said the legislation would “add layers to the relationship between two people who voluntarily enter into a marriage contract.”

Under the bill, a couple that filed for divorce would have a one-year “cooling off” period before the divorce was granted. During that time, the husband and wife would have to undergo counseling.

“In the meantime, you have two people who have obviously decided they don’t want to be together,” Blackmon said.

During debate earlier this month, Senate Judiciary A Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said the covenant marriage proposal is supported by clergy and psychologists who say covenants are one of the best ways to strengthen marriages.

The bills are Senate Bill 2766 and Senate Bill 2550.