State Policies to Promote Marriage. Preliminary Report.. Campaigns, Commissions, and Proclamations


Our first area of interest is the degree to which state officials publicly focus on marriage-related issues through statewide campaigns, commissions, and proclamations. (See Table 1 of the detailed matrices for specific state policies.) Nine states have undertaken an activity in this area. Three2 of the nine have enacted or proposed more than one activity in this general topic area. For instance, the Utah Governor established a Commission on Marriage and signed a proclamation.

State campaigns. These include media projects that extol the virtue of marriage and larger-scale initiatives, such as a statewide effort to curb divorce rates. Campaigns have been undertaken or proposed in four states. Two states (Arkansas and Oklahoma) launched campaigns to reduce the state divorce rate by one-third or more. Additionally, Oklahoma’s initiative created a media campaign to highlight marriage-building skills. Two states (Arizona and New Mexico) proposed media campaigns to promote the societal benefits of marriage, but the bills ultimately failed.

Commissions. These included “summits” that bring together diverse groups to discuss marriage-strengthening policies and commissions charged with implementing specific policies. Four states have launched commissions.3 Commission goals were diverse. Arizona established a commission to focus on a specific policy (encouraging community-based organizations to train married couples as mentors). Others were more general. The South Carolina Attorney General established a commission to develop policies to support marriage and the family. The Utah Governor and First Lady established a commission to focus attention on strengthening marriages and to gather information on best practices. A fifth state (Michigan) proposed a legislative commission on marriage and fatherhood earlier this year.

Proclamations. Two states issued proclamations recognizing the importance of marriage as a public good (North Carolina, Utah) and one reaffirmed marriage’s special status as the foundation for healthy families (Louisiana). Additionally, Louisiana and Utah proclaimed National Marriage Day (2/14/99) and Marriage Awareness Week (9/15/99).

State Commissions, Campaigns, or Proclamations Covenant Marriage No-fault Modifications Mandatory Divorce Education Different Divorce Laws for Parents Incentives for Marriage Preparation Marriage Education for Adults State Funding for Marriage Support State Tax: No/reduced Marriage Penalty4 Marriage Incentives, TANF Marriage Support, Home Visitation Marriage Support, Counseling Marriage Support, Fatherhood Programs School- Based Marriage Education Abstinence- until- Marriage Education Specialty Programs
Exhibit 1: Overview of Selected Policy Areas
Alabama   BNP             L L   L     L X
Alaska   BNP   BNP BNP BNP BNP   L              
Arizona X L BNP L L BNP L L L     L   BNP BC X
Arkansas X L   L L       L             X
California   BNP BC   BC   BNP   L L            
Colorado   BNP   BNP BNP       L             X
Connecticut       L L   BNP   L             X
Delaware                 L             X
DC                 L             X
Florida       L L L L   L       L L    
Georgia   BC L   L                   L X
Hawaii       L L       L   L       L X
Idaho     BC           L             X
Illinois       L L BC BC   L           L X
Indiana   BC BNP       L   L           L X
Iowa   BC   L L BNP/BC BNP/BC   L           L X
Kansas   BNP BC BNP BNP   BNP                 X
Kentucky     BNP BNP BNP       L             X
Louisiana X L             L             X
Maine                   L            
Maryland   BNP   BC BC L L               L X
Massachusetts     BC           L           L X
Michigan X BNP BC L/BC L/BC BNP/BC   L L     L     L X
Minnesota   BC BC L L L L     L           X
Mississippi   BC         L   L L/BNP     L   L  
Missouri   BC   L L       L           L X
Montana     BC L L       L           L X
Nebraska   BC   L L                   L X
Nevada                 L             X
New Hampshire     BC L L       L         X   X
New Jersey     BNP             L            
New Mexico X     L/BC L/BC BNP BNP             BNP    
New York                               X
North Carolina X                   L       L X
North Dakota                   L           X
Ohio   BC                           X
Oklahoma X BC     L L L L   L L L     L X
Oregon   BC                   L     L X
Pennsylvania       BNP/BC BNP/BC       L       X X   X
Rhode Island                               X
South Carolina X BNP                       X L X
South Dakota           BC BC   L         X   X
Tennessee   BC   L L BC BC   L L         L X
Texas   BC BNP L L   L L L       X     X
Utah X     L L   L L L   L L   BNP   X
Vermont       L L                     X
Virginia   BC BC L L   BNP   L       X   L X
Washington   BNP BC   BC       L BNP           X
West Virginia   BNP BC             L           X
Wisconsin   BC   BC BC   BC L           BC   X
Wyoming                 L             X
BC = Bill still under consideration
BNP = Bill that did not pass (e.g., died in committee)
L = Law
X = Policy/program in place