The Creepy Concept of Covenant Marriage

Recently, I came across a disturbing little factoid. In 1997, the state of Louisiana passed Covenant Marriage into law. Arkansas and Arizona later jumped on the bandwagon. Thank goodness no other states have taken the bait.

These policies, if you opt into them, make marriage more difficult to get into, and a lot more difficult to get out of. For starters, according to Wikipedia, you have to attend premarital counseling sessions, which “emphasize the nature, purposes, and responsibilities of marriage”, and you must sign a statement saying that the marriage is for life.

While I think premarital counseling is a great idea, I wonder who exactly is conducting these sessions. And I really would have a problem with having someone other than me and my spouse dictate what the nature, purpose and responsibilities of our marriage are to be. Marriage is what you make it. No two are alike.

And as for signing one’s life away, if you aren’t confident that the other person is going to try for a lifelong commitment unless they put it in writing, then you might want to reexamine how much you trust this person in the first place. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship. If you don’t have that, you’re building a castle on sand.

This is starting to sound like the equivalent of a homeowners’ association for relationships. I chafe at rules and regulations. I’ll pass.

Even worse are the restrictions placed on getting out of the marriage. In a covenant marriage, you are waiving your rights to a no-fault divorce. Before you can even consider divorce, you have to first go to counseling. You must also be able to prove that your spouse has committed adultery, a felony, is a drug addict or a sexual predator, or that you’ve been living apart for at least a year (perhaps two, depending on the state.)

First of all, why bother with counseling if your spouse is involved in such heinous acts? Those things, as far as I’m concerned, are deal breakers.

And you notice there’s no provision for your husband punching you in the face and not being prosecuted for it, nor is there an option if your wife suddenly joins a cult. Your only recourse in those situations would be a long painful separation, and there’s no guarantee that the nut job in question would agree to being apart.

Life is messy. It can go south in many ways that are outside the bounds of these few legislative dicta. No one should have the right to define what you deem to be unsupportable.

Is it just me, or is it creepy and strange that these three super red states, full to the brim with conservatives who claim to want less government, not more, are all for these highly regulated covenant marriages? But then, this legislates religion and “family values”, and restricts the freedom of women even further, so yeah, I guess it makes sense.

Fortunately, these three states have not made covenant marriage mandatory, and less than 1 percent of the couples getting married each year in these places opt in to this foolishness. But still, it seems like a disturbing, backward trend, and it gives me the willies.

I love holding my husband’s hand, but I wouldn’t want to be handcuffed to it.

Business people handcuffed together

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Sovereign Citizens: The Tip of the Tassel on the Lunatic Fringe

None of us like to pay taxes. But most of us are rational human beings who realize that the nation’s infrastructure can’t be provided for free. If we are stupid enough to break a law, we may not like getting arrested, but we sure appreciate it when an operator is at the other end of the line when we feel the need to dial 911. The vast majority of us use the nation’s highways and bridges, and are grateful that traffic lights function, fire departments respond, libraries are available, tainted food is recalled, and 12 year olds can’t buy cocaine at the local Stop n’ Shop.

But there is a group out there that seems to think that they can have their cake and eat it, too. They feel that they are above the law and do not recognize the authority of federal and state governments. They live within this country, take advantage of what it has to offer, but refuse to contribute to it in any way, and in fact believe they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. If they didn’t resort to violence and hate speech and frivolous law suits to clog up our courts, their selfishness and irrationality would be laughable, but they are waaaaaay out there in nut-job land, and it’s kind of scary, knowing that these people walk among us.

Here is a short list of lunatics who are considered Sovereign Citizens, according to the website Hatewatch, by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • Eddie Jones, the candidate expected to win a county commissioner seat in Memphis, Tennessee, was fired as a Memphis Police officer for his use of cocaine 18 years ago. Recently he stopped paying his mortgage to protest changes in where to send the payments. He only had three years to go before the house was paid off. Naturally the bank started foreclosure procedures, so he sued them, calling himself “a living man created in the image of God, with indefeasible title to our land,” ordering the bank’s agents “to immediately CEASE and DESIST any further actions.” The man is in cloud cuckoo land.
  • Israel Rondon fatally lost a gunfight with the sheriffs in Ohio in March. They had come to arrest him for probation violations. His rap sheet included illegal weapons charges and assaulting an officer, and driving without a license. He has filed multiple rambling and incoherent lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages against various government agencies and banks.
  • Mark Kulis, another Ohio Sovereign Citizen, caused his entire neighborhood to be evacuated in January when the police found bombs in his foreclosed home during an eviction process. The walls and ceilings of his house were covered with anti-government graffiti, and the tree in his front yard had been covered with strange, incomprehensible messages. He once told a neighbor that someone had drilled a hole in his home’s foundation and inserted termite larva.
  • In Arkansas, police officers pulled over Jerry Kane and his 16 year old son Joseph for a routine investigation of some unusual Ohio (what is it about Ohio???) license plates. Jerry got out of the car and started arguing with the officers, and Joseph then got out of the car with an AK-47 and shot one of the cops and pinned the other down with gunfire. After chasing the second cop and killing him, he returned to the first cop and shot him in the back of the head. The Kanes then drove away. After a chase and another shoot out where two more officers were wounded, the Kanes were both killed. They had been traveling the country as Sovereign Citizens, giving sparsely attended seminars on avoiding foreclosure. This comprehensive article on the Kanes will give you some amazing details on this lunatic fringe movement.
  • David Carroll Stephenson, of Washington State, was convicted of filing false liens against federal officials, plus one count of harboring federal fugitives and being a felon in possession of firearms. He conspired with Kenneth Wayne Leaming, who has a record of depositing 1 million dollars in false promissory notes and operating an aircraft without a pilot’s license, as well as founding the County Rangers, an armed enforcement wing of the Sovereign Citizens.
  • Convicted sex offender David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman were arrested in Nevada for allegedly planning to kidnap, jail, torture and kill police officers. Brutsche said, “I will kill anyone that tries to stop the cause of liberty.” They planned to use acid and plastic bags to dispose of the officers’ bodies.
  • Christopher Lacy, a bipolar man from California, shot and killed a highway patrol officer at point blank range last fall. He was then shot and killed by another officer. The officer stopped him for having an obstructed license plate.
  • Phillip Monroe Ballard was in jail, awaiting trial for filing fraudulent tax returns. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Texas for attempting to have the federal judge in his case assassinated.
  • Lewis Pollard, a Navy veteran from Colorado, pointed a handgun at a police officer after a routine traffic stop and was then shot to death. On his Facebook page, Pollard stated, “I have renounced my citizenship to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA which is a corperation and clamed my individual rights as an american who upholds the freedom as an individual who lives under the laws of the constition the United States and as a free man I revoke all clames on me and my children grand children and great grand children so say I Lewis Be Pollard American living on the Colorado Republic near [81521-9998]”
  • David Russell Myrland of Washington state filed a civil suit accusing the government and its agents of using poor grammar and writing at a second-grade level. He has been illegally practicing law for 20 years, yet he still felt the need to get help with the suit from David Wynn Miller, who claims to have become the king of Hawaii in 1996 after turning the state’s name into a verb. He also believes that if he adds a hyphen and a colon to his name, he can escape the grasp of government taxation. Miller claims to have an IQ of 200.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who claim to be Sovereign Citizens in America. The members of the group have been classified as domestic terrorists by the FBI. Seven law enforcement officers have been killed by them since 2000.

Even Jerry Kane’s widow is nutty. For those of you getting this blog by e-mail, you can see the video here.