The Coalition for Government in the West stands behind Utah Conservatives in supporting the natural family as the basic unit of society, and we maintain that children are entitled to growing up in a home with both a mother and a father. Traditional marriage is something that government leaders should work carefully to protect. In Utah and around the West, family issues are of primary importance. We believe marriage between one man and one woman should be respected and valued and that every family should seek strong intergenerational relationships. Part of supporting the traditional family in Utah is making the correct political decisions that let government defer authority to fit parents in the name of personal responsibility and self-governance.
The federal government has an important role in organizing our great nation, but we strongly believe that Utah family issues and marriages should be left to state lawmakers instead of national politicians. The reason is simple: the U.S. Constitution does not give the federal government power to interfere with state regulation in marriage. True Utah conservatism and a commitment to federalism must mean holding strong to traditional marriage and natural families, regardless of what East Coast pundits, activist judges or liberal politicians believe.
One way that Utahns can protect families and the covenant of marriage is to do away with no-fault divorces, which make it too easy to dissolve marriages on a whim. We believe this option weakens the institution of marriage and exposes both adults and their children to a number of problems. For divorced adults, increased poverty and lower standards of living are all too common, and reported rates of life satisfaction are lower.
The welfare of children in quick, no-fault divorce cases is also a primary concern for The Coalition for Government in the West and the Sutherland Institute. Academic research has shown that children from divorced families are more likely to bully or be bullied by their peers, suggesting that these kids have both increased aggression and, simultaneously, too few adults to talk with in their daily lives. These children, on average, also become more vulnerable to drug use, child abuse, physical and psychological illness, crime, suicide, poverty and academic failure.
Believers in no-fault divorces claim that if Utah were to get rid of this option, men and women would be unable to leave troubling and detrimental relationships. However, we can see that the state could end no-fault divorce while still allowing men and women in troubled marriages to divorce as a last resort. No longer could simple "irreconcilable differences" be used as a reason to end marriage. However, men and women in the most problematic marriages could cite from a veritable laundry list of issues as grounds for divorce. They include: abuse, impotence, adultery, willful desertion or neglect, habitual drunkenness, incurable insanity and felony conviction.
It's clear that fortifying marriage is in our nation's best interest, and it should be top of mind for lawmakers. For the sake of Utah families, we cannot afford to radically redefine the institution of marriage as an easy-in, easy-out proposition that can come and go on the whims of selfish individuals.
We can also address Utah family issues by turning to our religious heritage. Like the family, church organizations are civic cornerstones that are a vital to building a successful, prosperous community. Without religious organizations, we are like a collection of frenzied atoms crashing into one another, but never working together. Without these community institutions, self-government is nearly impossible.
This brings to mind our commitment to the Constitution, including the First Amendment protections for religious freedom. However, religious freedom should not mean a complete separation of morality from governance. Instead, we can turn to principles learned from religion to shape our personal moral and political choices, including those about traditional marriage and no-fault divorce. We are rightly free from religious coercion, but should never be free from its influence in our community and our lives.