A Kansas House panel began the first of two days of hearings on the subject of marriage Wednesday morning.
Rep. Steve Brunk, a Wichita Republican and chairman of the Committee on Federal and State Affairs, explained his goal was to investigate “the decline of the institution of marriage over the last number of decades,” which he argued had led to a “degeneration of the culture.” He said that there was no bill before the committee, but the hope was to decide whether the state had a role in preventing divorce.
Some members of the committee, such as Rep. Stephanie Clayton, an Overland Park Republican, questioned whether two days of hearings on marriage was a good use of taxpayer money. Clayton said that as a taxpayer she opposed the hearing, but as a lawmaker she would give the matter fair consideration.
Rep. Mike Houser, a Columbus Republican, joked that he had been married twice and would learn what he did wrong.
House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, a Louisburg Republican, defended Brunk’s decision to hold hearings on marriage, saying that there is nothing more important than the family.
The hearing began with testimony from Glenn Stanton, a director of family formation studies for Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based evangelical organization that promotes social conservative policies and traditional gender roles.
Stanton testified that married people are on average healthier, wealthier and happier. He also said that children being raised by married parents have greater well-being than those being raised by divorced parents.
He said having married parents is a child’s best protection against poverty.
Sherdeill Breathett, a Wichita resident, submitted written testimony that said he came from a broken home, which scarred him and his siblings. “The fourth floor at the Sedgwick County Court House is a zoo on some occasions,” Breathett said, referring to the floor where divorce cases are heard.
He suggested that the state provide pre-marital classes and post-marriage checkups to prevent divorce.
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