BETTER BEGINNINGS : FEWER ENDINGS
VOTE YES ON SB 24
In 1999 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 6,200 marriages
take place every day in the United States. The bureau also
reported that 3,100 divorces occur every day. In fact, the
current divorce rate is now inching its way up . . . 6 of 10
marriages may be heading toward divorce.
But the good news is that several states have seen and
experienced enough. Florida, Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, Utah,
Maryland and Minnesota, among others, have either introduced or
passed bills to encourage pre-marital education, including
relationship skills facilitated either by a licensed mental health
professional or religious instructor or their designate to help
couples confront the major causes of divorce, such as conflicts,
communications and commitment to each other.
In a society where commitment has lost its meaning and appeal,
pre-marital education focuses on the single most powerful vow a
couple can make ? commitment to their marriage, commitment to their
children and commitment to their community. Research has
shown that (1) today�s couples have no good role models: one
quarter of the adult population of marriageable age is a child of
divorce and (2) the difference between successful couples and
unsuccessful couples is how they handle their conflicts and those
skills can be taught.
Illinois now has a chance to make a difference. Senate
Bill 24, Illinois� proposal for pre-marital education, previously
defeated on the Senate floor, will once again come up for Senate
vote in April, 2001. This bill is being introduced by State
Senator John Cullerton and is supported by many divorce attorneys,
mental health practitioners and clergymen. We are asking
legislators to pass this bill for the sake of Illinois� young
Our "Think Tank" has met over 15 times in the past three years,
and we believe pre-marital education could help reduce divorces by
as much as 30% -- that could translate to as many as 200 divorces
weekly in Illinois. That�s thousands of marriages that need
not be torn apart financially or their children subjected to
hurtful custody battles.
Illinois has already made a public commitment to support and
strengthen marriage. This bill can help couples fulfill that
commitment. Please vote "yes" on SB 24.
Gemma B. Allen
Ronald S. Ladden
Ladden & Allen,
Advisory Committee in Formation:
1. Doug Delaney
Catholic Conference of Illinois
2. Amy Desai, J.D.
Focus on the Family
3. Robert Downs, J.D.
4. Robert Galatzer-Levy, M.D.
5. Marion Holtzer, MSW
6. Very Rev. Gary Sinclair
7. Patricia McMahon, Psy.D
8. Virginia Nurmi
Illinois Family Institute
9. Alan Ravitz, M.D.
10. Kenneth Connor
Family Research Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 21, 2001
Toby Trimmer: 217/782-0566
SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES CULLERTON�S LEGISLATION
TO EDUCATE BEFORE MARRIAGE
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois ? With more than 40,000 marriages ending
in divorce every year in Illinois, State Senator John Cullerton
(D-Chicago) has decided to do something about it. On Tuesday,
the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 24, Cullerton�s
measure encouraging engaged couples to seek pre-marital
Under Cullerton�s legislation, marriage licenses would be
provided to couples upon verification that they have participated
in at least four hours of pre-marital education from religious
officials or behavioral health professionals. Though statistics
have proven that the education is highly beneficial in
strengthening marriages, the measure allows couples who do not wish
to seek the services to obtain a marriage license after a 60 day
"In Illinois, 47% of all marriages eventually end in divorce,"
Cullerton said. "The cost to spouses, to their children and
their families is enormous. But there is extremely credible
evidence that shows us that couples who participate in just a few
hours of education before they exchange their vows tend to stay
together at higher rates."
Gemma Allen, a Chicago Divorce Attorney who founded a think tank
on Illinois marriage and divorce initiatives and researched similar
legislation in states throughout the nation, encouraged Cullerton
to introduce the bill. Allen said that pre-marital education
works by teaching much-needed techniques in the skill of resolving
"It�s my experience that many couples simply don�t know how to
communicate their frustrations, concerns and difficulties with
their spouse," Allen said. "As a result, this lack of
communication boils over time and the relationship ends. But
we know that there are simple skills that two people in love can
and will learn, provided they have the resources and encouragement
to do so."
Cullerton�s measure also has the support of the Catholic
Conference. Donna Dausman, the Director of the Office of
Family and Youth Ministry for the Springfield Diocese said that the
legislation keeps the best interests of families and children in
"Strong families and strong marriages are the cornerstone of our
society," Dausman said. "Marriage preparation assists in
helping those strong marriages and is in the best interests of
these couples and, most importantly, the children of these
couples. This legislation advances our goals to encourage
lasting marriages in Illinois."
The Illinois Family Institute, an affiliate of the
Colorado-based "Focus on the Family" is also in strong support of
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