February 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Senators Want To Warn Couples Of Hazards In Marriage The Measure, Sponsored Mostly By Women, Would Revise Wording Of Marriage Licenses

Hal Spencer Associated Press

Marriage may be hazardous to your health, and it’s time Washington’s blissful betrothed be so informed when they apply for a marriage license, some state senators say.

The handful of senators, mostly women, are proposing a measure to revise the wording of marriage licenses. The licenses would inform couples that, among other things, “Neither you nor your spouse is the property of the other,” and “The laws of this state affirm your right to enter into this marriage and at the same time to live within the marriage free from violence and abuse.”

Domestic violence continues to be a leading cause of death and injury for American women, sponsors say, and more public education may help to reduce it.

“I would say, simply, beware. Stop, look, listen and be cautious,” said Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Seattle, one of the co-sponsors. The bill, SB5124, is sponsored by Sen. Lorraine Wojahn, D-Tacoma, who could not be reached Wednesday.

“Marriage is serious business,” Prentice said. “It affects more than just the couple. It affects their children and society at large” when courts have to take children away or prosecute abuse cases.

Prentice said she has been married 37 years and knows of what she speaks.

“The idea that a marriage is simply that this is going to be romantic for the rest of your life is simply delusion. Marriage is hard work, and still too many people don’t understand this,” she said.

Prentice said too many still consider their spouses to be their property.

“The origin of the wedding ring represents part of a chain binding the wife to her master,” she said.

“We need to start turning this attitude around, and telling people marriage does not confer a property right is a small step,” she said.

The proposed measure would revise marriage licenses to also say, “The laws against physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and battery and assault, as well as other provisions of the criminal laws of this state, are applicable to spouses and other family members, and violations of these laws are punishable by either fine or imprisonment, or both.”

The bill is scheduled for a hearing today before the Senate Health Committee, where it was referred.

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