For a state Legislature that routinely claims it wants to shrink the role of government, a bill creating covenant marriages is an odd excursion.
The bill, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, will soon go to the full Senate. It gives couples the option of a marriage that requires pre-marital counseling and erects barriers to divorce.
“My concern was, why do we have to legislate this issue?” said Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, a dissenting vote in committee.
The bill is not of great importance. It was copied from a Louisiana law that almost no one uses.
It is a symbol, though, of how completely the Legislature has abandoned its expressed goal of reducing the role of government.
Many of the legislators owe their positions to a wave of anti-governmental fervor that peaked in 2010. They were the beneficiaries of a population that resented the size and scope of federal government.
Since 2010, however, the state has demonstrated its ability to be even more intrusive than the federal government. From immigration to women’s health to education to voting rights, it has added layers of government rather than subtracting them.
Even as it has found novel ways to increase the pervasiveness of state government, it has done little to maintain conventional government functions. The roads still need paving, the jails are overcrowded and the safety net for the state’s most desperate citizens is threadbare.
The Legislature seems convinced it can solve every problem, except for those it was elected to solve.