No shortage of bills on family issues

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nebraska lawmakers have wasted no time in presenting bills addressing family issues.

One, LB 554, would require parents considering divorce to complete mediation before going to court. "Sometimes in divorce situations, kids are treated like chattel, like the dishwasher or the retirement account," said Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, who also is an attorney who sometimes handles divorce cases.

Another, LB 696, introduced by Mark Christensen of Imperial, would require couples who haven't taken an eight-hour premarriage class to pay $100 and wait 30 days before getting a license and getting married. Those who took the class on conflict management, communication skills, financial responsibility and parenting skills could get a license for $15 and have no waiting period.

One has to wonder what affect stiffer marriage requirements might have in a country where four out of 10 children are born to an unmarried woman. Is this really a good time to make marriage less inviting?

But another bill sure to raise controversy is LB 571, which would allow two people who are not married to adopt a child. While sponsor Lowen Kruse points to situations such as an uncle who wants to adopt the children of his widower brother to create a clear line of responsibility in case the father dies, that's not the point that will draw attention.

Supported by ACLU Nebraska, the bill also would allow unmarried heterosexual or homosexual couples to adopt a child, giving them access to Social Security benefits and health insurance.

In a state where voters strongly support traditional marriage, LB 571 is fighting an uphill battle.

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