It was a Southern Maine outdoor venue, and everything went perfectly. The ceremony solemnized their love, and two families were brought together. Everyone in attendance was happy… and the state of Maine was very happy too.
You see, instead of sending a note of congratulations, the state of Maine sent an invoice — demanding payment for the privilege of falling in love. My brother was required to pay $40.00 for the states permission to get married.
Every year approximately 2.3 million couples get married in the United States. A marriage license costs between $10 and $115 depending on state and county. That means a national average cost of $55 per couple. In total, that is a transfer of approximately $126 Million from the pockets of hardworking Americans to government agencies.
We are all in favor of whole and functional families.
The data is important here:
Unmarried men have a 250% higher mortality rate, unmarried people spend twice as much time in hospitals as married people. Children in married homes have higher GPA’s, are less likely to be incarcerated, and have higher paying jobs compared to their peers.
For the couples who throw massive weddings, that $55 dollars may not be much — but for young couples who took a non traditional path and had children before they got married, or for those who fell in love but have the financial burden of taking care of an elderly parent — that is a significant cost.
For the most vulnerable among us, the choice is between paying for a marriage license, getting all the good that marriage can bring, and buying diapers.
In Maine, this problem is especially pronounced- as almost 40% of infants and toddlers are living in poverty.
We know that marriage promotes healthier households, but for the most vulnerable among us, the choice is between paying for a marriage license, and buying diapers.
As fees have risen in the last ten years, rates of marriage have dropped. While correlation does not guarantee causation, this cost is another barrier to those who need and want stability the most. To invest in our children, we should eliminate the barriers to strong and healthy homes.
This is partially about financial burden, but it is also about health. The health of couples, children, the health of our country and the cultural costs we bear for those who grow up without the benefits of a married household.
We don’t need another government program putting up billboards about “how to be a dad today,” we need government to get out of the way of happy and healthy relationships. My brother and his bride gain nothing from added bureaucracy, and neither do the millions of loving couples who are the cornerstone of this nation’s future.
We should eliminate the licensing of marriage entirely.
It is vitally important for our families, for our children, and for our country that we remove the financial barriers to marriage- because love, shouldn’t cost a thing.