The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Georgia Supreme Court Message Loud and Clear: “Get Married, Stay Married”

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From sponsoring billboards and conferences, the message of the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Children, Marriage, and Family Law is loud and clear, “For Children’s Sake Get Married, Stay Married!” 

From the desk of the commission’s co-chairs – Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears and Justice P. Harris Hines – we discover in Georgia that “Every year, nearly three quarters of a million Georgians get divorced, and almost four out of every 10 babies in this state are born outside of marriage” (for full report click here). 

The ramifications of the family’s breakdown in Georgia alone are staggering.  A substantial body of research indicates that “when adults fail to build lasting, stable marriages, children suffer.”  How do the suffer?  Consider the following:

·         Children of divorced and of never-married parents suffer disproportionately from emotional and physical illness;

·         More of them drop out of school;

·         Fewer attend college;

·         They earn less income;

·         They develop more addictions to drugs and alcohol; and,

·         They are more likely to engage in violence or suffer it in their homes. 


Not only is this the case, but “a recent report on the taxpayer costs of divorce and unwed childbearing estimated that cost to taxpayers of family breakdown in Georgia exceeds nearly $1.46 billion a year.”

What do we gleam from this?  That the well-being of marriages determines the well-being of society (see Marriage: Its Foundational Importance, Marriage is Foundational for the Well-Being of Society, and Marriage is Foundational for the Furtherance of Society).

Not only does the wellbeing of marriage determine the well-being of society, the breakdown of marriages and families is impacting the judicial system of Georgia by accounting for 65% of all their civil cases, which outnumbers the combined total of misdemeanor and felony charges.

In spite of her own divorce after 20 years of marriage, Georgia Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears had this to say about their collective hopes for sponsoring billboards throughout the state with the message “Get Married, Stay Married”:

It’s our job to say to the legislature, and to the executive, ‘We see and notice this.’  We do more than just read cases. We see a lot of human devastation. It’s my job to speak out…It’s politically incorrect to say marriage has benefits…Let’s not be afraid to say marriage is a good thing (ABA Journal: Law News Now). 

In addition to these comments made to the Atlanta , Chief Justice Sears also remarked,

Society’s health, and our children’s health, is directly related to the health of our families…Our social science data shows that if marriage can be made more stable, if more fathers would stay involved, the benefits would be enormous for society (Fulton County Daily Report)

Although the Georgia Supreme Court Commission is receiving scorn from some detractors, they should be applauded for communicating that the well-being of marriage does in fact influence, for better or worse, the well-being of society.  Despite the break-up of families and the existence of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in marriages and families, this does not minimize the truth and force of the statements above.  The life that we live as individuals and families have either positive or negative affects upon every sphere of society.      

Since marriage has such a penetrating effect upon the entirety of society, it is to be understood that this institution is more than a private relationship between two people, but rather a public institution.  This is why the institution of marriage is to be publicly endorsed and supported, not demeaned and abandoned. 

Marriage is a pillar to the well-being of society and should be guarded with persistent diligence.  It is imperative that we succeed not only in protecting the definition of marriage and family, but we also need to see that marriages and families are strengthened and equipped to endure.  This has even been confirmed in a study conducted by 13 leading family scholars,

Marriage is an important social good, associated with an impressively broad array of positive outcomes for children and adults alike…Whether American society succeeds or fails in building a healthy marriage culture is clearly a matter of legitimate public concern (Can Government Strengthen Marriage)    

Since the impact of marriage and family stems beyond the personal realm and reaches far into the public and societal spheres, then our government should not attempt to redefine the historical understanding of marriage, but rather endorse, support, and enact policies that both protect it and strengthen it.

So thank you Chief Justice Sears for setting such an indelible example for the rest of us to follow in encouraging the well-being of marriages, children, America, and around the world.   


Food for Further Thought:

Georgia Supreme Court Commission Holds First Marriage Forum

Georgia Supreme Court Sponsors “Get Married, Stay Married” Billboards


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Family Policy Council of West Virginia





Written by Jesse Wisnewski

December 3, 2008 at 7:32 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] Our social science data shows that if marriage can be made more stable, if more fathers would stay involved, the benefits would be enormous for society (Fulton County Daily Report). Although the Georgia Supreme Court Commission is … Read more […]

  2. […] Georgia Supreme Court Message Loud and Clear: “Get Married, Stay Married”  […]

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