Legislators and Family Values1
by Steven Wisensale
University of Connecticut
Assume that you are a member of the legislature in the nation of Atlantica. For the upcoming legislative session a “family policy package” has been proposed and you will be required to vote on each of its components. The proposed bills are listed below. Based on your personal values and beliefs, how would you vote on each of these measures? Write “yes” or “no” after the proposal and circle it.
1. Prior to marriage all couples must successfully complete an accredited/government-approved, six-hour, pre-marriage counseling course. The couples cover the cost.
2. Prior to being granted a divorce in which children are involved, all couples must complete a four-hour divorce education program. The cost per parent will be $100.
3. A child allowance of $1,000 per child per year for 17 years shall be paid to each family regardless of income.
4. Infirmaries at universities supported by public funds should be permitted to perform abortions if students request them and the university chooses to perform them.
5. Minors should be able to get abortions without asking their parents permission or notifying them.
6. A married woman can get an abortion only if her husband gives permission.
7. Corporal punishment will be illegal both at home and in school. Therefore, neither parents not teachers can strike a child for any reason. Fines or imprisonment could result. Children will be educated on how to call the “child abuse hotline”.
8. Children should be permitted to sue their parents for divorce and may request that the court appoint a lawyer for them to do so.
9. Same-sex couples should be permitted to adopt children.
10. Atlantica should pass its version of the Defense of Marriage Act. Thus, same-sex couples who marry in other states will not be recognized as married in Atlantica.
11. Atlantica should adopt a Civil Union law in which same-sex couples cannot marry in the traditional sense but can declare their union a “domestic partnership” and, therefore, receive essentially the identical benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
12. Civil Union ceremonies for same-sex couples should be permitted in chapels on university campuses that are supported by public funds.
13. Any person who is declared delinquent on child support payments must surrender his or her driver’s license until the outstanding debt in erased.
This exercise can be confined to one class session as a means for generating discussion or it can be expanded to a major assignment in which students assume roles of legislators and actually vote on each of the 13 issues.