This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah brides- and grooms-to-be would need to chose between a marriage-training course or a $20 fee under a bill that earned preliminary Senate approval on Friday.
Senators voted 17-12 in favor of SB29, which raises the cost of marriage licenses by $20 while offering a corresponding $20 rebate to couples who complete premarital counseling.
For couples who forgo counseling, the money collected by the additional license fee would be used to fund state efforts to promote marriage and family health.
"Utah has a vested interest in establishing strong marital relations and a huge cost when they break down and fail," said bill sponsor Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.
Despite the relatively narrow vote, debate on the bill was minimal.
Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, noted that the bill does not differentiate between opposite- and same-gender couples. And while the counseling could be completed through religious channels, he said, Utahns would be free to work with secular providers.
"By and large, anything we can do to support marriage is a good thing," Anderegg said.
Christensen said the bill is intended to "promote wise choices," and incentivize strong marriages.
"We made it just as simple as possible," he said. "Even a free online class is available for those who wish to do it."
The bill requires an additional successful vote before advancing to the Utah House.