Bill: Spouses not property

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. Attention, marriage-license applicants: The union may be hazardous to your health.

That's the message some state lawmakers, mostly women, want in a proposed revision of the wording of marriage licenses.

''Neither you nor your spouse is the property of the other,'' the licenses would say, and ''The laws of this state affirm your right to enter into this marriage and at the same time to live within the marriage free from violence and abuse.''

They also would say that the laws against abuse and assault are applicable to spouses and other family members.

Domestic violence continues to be a leading cause of death and injury for American women, and more public education may help to reduce it, sponsors of the measure said.

''I would say, simply, beware. Stop, look, listen and be cautious,'' said Sen. Margarita Prentice, a co-sponsor.

''Marriage is serious business,'' said Prentice, who has been married for 37 years. ''It affects more than just the couple. It affects their children and society at large.''

Prentice said too many people still consider their spouses to be their property. ''The origin of the wedding ring represents part of a chain binding the wife to her master,'' she said.

''We need to start turning this attitude around, and telling people marriage does not confer a property right is a small step.''

The bill was scheduled for a committee hearing yesterday.

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