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Monday, November 24, 2008

Georgia Supreme Court Promotes Marriage to Fight Crime

A dozen billboards around the state that urge Georgians to "Get Married, Stay Married" are sponsored not by a church or family-values group but by the Supreme Court of Georgia through its Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law.

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears said that the 48-foot-wide, 14-foot-tall billboards are one of the few things a jurist can do to battle high crime rates, high divorce rates and low numbers of fathers raising their kids.

Along with the "Get Married, Stay Married" slogan, each sign shows a happy-looking mother, father and child and one of two messages: "Children do better with parents together" or "For Children's Sake."

"We paid $50,000 to get about $500,000 worth of billboard space to send this vital message," Sears said, noting that the costs of the billboards themselves were paid by the Georgia Bar Foundation and "not state money." The billboard space was donated by the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia, which donates unused billboard space to charitable, civic and governmental organizations.

Sears' comments came in an interview last week at a more substantive part of her crusade -- a two-day conference on marriage for about 250 lawyers, social workers, clergy people and therapists. The event was sponsored by the high court's commission and the New York-based Institute for American Values, which calls itself a "private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that contributes intellectually to strengthening families and civil society in the U.S. and the world."

Sears said the summit was the first event of its kind sponsored by the Georgia high court.

The costs were borne by private foundations, "with very little state money," she added, although she did not specify how much. Participants paid fees to attend, and the Institute for American Values paid speakers' honoraria and transportation costs.

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2008/11/georgia-supreme.html

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