Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and his wife will be among hundreds of other couples from his state who will renew their wedding vows during a mass "Covenant Marriage" ceremony on Valentine's Day in Little Rock.

On February 14, 2005, Mike and Janet Huckabee -- parents of three grown children and married for 30 years -- will take advantage of the Covenant Marriage Act of 2001, which created an option for couples like the Huckabees. That legislation established "covenant marriages" in the Natural State -- which, according to the governor's website, consistently has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

In an attempt to draw down that incidence of divorce, the state enacted the Covenant Marriage Act, which demands a deeper commitment from those entering marriage. Couples entering into a covenant marriage are required to agree to premarital counseling and a two-year "cooling off" period before a divorce can be granted (exceptions are provided in of abuse, abandonment, or adultery).

But couples who are already married, like the Huckabees, are also permitted to convert their regular marriage license to a covenant marriage. The governor is optimistic about the Little Rock event in which he and his wife will participate.

"We hope that by this event -- which will focus on the celebration of marriage [and will bring] couples literally from all 75 counties of the state -- we're going to be able to not only remind pastors to encourage people who are getting married to consider the covenant marriage option, but also [to encourage] people who have been married to consider another option within the law," Huckabee says, "and that is, converting their marriage."

Huckabee announced the upcoming event in recent appearances around the state with Dennis Rainey of FamilyLife, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ. The governor explains why the government has an interest in strong marriages.

"We know all too well the tremendous pain that people experience when the breakup of marriage happens," Huckabee says. "But there's also an enormous economic impact to the state. We have agencies that essentially are created for one purpose -- and that is, to pick up the pieces of broken marriages."

More than 600 couples have chosen the covenant marriage license since it became law three years ago. Huckabee and Rainey say they are hoping to get at least 1,000 married couples to gather on Valentine's Day at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock who have already or who are willing to convert their regular marriage license to a covenant marriage.

FamilyLife (http://www.familylife.com)

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