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Campaign set on sanctity of marriage

The value and sanctity of marriage will be targeted in an upcoming campaign led by the Governor's Commission on Marriage.

"Utah is the first state to have a commission on marriage," said Brent Barlow, commission chairman, at a Wednesday meeting held at the Utah State Office Building.Premarital, marital and re-marital scenarios will all be addressed in the campaign, according to Abbie Vianes, commission director.

Billboards, slogans, media and public speakers were discussed as vehicles to get the word out -- marriage is important.

Religious leaders were invited to the meeting to offer input on how to strengthen marriage in Utah. Government and community leaders offered suggestions at the meeting as well. Leaders discussed already-established events and existing marriage-related programs that could help members of the community.

Debra and Harry Bonner were honored as "Family of the Year" in Nevada just before they moved to Utah in 1996. Harry Bonner is now a member of the Governor's Commission on Marriage. Debra Bonner, who represented her husband at the meeting, offered to write a song for the campaign dedicated to marriage.

The commission has also dedicated Sept. 25 through Oct. 2 as Marriage Awareness Week. An opening kick-off for the week is planned for Sept. 24 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Workshops, dinner and dancing, along with 14 workshops will be featured at the event. Topics on stepfamilies and intercultural marriages will also be discussed at some of the workshops.

"Marriage Marathon" was set up by the group to acknowledge long-life marriages. So far, the commission is aware of 50 Utah couples that have been married 70 years or longer.

A proclamation on marriage will be written and signed by Gov. Mike Leavitt in time for Marriage Awareness Week in the fall.