If gay marriage is here, can gay divorce be far behind?
Fifty years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead proposed that, with rising breakup rates, marriage be divided into two kinds: for the childless, a legal union easily dissolved (a “practice” or “student” marriage) followed by a renewed set of vows after children to bind couples more tightly to their responsibility as parents.
Since then, couples living together without paperwork, both straight and gay, have more or less put the first half of Mead’s proposal into practice but no-fault divorce laws have failed to protect both parents and children from the financial and emotional savagery of state divorce statutes.
With same-sex marriage on the brink of acceptance, millions more will eventually find themselves not in the idealized Currier & Ives print they envision when taking their vows but a legal morass that can curdle love into conflict, pain and often financial ruin.
As American society takes an enormous leap forward into the future for a basic institution, would it be too much to ask for rethinking its failures of the past?
Homophobia is not the only prejudice to be overcome.