Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gay Divorce

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, acceptance of same-sex marriage is now a fact of life but, amid so much furor pro and con, a social change that deserves consideration in context of what has been happening to American families since World War II.

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.


Norm said...

What solution do you propose? It seems ending no-fault divorce would require even more expensive legal wrangling in forcing spouses prove infidelity or the breaking of marriage vows in court.

The major social change that has contributed the most to divorce isn't no-fault divorce, but rather women's ability to work, vote, and own property without male chaperons.

Unfortunately, gay divorce is already here. However, if the Court does not find a 50-state solution, gay and lesbian couples who happen to live outside of their marriage state will face more expensive legal obstacles than straight couples.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robert, missing your dot connecting, hope you're ok.