The Republic of T.

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Heteros Next on Fundies’ Hit List

I realize I’m running behind on the news. Having been work-related retreat for four days, and then catching up with the family upon my return left little time for blogging about much. But there are several marriage-related items that have flitted across my radar, and now seems like as good a time as any to catch up on them. What it boils down to is this: the religious right, having pretty much run out of steam on the gay marriage issues, is coming for heterosexuals next.

The married ones, that is. I don’t know what kind of twisted logic makes people work overtime to make sure that gay couples who want to be married can’t, and heterosexual couples have to stay married even if they don’t want to be married anymore, but that’s what they’re working on. And, of course, it’s in Virginia.

After its victory in last year’s fight over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Family Foundation of Virginia announced Thursday that it will push to change the state’s divorce laws to make it more difficult for parents to end their marriage.

The Family Foundation, which opposes abortion and promotes socially conservative values, said it will lobby the General Assembly this year to amend the state’s long-standing no-fault divorce law, which essentially allows a husband or wife to terminate a marriage without cause.

The foundation is advocating “mutual consent divorce” for couples with children, which would require a husband and wife to agree to divorce before a marriage can be legally terminated, except in certain instances, such as abuse or cruelty. The proposed legislation would not affect childless couples.

“Right now, one spouse can unilaterally end [the marriage], and not only is their spouse unable to stop the divorce, their abandonment does not preclude them from having custody of their child,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation. “When we send a message that one can up and leave their family and have no consequence, the Old Dominion is encouraging divorce.”

Maybe I’m wrong (and I’m sure the Family Foundation would say that i am), but my experience is that if the relationship is over for one partner, it’s over, even if the other half of the couple doesn’t want it to be over. At least they’re making allowances for “abuse or cruelty,” so a battered spouse might be able to get a divorce even if the battering spouse opposes it.

As for the children, I suppose their theory is that children suffer more in a divorce than they do unhappy parents. And I suppose it doesn’t matter that the evidence doesn’t actually support that. As Stephanie Koontz points out in Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage:

…children in high-conflict marriage are often better off if they’re parents divorce than if they stay together. Children also suffer when exposed to constant and chronic low-level friction in a marriage, such as parents not talking to each other, being critical or moody, exhibiting jealousy, or being domineering.

A well functioning, continuously happily married two-parent family provides an optimal environment for children. But a well functioning marriage with two cooperating parents is not always what you get. When it’s not, divorce can be an escape hatch for the children as well as the adults. …it actually improves the well-being of 40 to 45 percent. It is not very helpful to give people hard-and-fast personal advice, far less to pass sweeping laws…

Of course, there also the reality that in some cases, kids who develop behavioral problems after a divorce got a head start on those problems while living in the middle of their parents’ “war zone” of a marriage. And that’s assuming, however, the happiness of any of the parties involved is the point, in the first place, when it really may just be that H.L. Mencken was right when he defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.”

One wonders if, under the Virginia law, a cuckolded or otherwise betrayed spouse would have ground for divorce, even if the cheating spouse didn’t agree to it. (Does an affair count as cruelty?) Combine Virginia’s proposed law with recent events in Michigan, and you might not be able to divorce a cheating spouse, but you could put the adulterer away for life.

In a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan’s second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

“We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today,” Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel, “but we are curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion.”

“Technically,” he added, “any time a person engages in sexual penetration in an adulterous relationship, he or she is guilty of CSC I,” the most serious sexual assault charge in Michigan’s criminal code.

No one expects prosecutors to declare open season on cheating spouses. The ruling is especially awkward for Attorney General Mike Cox, whose office triggered it by successfully appealing a lower court’s decision to drop CSC charges against a Charlevoix defendant. In November 2005, Cox confessed to an adulterous relationship.

I don’t expect they will declare open seasons on cheating spouses. Not heterosexuals anyway. But I fully expect that the law, and this particular application of it, will be used against a gay or lesbian person if at all possible. Because as heterosexuals might be next on the right wing’s hit list, but we’re still in their sites, and if they think they have a shot at us, they’ll take it.

Think about it. A married man or woman has an affair with someone of the same-sex. The affair, being adultery, is a felony. The sexual activity of the adulterous pair thus amounts to criminal sexual conduct. Which means that two men or women can be arrested and imprisoned for having sex with each other. And if they can be, they will be eventually. And if you define adultery as “sexual intercourse between individuals who aren’t married to each other,” then the law is definitely applicable to same-sex couples, even if neither of them is married to anyone else, because they can’t be married to each other.

(Note, this doesn’t quite add up to outlawing sodomy, since the acts themselves can still be legally performed by any married — thus, by definition, heterosexual — couple. And we’ve already established that heterosexuals have anal sex too.)

We can’t be married, but we can still be divorced.

A gay couple may have been mistaken in thinking they were legally married, but they still have to honor the terms of their separation agreement, which is the equivalent of any other type of contract, a judge in New York City has ruled.

The couple, Steven Green, 41, a real estate developer, and David Gonzalez, 29, now a lawyer but a student at the time they met, began living together in 2001, a decision last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan indicated.

They shared Mr. Green’s house in Westchester County and a pied-à-terre on Central Park South, according to the court papers and to Mr. Green, who responded to questions about the case by e-mail. Mr. Green, who said he also owns a home on Nantucket, produces independent films and runs “a small charter airline,” was the wealthier of the two men, and showered his partner with gifts, including a ski house and two cars, according to court papers.

Welcome to the world ordered as the religious right would apparently have it. Put it all together and this is what you get: heterosexuals can get married but not divorced, gay people can get divorced but not married, but heterosexuals who stray and gay people who have sex at all are criminals.

Basically, they get two fornicators for the price of one. And nobody’s happy.

9 Comments

  1. That “staying together for the children” thing is such bollocks. My parents divorced when I was 29, after my youngest sister left home, and it still hurt like hell. Putting it off doesn’t make that part any easier.

  2. “When we send a message that one can up and leave their family and have no consequence, the Old Dominion is encouraging divorce.”

    No consequence? Do they really think there are no consequences? I can’t imaging a situation where one parent abandoning their family leads to no consequence. Such a thing brings pain and damage to all involved, including the one who left. We don’t need the religious right to make up artificial consequences in a situation like that. The world is crumbling for all involved.

    It seems to me that this shows an enormous lack of faith in their god. Creating consequences through laws to punish those they see as less moral than they are, because otherwise those sinners might “get away with it” demonstrates an incredible arrogance on their behalf. Do they seem to think they better act quick because God isn’t doing anything? Or won’t? If they believe so strongly in this god of theirs, do they think He’s too weak to handle it Himself?

    I wish they would focus on something else. Can’t they get behind something like domestic abuse? Poverty? Something besides this desire to create a Stepford utopia? Creeps me out and pisses me off, that’s what it does.

  3. For children in “high-conflict” marriages that might be true. What about those from “low-conflict” marriages situations? I’ve heard of some studies (that I can’t reference them at the moment) that in some cases “for the kids” may be a rational reason to stay together.

    I often wonder how I might be different if my parents stayed married. There was, as far as I know, no fighting and it wasn’t a “high-conflict” situation. In fact my parents stayed close friends, until my Dad’s re-marriage, in part due to my post-divorce behavior.

  4. Well, like the quote from the book points out, it’s different for everyone. Even in a “low-conflict” situation, it’s possible children may be negatively affected by parents who are in an unhappy marriage, even if they’re not screaming and throwing things. It may be a loveless marriage in which the parents are cold and little more than civil to each other.

    My experience is that children pick up on even they’re parents’ unspoken emotions, and respond to them. And if it’s not explained to them, they may assume their parents’ unhappiness is somehow due to them. (Particularly if the parents are obviously unhappy, but staying together “for the kids.”)

    Some kids, though, may be unaffected by it all. That’s the point. Each circumstance is different, because of the individuals involved. That’s why making hard, fast rules and trying to apply to to everyone in every situation. Which is what the wingers are trying to do.

  5. Matthew 5:32 “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

    That wasn’t said by paul or peter or some unknown desert freak in leviticus, the big JC, Jesus himself called divorce an abomination.

    JC says nothing about homosexuality or abortion, but he’s pretty clear on divorce, that and his 10,000 direct orders to help the poor.

    I wonder. How many politicians supported by evangelicals are divoced? Aren’t the majority of them committing adultery and destined for hell?

    Or is it that the bible is only a tool for hatred to these charlatans? Why do folowers of a prophet who preached against wealth and personal property wear such expensive suits?

    Corinthians 2:17 “For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit”

  6. The experience of teaching the parables to preschoolers is something that stays with you. One of the lessons I distinctly remember is Jesus telling his listeners that it isn’t their job to separate the wheat from the chaff — it’s God’s job, and no one else’s, to punish sinners.

    Strangely enough, that is the one Bible passage that Christian fundamentalists never seem to quote.

  7. Hey asshole

    Getting married is FOREVER, or at LEAST thats what BOTH people say. Now, unless your fucking word ain’t worth SHIT, then who the fuck CARES WHAT and WHO the fuck you want to get fucked in the ass with…..I don’t and neither should anyone else. BUT, if you WANT to get married SO FUCKING MUCH, than its SUPPOSED TO BE FOR FUCKING EVER, its pretty simple , GET IT? But, I guess if you WANT to break a promise, meaning you AINT WORTH SHIT AS A HUMAN BEING, and you can give a rats ASS about turning someone ELSES life around by BREAKING that promise, EVEN IF HE OR SHE DOESN’T WANT TO HAVE HIS OR HER LIFE fucked around with, (and ain’t that the main fucking thing in YOUR arguement, “as long as you don’t hurt someone else…..” or is that ANOTHER BULLSHIT LINE……….

    Its pretty fucking simple asshole. If you aren’t gonna stick it out, FOR FUCKING EVER, DON’T GET FUCKING MARRIED….live, suck, fuck,eat do WHAT THE FUCK it is you FUCKING WANT, but DO NOT GET MARRIED. Do getting “TAX BREAKS” mean so fucking much to you that you are gonna break your word, your promise???? Just because the fucking breeders can’t get it right, and THEIR fucking word don’t mean SHIT to them and they thinks its ok to split when things are peachy for them, I guess you think its ok then……Youre fucking weak………real weak.

  8. Oh yeah

    And Obama is a cheap, empty suit. But I guess its important to you to have a suit of a different color now, isn’t it……………

  9. One hopes that Nick does not have a wife yoked to him for life with that enormous anger problem, much less children who would be subjected to that sort of senselss fury all the time.

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