Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it.
July 25, 2008 8:11 AM   Subscribe

What's tougher to get than a same-sex marriage? A same-sex divorce.

Legal questions abound in same-sex alimony and child custody suits
Similar problems for interracial couples:
Many an interracial couple managed to avoid attracting the attention of local police only to find their marriages challenged in other court proceedings--in divorce and annulment cases, for example, in pension disputes, and especially, and repeatedly, in inheritance cases.
posted by anotherpanacea (32 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'll get the obvious pun out of the way.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:13 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I seem to remember a similar issue when it became legal in Canada.
posted by vernondalhart at 8:14 AM on July 25, 2008

Homosexuals are destroying the traditional institution of divorce. Also the traditional institutions of fighting over custody and being a dead-beat former spouse.
posted by DU at 8:17 AM on July 25, 2008 [6 favorites]

Marriage just seems outdated to me.
posted by plexi at 8:22 AM on July 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

"[They] hopped in the car and raced across the border into Massachusetts. Then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, had already ordered some Massachusetts cities to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples who lived outside the state..."

Last week: Massachusetts Senate Passes Repeal of 1913 Marriage Law
"The Massachusetts Senate today passed a bill that would repeal a 1913 state law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying in Massachusetts.

The bill, which had the support of Senate President Therese Murray, passed with no objections on a voice vote. Proponents of the repeal called the 1913 law archaic and discriminatory.

...The law originated when lawmakers in many states were trying to prevent interracial couples from crossing state lines to marry. It fell into obscurity for decades. But it received new attention in 2004, when Republican Governor Mitt Romney invoked it after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts to prevent out-of-state gay and lesbian couples from marrying here and forcing their home states to consider recognizing Massachusetts marriage law."
Last night: Massachusetts House Approves Second Reading of 1913 Law Repeal
"The House gave initial approval to a bill repealing a 1913 law that prohibits out-of-state couples from getting married in Massachusetts if their home state does not recognize the union. The state has used this law, upheld in 2004 by the Supreme Judicial Court, to prevent many out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts. The measure has already been approved by the Senate. Additional House and Senate approval are necessary prior to the proposal going to the governor."
posted by ericb at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2008

Ironically, the people who are said to be ruining the institution of marriage are forced to uphold it better than their accusers.

What a crazy world.
posted by splice at 8:49 AM on July 25, 2008

I legally married my partner of 13 years the other day at City Hall here in San Francisco. Since we had a really beautiful but illegal ceremony and celebration with all our friends and family five years ago, we already felt married, and I think we were both looking at getting our license as a formality, sort of like going down to the DMV. But the scene at City Hall was deeply touching, as many same-sex couples who had obviously been together for decades waited in line to have their ceremonies. We had ours in a little private room, and the clerk who married us was very sweet and very "present," not just rattling it off. My mother -- who sent me to a therapist when I first came out to her in high school -- was there as one of our witnesses, and she wept for joy. It was a beautiful thing, and I doubt we'll be looking for a divorce anytime soon.
posted by digaman at 9:02 AM on July 25, 2008 [13 favorites]

Mazel tov, digaman!
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:45 AM on July 25, 2008

When I was in college, I was Chapter 9 in abnormal psych...

I know that homosexuality used to be in the DSM, but I'm really curious about the extent to which it was focused on. Would a text have really devoted a whole chapter, or is she being hyperbolic?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:10 AM on July 25, 2008

ericb: The great thing about that is if California passes Proposition 8, we will still have a way of challenging DOMA through the Full Faith and Credit clause.

Even regardless of that, that repeal is good thing per se.
posted by Weebot at 10:14 AM on July 25, 2008

Absolutely, solipsophistocracy. Homosexuality had the distinction of being considered a psychological disorder that was also a crime.

Having defined homosexuality as a pathology, psychiatrists and other doctors made bold to "treat" it. James Harrison, a psychologist who produced the 1992 documentary film Changing Our Minds, notes that the medical profession viewed homosexuality with such abhorrence that virtually any proposed treatment seemed defensible. Lesbians were forced to submit to hysterectomies and estrogen injections, although it became clear that neither of these had any effect on their sexual orientation. Gay men were subjected to similar abuses. Changing Our Minds incorporates a film clip from the late 1940s, now slightly muddy, of a young gay man undergoing a transorbital lobotomy. We see a small device like an ice pick inserted through the eye socket, above the eyeball and into the brain. The pick is moved back and forth, reducing the prefrontal lobe to a hemorrhaging pulp. Harrison's documentary also includes a grainy black-and-white clip from a 1950s educational film produced by the U.S. Navy. A gay man lies in a hospital bed. Doctors strap him down and attach electrodes to his head. "We're going to help you get better," says a male voice in the background. When the power is turned on, the body of the gay man jerks violently, and he begins to scream. Doctors also tried castration and various kinds of aversion therapy. None of these could be shown to change the sexual orientation of the people involved.

posted by digaman at 10:16 AM on July 25, 2008

Divorce is the primary benefit of state sanctioned marriage. Without a legal forum to settle end of relationship disputes, one (or both) party is virtually guaranteed an inequitable result.
posted by norm at 10:24 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

To the point.
posted by digaman at 10:58 AM on July 25, 2008

I love to look at any wedding pictures, but pictures of traditional weddings are just sort of an intellectual addiction. However, every time I see pictures of same-sex weddings, just seeing the joy, the pure unadulterated (so to speak) joy on those faces makes me choke up (Thanks digaman, for sharing yours).
posted by nax at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2008

Thank you, nax.
posted by digaman at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2008

Gov. Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island praised the ruling Friday but disagreed with the court, saying that any change to marriage law should come through a public referendum, not the legislature.

That's more or less what George Wallace said about school integration.
posted by three blind mice at 12:32 PM on July 25, 2008

As someone who has recently gone through a divorce, I'd like to point out that just in general a divorce is much harder to get than a marriage. Sure, there's already the legal framework to deal with divorce between heterosexual couples, but it's still bureaucratic hell. I had the most "amicable" divorce possible with no lawyers, no joint assets, and no kids, and the whole process from soup to nuts still took ALMOST A WHOLE YEAR.

Marriage? Oh, just sign here.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:36 PM on July 25, 2008

That's precisely what was said about integration, but the GOP hadn't yet coined the phrase "activist judges," because they still thought the judiciary might come in handy when they were fulminating about "law and order."
posted by digaman at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2008

It sux cuz they cant just give custardy to the lady when nmoms ≠ 1.
posted by Eideteker at 1:45 PM on July 25, 2008

Hey, nax, here's one of ours for ya.

And yes, this was an issue in Canada before 2005 when marriage was redefined as a federal matter. Rights to marriage AND divorce are needed for full equality. Same sex couples need both.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:56 PM on July 25, 2008

you guys look so happy! choke, sniffle, dude, howmi supposed to make cogent comments when you guys keep making me cry!
posted by nax at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2008

I kinda think the State should have no business in what is essentially a spiritual event. What exactly is the State's business in marriage other than to create a tax incentive for baby making? Do we really need a tax incentive for baby making anymore, what with overpopulation and whatnot? It's even more backwards when sometimes the financially responsible thing to do is to get a paper-only divorce to prevent 2x the bankruptcy during a crisis, like a medical crisis. Marriage law is bullshit.

That being said, I get pretty misty eyed too when I see the photos outside city hall. When Multnomah County started issuing licenses, I felt a very historic moment. Oregon's really kowtowed to lame compromise since then.
posted by Skwirl at 2:20 PM on July 25, 2008

It was a beautiful thing, and I doubt we'll be looking for a divorce anytime soon.

Everyone thinks that, but at least some of us are wrong.
posted by rodgerd at 4:00 PM on July 25, 2008

True, but having been together 13 years, we're sort of road-tested.
posted by digaman at 5:05 PM on July 25, 2008

Here come the Gay Divorcees!
posted by jonmc at 6:23 PM on July 25, 2008

Do try to keep up, jon.
posted by Eideteker at 6:36 PM on July 25, 2008

Hell, I've been making that joke in just about every gay marraige thread for the past 8 years. He stole it from me.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 PM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Congrats, digaman! I wish you all the best! I'm getting married next month, and these issues (not divorce, but marriage equality) have been weighing on me.

I kinda think the State should have no business in what is essentially a spiritual event. What exactly is the State's business in marriage other than to create a tax incentive for baby making?

Well, just from a kind of vulgar Marxist point of view, marriage is a property institution, so the state gets involved when it's figuring out what belongs to whom. Pensions and social security benefits are shared between spouses but not between lovers; I think that's of obvious interest to the State.... Plus, there's the medical decision-making elements: somebody's got to have the power to make those decisions, and marriage is a good way to track when your next-of-kin moves from parent/sibling to partner. Admittedly, you could handle that with contracts, but that's weirdly legalistic and medical-power-of-attorney is not always recognized or respected. Then there's child-rearing and custody: the state has more than a tax interest in newborn citizens, and marriage and divorce is the best method we have for tracking who's going to take care off all these rugrats until they can vote.

Finally, blessing the joyous union of two lovers is a great way for the State to show a human face, to play a positive role in its citizen's lives, and develop some good will equity for when the taxing and regulation and conscription issues come up. Why cede that space to churches in a secular society?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:22 AM on July 26, 2008

Have a beautiful wedding and a long life together, AP.
posted by digaman at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2008

anotherpanacea has a good point. The state-sanctioned institution of marriage takes care of all these myriad legal and financial situations in one fell swoop, instead of having to draw up lots of different contracts. The spiritual part is up to the couple, but the bureaucratic interest is served by making the legal part simple.
posted by desjardins at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2008

The State has an interest in promoting marriage-- stable families, tax benefits (to the State), child and elder care issues, all the things mentioned above. Anti gay marriage isn't against these things is it? So it must be something else-- I have it! It must be gay sex! It continues to completely stump me as to what anti-same sex marriage agitators think they are accomplishing. Do they think that gays will stop having sex if they are not allowed to marry? Stop having children? Stop signing contracts together? Go away?

Moralist self-delusion would be funny if it weren't so tragic.
posted by nax at 1:38 PM on July 27, 2008

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