My friends, we need a new strategy to stop same-sex marriage.
In some ways, I think we’ve been making some of the same mistakes that were made when the abortion issue first began. It’s not surprising. We Americans like to think of ourselves as a lawful people, and we expect, when a whole state votes a certain way to protect life or defend marriage, that such legislative decisions will be respected by our courts.
It is long-since past time to realize that our courts are staffed, by and large, by power-hungry narcissists anxious to leave their marks on history. Twisting and turning in the prevailing winds of the zeitgeist, our nation’s judges are nothing but black-robed tyrants bent on destroying the rule of law and replacing it with the rule of judges. The recent events regarding the sickening fantasy called gay “marriage” are just one example.
But while I don’t advise anyone to give up the legal fight--it is far too early for that--it is time for us to take this fight in a new direction.
My idea is simple. We need a consensus of people of faith and people of reason to go after one of the biggest and most deadly weapons of marriage destruction. We need to form a coalition to end no-fault divorce in America.
No-fault divorce got its hooks into the destruction of marriage long before gay couples started insisting that gender difference in marriage was optional instead of being, you know, the whole point. With no-fault divorce every single marriage license in states which passed such laws went from being contracts with a certain expectation of durability or even permanency to contracts which can be dissolved easier than a business partnership. Not only that, but most contracts require both parties to be involved in any dissolution; most no-fault statutes permit a marriage to be destroyed by one person for no reason at all, leaving the other person an innocent victim to his or her spouse’s random act of cruelty.
Because of no-fault divorce, most marriage licenses aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Marriage has become a sort of “at-will” state, with either party to the contract completely free to walk away at any time for any reason, or no reason.
Here are some of my ideas, in no particular order:
1. Demand legislation to end no-fault divorce in every state where it exists.
2. Require strict criteria for divorce that would include abuse, adultery, and abandonment, but would also require a high level of proof for anything other than abuse. (I make that exception because it is unfortunately known that even with no-fault divorce, abused spouses find it hard to leave their abusers, and we don’t want to make things worse for them.)
3. Even if a divorce proceeding is allowed to go forward, require a minimum of two years between filing and the decree for a marriage in which there are no children, and a minimum of five years between filing and decree for a marriage in which there are children (again, I would exempt abuse cases, but nobody else). It should be difficult to end (legally; Catholics don’t believe valid sacramental marriages can end at all) a civil marriage, and especially difficult if there are children of the marriage. And it should be impossible to enter a “new” marriage right away. If the state has an interest even in marriages between two adults who can’t possibly generate children, then the state’s interest should include promoting the durability of that marriage. Anybody who doesn’t agree can just avoid getting married in the first place.
4. During the time lapse between filing for the divorce and receiving the decree, require marital and family counseling. For those without children, a minimum of one year of counseling that is geared toward reconciliation should be required; for those with children, a minimum of three years of counseling should be required. The third year of counseling for those with children who have irrevocably decided on divorce should be focused on the couple’s ability to engage with each other in a civil and friendly way for the sake of the children. The completion of this counseling will be a necessary part of custody arrangements.
5. To minimize divorces in the first place, require a waiting period of three months (or more) between the application for a marriage license and the actual marriage ceremony. This could be waived in certain circumstances such as unexpected military deployment but would be generally applied.
Some people may complain that this will make marriage harder for people. My answer to that is: Good! Marriage shouldn’t be so easy to enter and so much easier to leave. There should be no quickie Vegas weddings and no quickie divorces, either. Marriage is already treated like a cultural joke of sorts--it’s just the big wedding party for the two fornicators who have been shacking up for years while they saved up for their Hollywood wedding extravaganza in all too many cases. Having actual rules that would make it harder for people to leave a marriage might make people realize that marriage is a serious business.
And for those who object that my ideas would make the marriage rate decline--it’s already in a free-fall. Many people no longer see a reason for “that piece of paper.” They know in their hearts that that piece of paper--the civil marriage license--is meaningless in the shadow of no-fault divorce. Those who marry in churches or synagogues or mosques which teach that marriage is permanent are an exception to that rule, but most of them wouldn’t be deterred by the rules I’m proposing anyway. If anything, the young people whose religions take marriage seriously would be heartened by seeing City Hall stop treating it as a lewd joke.
Would my rules end same-sex “marriage?” Not by themselves, perhaps. But when fewer than 2% of all Americans identify as gay and only 600,000 of those are in some sort of domestic partnership that is attempting to look like marriage in the first place, I think ending easy divorce would impact the demand for gay “marriage.” In most states that have passed gay “marriage” laws, an initial rush to the altar has been followed by a whole lot of nothing, illustrating that few gay people even want to pretend that their relationships are anything like marriage.
If we can reform marriage in America to be something that is much harder to break apart, we will be doing a great good thing for most marriages. And, as a side effect, I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of gay couples would look at the new rules and decide that civil marriage isn’t really what they want--because as it stands right now a vast majority of gay couples have already decided they don’t want marriage itself. What they want is “marriage rights” to use to beat those of us who believe that gay sex is gravely sinful into silence. And as long as marriage is a trivial legal state that can be broken more easily than a software agreement, we’re the ones handing them the club.