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The Divorce Thing (Divorce & Gay Marriage, a truly trenchant analysis)
National Review Online ^ | Aug 13, 2003 | Maggie Gallagher

Posted on 08/13/2003 5:50:48 PM PDT by jocon307

Andrew Sullivan has a new idea. If gay-marriage opponents really cared about marriage, we would propose a constitutional amendment to ban divorce. Logically, of course, this is a complete non sequitur: Don't do what is possible to protect marriage, try to do what is impossible. Gee, that is a real recipe for progress.

But I have found this argument has a weird appeal for many conservatives, especially those who are unaware of serious ongoing cross-ideological efforts to revive marriage as the normal, usual, and generally reliable way of raising children. (See for example, The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles) Many good people from all political persuasions in the marriage movement are trying to reduce divorce and unmarried childbearing, and end the progressive deterioration in our marriage culture, with some modest, recent signs of success: Unmarried childbearing has leveled off (albeit at high levels); divorce rates have declined modestly (very modestly); recent surveys show the commitment to marital permanence is rising, not falling, among married couples and marital happiness is increasing; marital fertility appears to be up. Polls show young people hate divorce and want lasting marriage. Compared to Europe, where the marriage idea and the population itself are dying out, America has a much stronger commitment to the ideal of marriage, a basis from which to expand social recovery.

But marriage remains an institution obviously in profound structural and cultural crisis. And the crisis revolves precisely around the historic function of marriage not as a celebration of romantic love, but as the forge in which intact families are created and society reproduces itself. The norm that needs boosting in our culture is not "Soul mates should marry" but: "Men and women should get and stay married if they want children, because children need mothers and fathers. Andrew Sullivan needs to explain why this is a good time for a radical social and legal redefinition of marriage as unisex celebration of love. How again is this vast, unprecedented social experiment a conservative idea?

A friend asks: "Think of the divorced couples you know. How would gay marriage have mattered, one way or the other?" This is a version of the argument: How can the marriage of two gays affect anyone else's marriage? Even as American cultural norms are dramatically reshaped by elites, we seem to deny the power of norms to shape our own lives or the lives of people we know.

I am not sure gay marriage would matter to people who are now married, people whose ideas and values were already formed along the cultural norms of their time. But I am sure unisex marriage will dramatically affect the cultural norms and values of the next generation in ways that will encourage divorce and disconnect marriage further from childbearing. Young people today do not reject marriage, but they are extremely tempted to redefine it in ways the exclude the childbearing dimension. Marriage is about love between two adults. Children? They are another matter entirely.

With legalized gay marriage, idealized portraits of Heather and her two mommies will enter every public-school classroom in America, not to mention media and entertainment. Our sons will be told that they are not necessary in family life. Our daughters will be informed by government authority that children do not necessarily need fathers. How important, then, is it to stick to a marriage so your kids have a father? If two mommies are equally good for a child, why won't a single mom and her mother do? How can we revive a stronger commitment to the importance of fathers among both men and women if the government tells us fathers are not that important, only commitment is. If any two parents will do, why not just divorce and remarry as often as you like? Your child will have two parents in the home, and that is all that matters, right?

This divorce thing is a lawyer's trick, a diversion from the question at hand: Will same-sex marriage strengthen or weaken marriage as a social institution? If the answer is that it will weaken marriage at all, we should not do it: It is morally callous and indifferent, given the depth of the marriage crisis we face, the suffering it is causing. If gays and lesbians are facing practical problems in arranging their lives, caring and responsible people will look for solutions other than destabilizing the one critical social institution which protects children from fatherlessness, poverty, pain, and suffering.

According to the Census Bureau, exactly 172,000 same-sex households with children in this country (these children are mostly products of divorced homes by the way). In the Netherlands, just ten percent of same-sex partners have married. If the same proportion holds here, we are redefining marriage to suit the needs of 17,200 same-sex households with children. Meanwhile of the 77 million children in this country, at least half are going to experience broken homes, if we do not succeed in reversing this marriage decline. But what is the one marriage program seriously pushed by Andrew Sullivan, courts, and legal elites? Gay marriage. By what moral calculus do they decide the interests of adults with statistically unusual sexual tastes is the most important thing? To me it is a striking example of a revival of Seventies/"Me-Decade" adult narcissism.

In fact the whole push for gay marriage looks very similar to the push by legal elites for unilateral divorce. The very same arguments are used: inadequate and preliminary social-science data used to "prove" that divorce has no ill effects on children. Critics who warned that redefining divorce as a unilateral right might increase divorce were pooh-poohed. Only bad, unhappy marriages would be affected, we were reassured. After all, how can the divorce of an unhappy couple affect happily married people? Most tellingly, radical transformation of divorce laws were presented as a conservative, modest reform that would actually strengthen marriage.

Do not believe it. It wasn't true of divorce; it isn't true of gay marriage.

Maggie Gallagher is the editor of

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: children; divorce; familylife; gaymarriage; maggiegallagher
It is short and good, so it's all here, not just an excerpt. It is only via the latest slip down the slope that the problems with the great divorce rage of the 60s & 70s are revealed.

We all need to do better by our families and our society as a whole.

1 posted on 08/13/2003 5:50:49 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jocon307
I've got an alternative to propose to Andrew Sullivan. I'll get behind gay marriage if gays get behind criminal anti-adultery laws with teeth for both heterosexuals and gays. Want marriage to mean something? Let's make it a true monogamous contract enforced with criminal laws if you are caught having sex with someone other than your spouse, even if your spouse consents. How many gays do you think would go for that?
2 posted on 08/13/2003 5:59:09 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: jocon307
Please include the original title when posting an article.
3 posted on 08/13/2003 6:00:32 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: jocon307
Gay divorce is hard on the couples' gerbils.
4 posted on 08/13/2003 6:02:26 PM PDT by Bluntpoint
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To: jocon307
Bump for Maggie Gallagher- a true brave soul.
5 posted on 08/13/2003 6:03:45 PM PDT by independentmind
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To: Admin Moderator
Sorry about that, didn't realize it was required. I usually do, and will in the future, but the original title didn't seem very good to me. It was just kind of vague and undescriptive, or so it struck me.
6 posted on 08/13/2003 6:14:21 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: jocon307
Institutionalizing so-called "gay" marriage will not be the total panacea that gays themselves think it will be:

"There is little information on gay and lesbian domestic violence for several reasons. First, only since 1987 have statistics regarding gay and lesbian domestic violence been collected. The San Francisco Police Department reported no fewer than 100 calls per month for gay and lesbian domestic violence in 1987. The

New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project reported that 12-15% of their clients sought services there for domestic violence. Others report figured as high as 39% (Schilt et al., 1990). Second, as most types of abuse are under reported, these figures are probably the result of either under-reporting as well (Island & Letellier, 1991).

Further, there is a great reluctance in the gay/lesbian community to acknowledge battering. It makes gays look "bad" in an already homophobic society and takes efforts away from fighting homophobic elements of society.

It goes against most feminist beliefs as well -- that a lesbian woman, a woman most likely holding feminist ideals that women should be treated with respect and that domestic violence is largely a gender issue, that such a woman should hit another woman is unbelievable.

Third, this kind of violence may be misreported as well. What is really gay domestic violence is often recorded in police logs as "mutual combat." If society refuses to acknowledge the relationship, it is impossible to acknowledge the domestic violence.

The only known statistic, according to Island and Letellier (1991), regarding gay male coupling, comes from the 1989 San Francisco Examiner, which after a national study of gay men reported that 60% of gay men coupled. Island and Letellier cite Yollin (1989) reporting that 64% of heterosexuals couple, so the coupling rate between homosexuals is very close to that of heterosexuals. Island and Letellier argue that the rate for domestic violence in gay couples should be at least the same as in straight couples, as there is no evidence that gay men are any less violent than straight men.

owever, it is also possible to argue further that the incidence of gay domestic violence is probably greater that heterosexual domestic violence because;

1) there are two men in a gay couple, and either could be a batterer (Island & Letellier, 1991);

2) there is still some social norm not to hit a woman and there is no woman in a gay relationship (Island & Letellier, 1991);

3) there are the social norms that combat between men is always mutual combat and men should fight to resolve differences; and

4) there are additional stressors of gay and lesbian relationships not present in heterosexual relationships."

My bet is that the incidence of gay on gay violence is MUCH greater than heterosexual domestic abuse.

7 posted on 08/13/2003 6:18:30 PM PDT by 45Auto (Big holes are (almost) always better.)
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To: Bluntpoint
LOL! Too funny!

Do you think they have disputes over custody and visitation rights? What if one gerbil-naps them from the other? I don't even want to contemplate a gerbilcide-suicide scenario! :-D
8 posted on 08/13/2003 6:21:03 PM PDT by BradyLS
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To: Question_Assumptions
"...a true monogamous contract enforced with criminal laws if you are caught having sex with someone other than your spouse..."

I don't know about the gays, but I well remember a news story from a while back (in pre-internet/24 hr news cycle days-darn I feel old and new at the same time now, how wierd!), about a woman in Connecticutt (I think, somewhere around here) who was urging the State Troopers to go arrest her hubby who was off with his honey in some motel or wherever. Of course the troopers weren't biting, and it became a bit of a flap.

I heard a state legislator quoted to the effect of: these laws would have been off the books years ago, but no one wants to stand up on the floor and defend adultery.

Don't know whatever happened in this case, or re: Ct's anti-adultery laws. But, this brings me to the #1 reason I am opposed to gay marriage, six months later we'll have gay divorce and it won't be some old Astaire musical.
9 posted on 08/13/2003 6:21:04 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: BradyLS
I know one divorced gay guy who became like a "Disney Land" father for his gerbil. Always buying him fancy Ky Jellies and first class Sheepskins just to stay on his good side when he saw him every other week.
10 posted on 08/13/2003 6:34:07 PM PDT by Bluntpoint
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To: jocon307
No problem. I added the original title to your (better) title. It's ok to (add your own title) to a thread in addition to the original.
11 posted on 08/13/2003 6:36:51 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: jocon307
Excellent article. I can't bear Andrew Sullivan, a person totally defined by his vice.
12 posted on 08/13/2003 6:49:45 PM PDT by Tax-chick (GUNS - the anti-liberal!)
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To: Bluntpoint
Most of them want their gerbils with no strings attached.
13 posted on 08/13/2003 6:50:11 PM PDT by Agnes Heep
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To: jocon307
Legally speaking, I would welcome a consideration of infidelity in divorce proceedings. Still allow no fault where mere testimony under oath for irreconcilable differences is enough to establish the breakdown. However, the infidelity would go to custody, property division, and alimony. (I would also alow the forced restoration of maiden names in non-child marriages but that is another story.)

There should be a penalty for infidelity.
14 posted on 08/13/2003 6:55:52 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: jocon307
If you want to know where Andrew Sullivan and the rest of the patriarchy-hating leftists want to take us, look at Sweden. Hardly anyone gets married there, and homosexuals are revered. Its all connected, and if you ask most gays, they'd be just as happy if marriage were dissolved altogether.

Problem is, theyll probably get their way.

15 posted on 08/13/2003 7:15:00 PM PDT by Nonstatist
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To: jocon307
16 posted on 08/13/2003 9:23:24 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: jocon307
17 posted on 03/01/2004 9:59:09 AM PST by k2blader (Some folks should worry less about how conservatives vote and more about how to advance conservatism)
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