More Than a DOMA Queen

Ok, first of all, I have to state right out that I am in favor of gay marriage. So, why then am I about to talk about the most compelling reason against it? The reason is because gay people’s rights have opened a topic that has been a little bent for a while in society.  Even though it is bent there are still a lot of innocent people with a lot to lose in the near future. Talking about it now, before it goes much further, may help to protect some of those people for whom the baby may potentially be thrown out with the bath water.

Two same sex people being legally married won’t do a thing to harm the institution of marriage. Nothing about what they do together will change a thing about how heterosexual marriage works. What happens, however, when a same sex marriage breaks up may.

All my life I’ve watched the dissolution of marriages, both in the press and in the world around me, break down upon gender specific lines. The courts, it seems, have always found it pretty easy to decide how things are divided post marriage according to what sex a person is. Women, for years assumed the weaker sex (hence deemed unable to take care of themselves) always got alimony. In modern days this may be less common, but it still goes on. Perhaps even more stereotypically, women almost always are awarded custody of children. Generally child support payments are still awarded based upon an assumption of women’s weakness. The courts have not allowed a woman’s relationship status post-divorce to bear any relationship to the amount of money coming to her, or the division of property over time.

These things have fostered a ‘men’s rights’ movement aimed largely at complaining about ex-wives in the same way that Republicans complain about paying taxes. When you hear these guys talk they sound as if they have got a handle on what I am talking about, but pretty soon you find that most of them selfishly just want to keep everything.

I am not talking about keeping everything. I am talking about how the dissolution of marriage should not be adjudicated according to perceived stereotypes. Each case ought to be handled according to how the court’s investigations have determined the roles were played within the marriage and what the playing of those roles is worth post-marriage. They may even come to throw out any value to the roles played at all. That’s exactly the thing that gay marriage is going to bring to divorce court. And once people see how much fairer it is than the way things are done now they are going to want it for heterosexual marriage too.

When people demand a fairer divorce court the existing divorce court won’t be able to handle the load. Divorces will become bogged down in potentially years of analysis on the part of the court’s investigators. Things will have to change. Probably the first thing will be that divorces won’t be as easily permitted as they now are, unless the resolution can be agreed to well before any appearance before the court. Sure, the people might decide to give the courts more resources, but will they when they find out just how much that will cost?

This has the potential to then become a women’s rights issue. Certainly, it will be seized upon by the fraudsters propping up the men’s rights movement. Will it, however, prove to become a compelling women’s empowerment moment? Will the effect of a different way of divorcing, one that no longer gives women anything automatically, cause young women and girls to look upon marriage differently? Will young girls cease dreaming of knights on white stallions and instead dream about who they can be when they grow up? And what about what this ultimately will mean for reasonable and ready access to birth control, sex education and abortion? How about income inequality?

We can be pretty certain that gay marriage all by itself won’t change society as deeply as my questions suggest. What impact will it have upon these questions, though? How much will society change? Will the change be for the better, or for the worse?

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