November
11th 2008
We need gay marriages for the gay divorces

Posted under: American history, GLBTQ

It’s a busy, busy week here at Baa Ram U. and Historiann.com HQ, so I’m going to let my friends do the blogging for me.  If like me you want to savor Betsy Markey’s schadenfreudelicious victory (by TWELVE POINTS!) over Marilyn Musgrave last week, click on over to GayProf’s meditation on Obama’s victory and California’s passage of the anti-gay amendment, and read his discussion of gay marriage and gay divorces over at Center of Gravitas:

Several years ago, an eight-year relationship that I was in ended quite badly. When my Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) decided that he no longer loved me, he also decided that I warranted as much consideration as a used Kleenex in a wastebin. Though certainly imperfect, legal mechanisms exist for heteros to divorce in ways that provide mediation and balance to an otherwise emotionally impossible event. I did not have access to any of that legal recourse.

Therefore, I was left to either battle it out with the Liar Ex on my own (something that I was too hurt and tired to do) or to bow to his decisions and whims. He saw nothing unfair in the fact that I struggled to pay both rent for my own place and also half the mortgage in the house where he lived (and where I didn’t reside for over 1.5 years). On the contrary, he astoundingly imagined that he was the real victim in that situation. Isn’t it interesting that, no matter how outlandish and hurtful our actions, we never can see ourselves as the villain in the story of our own lives? When it came to the division of our meager positions, his notion of “fair” was that anything I owned before we met was “mine” and anything that we bought after we met was “his” (unless he clearly didn’t want it). We won’t even get into the question of ownership of debt. Had the state recognized our relationship in the ways that it recognizes equivalent hetero relationships, institutional structures would have existed that would have protected me from a truly callous and self-centered ex.

GayProf is a dewy 29 and holding, so he may not have thought about this yet, but marriage may become more important to people as they leave their devil-may-care twenties and thirties behind and enter their ohmigod-be-careful forties and the who-will-care-for-me fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond.  Survivor’s benefits and rights, and who makes end-of-life decisions, were at the forefront of marriage rights cases, not the admittedly more fun and picturesque decisions about what kind of wedding to have and where to register for which china patterns.  (If only marriage was just a big party, all of the time, with presents!)

9 Comments »

9 Responses to “We need gay marriages for the gay divorces”

  1. e.j. on 11 Nov 2008 at 8:44 am #

    It also seems from the recent round of state amendments banning single family adoption that preventing gays from marrying will also prevent them from adopting children. Another reason why marriage is about more than the presents and the cake (though I do enjoy cake!)

    It seems odd that the same folks who embrace a culture of life and want to promote adoption would, at the same time, work to limit the number of potential families, even foster families.

    So many things in this world I don’t understand…

  2. Notorious Ph.D. on 11 Nov 2008 at 10:22 am #

    I read in the NYT Sunday that Arkansas, which just passed a law prohibiting “unmarried cohabitating couples” from adopting has three times as many children waiting for adoption as people willing to adopt or foster them.

    Oy.

  3. Erica on 11 Nov 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    Why isn’t the marriage industry and divorce lawyer industry making a bigger push for gay marriage? It’s not like straight people will stop getting married and divorced in protest.

    I have yet to meet a single couple whose family was negatively affected by gay marriage, although I’ve met plenty who have gone through catastrophic problems due to heterosexual relationships :P

  4. Roxie on 11 Nov 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    We’ve been doing a little thinking about Prop 8 over in my corner of the blogosphere, too. It’s here: http://roxies-world.blogspot.com/2008/11/repetitive-motions.html

  5. hysperia on 11 Nov 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    There ARE disadvantages to having a relationship governed by the law and the state, particularly to women. “Old-fashioned” feminism understood traditional marriage to be one of the primary tools of patriarchy. Women who are forced into the formal judicial system to determine custody of children, support and division of property do not do well at all. Changes made to “family” and divorce law have sometimes done at least as much harm as good, particularly when they use concepts of gender neutrality, thus obscuring the unequal position of many women or “spouses” as the case may be. When lesbians whom I know utilize law to determine how their partnership arrangements will be dissolved, I almost always see one party or the other attempting to depend on very traditional notions of partnership, like, I worked while she went to school so now she owes me for the rest of my life, or, I stayed home for five weeks with the adopted child so I’m the primary caregiver. There are tax and other economic consequences s as well, that are not necessarily to the advantage of married people. Many feminists and LGBYQ people are doing work on this.

    I can’t support the notion that gay and lesbian people can’t be married on the simple grounds that it makes no sense to me to exclude them. But, speaking for myself, there are no circumstances that I can think of that would prompt me to get married myself.

  6. hysperia on 11 Nov 2008 at 6:14 pm #

    Hmm, that’s supposed to be “LGBTQ”

  7. Geoff on 11 Nov 2008 at 9:10 pm #

    just a minor correction, Historiann — GayProf’s age on his profile is 34.

  8. Historiann on 11 Nov 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    Geoff–you’re such a spoilsport! (Haven’t you heard the phrase, “29 and holding?”)

    And, Hysperia: I totally agree. I think GayProf would agree, as would most of my queer academic friends (and my academic queer friends)–they’re very skeptical of marriage, it may not be for them personally, but it does clarify family relationships and inheritance law in important ways.

    Personally, I hate the notion of the state sanctioning relationships or defining my relationship (if I have one) in particular ways. But, since that’s the way business is done in Western Christendom…we all have to make our peace with marriage or with our outlaw relationships, and I just want to make that an equal-opportunity problem for my gay as well as my straight friends.

  9. cgeye on 12 Nov 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    Well, back in the day my gay male frenz said there was only one reason for gay marriage: “HALF”.

    Yes, half of the property, income, physical investments made in a long-term relationship evaporate for gays and lesbians if one partner is more powerful and vindictive. It takes those well-established divorce to make splits work when one party wants to be obstructive.

    And yeah, the lobbyists for gay marriage could say this, but they forward the happier story of old people finally saying in public that they’ll belong to each other forever, so go know.