I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Gay Groups Should Support a Ban on Divorce

Pam Spaulding at Pandagon reports that the author of the referendum banning same-sex marriages which just passed overwhelmingly in Texas has now announced that he wants to consider a similar ban on divorce, or at least significant restrictions on divorce.

I think that’s good news. I support a law banning divorces for Texans, as well as for the citizens of all of the other states which have adopted an affirmative ban on same-sex marriage in their constitutions or in statutes.

If our marriage laws must conform to Christian doctrine so as to bar gays from marrying, then it also must prohibit married couples from divorcing, and must also bar them from entering into so-called "re-marriages." As I pointed out last week, Christianity bars divorce and re-marriage every bit as much as it bars same-sex marriages. Thus, there is simply no intellectually or religiously honest way to claim that Christian values compel a ban on same-sex marriages while continuing to allow divorces and to recognize "re-marriages."

I really believe that gay rights organization should actively support measures like these. For one thing, whatever they have been doing thus far isn’t working -- at all. Every single state to consider same-sex marriage bans via referenda has passed them, almost all overwhelmingly.

The people supporting these same-sex marriage bans should be forced to acknowledge that under the most basic Christian principles, they cannot support the idea that we must conform our laws to Christian doctrine only where doing so restricts other people's behavior. If Christian doctrine should be the basis for our marriage laws -- as proponents of these bans have been expressly arguing -- then all divorces and marriages which are sinful under Christianity should be banned, not just same-sex marriages.

Although one wouldn’t know it from listening to "pro-family" groups, there are other mandates of Christianity beyond prohibitions on same-sex marriage. All of the divorces they are getting and the multiple "re-marriages" they are enjoying are as sinful under Christianity as same-sex marriages are.

Moralizing is easy when you don’t have to sacrifice anything or restrain yourself in any way. That’s why it’s so easy for these large majorities to approve bans on same-sex marriage. It doesn’t cost them anything, because they don’t want to marry someone of the same sex.

But they do want to divorce and find new spouses, often more than once. So let’s force them to follow through on their premise -- that our secular marriage laws must comport to Christian doctrine by excluding any "marriages" that are not permitted under Christianity -- to its logical conclusion.

Once they are married, they have to stay married. No more dumping your wife when the mood strikes or you find a newer, better, younger version. Till death do us part, for as long as we both shall live, vows before God, that which God has brought together, let no one put asunder - all of it – all of those Christian mandates should be reflected in our marriage laws.

And no more second, third, and fourth spouses either. Those are sinful and adulterous under Christian doctrine, too. Christian values and "pro-family" values compel that we not have our laws recognizing sinful, adulterous relationships as though they are "marriages."

The rhetoric about civil rights and equality is failing miserably – it is falling on deaf ears – because the vast majority of people aren’t having their equality and rights abridged by these referenda. But if it is made clear to them that the principle they are embracing will, should and must abridge not just the marriage opportunities of gays but also their own divorce and marriage rights, perhaps they will pay a little more attention.

If we really need to change our marriage laws because of threats to marriage, families, and children, then there is no question that divorce is a substantial menace. So by all means, let’s fix that, too. Let’s comport all of our divorce and marriage laws to Christian doctrine and save the family and its children by banning divorce. That should be the argument made by groups fighting for marriage equality.

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