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Sunday, November 12, 2006

After Banning Same Sex Marriage, Religious Right Wants to Start on Divorce

Wisconsin, like far too many states, wrote bigotry into her constitution tuesday. Of the eight states that voted on bans of same sex marriage, only one -- Arizona -- defeated them. The people behind these bans must be very happy. Which is unfortunate for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the people behind these bans are freakin' nuts.

Wisconsin's main backer of the ban was a group called Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, headed by Julaine Appling. To give you an idea of what Appling's idea of marriage actually is, let's turn to her own words:

Marriage isn't just a basketful of benefits; nor is it simply about love and commitment, though those are important components. Properly expressed, marriage is a deep spiritual union; it's a beautiful picture of Christ, the bridegroom and His bride, the Church; it's a uniting of body, soul and spirit in a oneness that has no earthly parallel.

In other words, if it ain't christian, it ain't marriage. There are a lot of non-christian people in the world who'd be surprised to learn that their marriages are a sham. But tolerance of other people's religions (or lack of religion) isn't exactly the religious right's strong point.

Not content to force her religion on everyone and buoyed by a victory at the polls, Appling wants to take on divorce.

The Capital Times:

Appling said the Family Research Institute, which took the lead in fighting the same-sex marriage ban, would "judiciously" examine Wisconsin's no-fault divorce law and eventually approach legislators about introducing changes. Under the law, spouses can request termination of the marriage without having to prove marital misconduct. Appling said she could foresee proposing a longer waiting period for divorces and implementing required premarital counseling.

That's the thing about the religious right; if you let them screw other people over, sooner or later they're going to come for you. Appling writes:

And what about marriage? Within a decade of the tumultuous, pivotal 60s, states all across the country were passing so-called "no-fault" divorce laws, making it easy for adults to walk out of supposedly "till-death" commitments, because they aren't personally happy, fulfilled, satisfied, content, or something. In the wake, we find children struggling to make sense of it all and showing all too often in their behavior that divorce affects everyone, not just the adults who severed the vows. One of the unintended consequences of this divorce culture is that we have a growing number of adults who are co-habiting rather than getting married in this state and across the country. Children are frequently the innocent victims in these arrangements, as well. But who really cares as long as adult desires are met?

I keep saying it, but to spot a bad argument, look for declarations. No-fault divorce is bad because Appling says it is -- she offers absolutely nothing to back up her argument. It hurts kids because she says it does. I'm sure parents stuck in a loveless marriage are so much better for kids. And unmarried parents are bad for children, mostly because Appling says so. On that last one, it's really hard to think of any reason why it would be bad for kids, but there ya go.

Is this merely a Wisconsin thing? Not if we take Jim Pfaff, a spokesperson for James Dobson's Focus on the Family, at his word:

Though marriage in the majority of U.S. states is now constitutionally defined as the legal union of only one man and one woman, Focus on the Family’s Pfaff says the work for pro-family activists is far from over.

“What we need to do now is to continue to press forward to protect marriage nationwide, and then thereafter we need to strengthen marriage,” Pfaff urges. He believes that one way to do that is by reforming the nation’s no-fault divorce laws.

This is what they do. It's what they've learned from decades of fighting to eliminate abortion rights. You can't get the all out ban -- people just won't stand for it. So you eat away at the edges, limiting the right over decades, until there's nothing left but an extremely narrow liberty. There's no way that the religious right could get their idea of marriage -- the christian marriage with no exit -- enshrined in law. Not immediately, anyway. So they'll limit rights until they have what they want. They'll continue to slowly redefine marriage until the definition agrees with their world view.


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