Sunday, January 29, 2006

Far to Fall Out

Whither gay splinters? Massachusetts has permitted same-sex marriage and Vermont civil unions long enough that divorce and dissolution decrees and measurable.

There aren't many in numbers and the percentage is far, far below that of straight marriages, but there is proof that homosexual unions are, well, normal.

The Boston Globe today have a quick think piece that draws attention to some of the additional burden such splits mean in this transitional period.

Survey says -- only 91 of the 7,828 Vermont unions in the past 16 years have dissolved. Here, 35 to 45 of Massachusetts' 7,300-plus marriages have filed for divorce. Comparable figures for straights are over 20% divorce in the first five years of marriage.

Complications from a federal government with a DoMA and disparities from a single state allowing SSM include:
  • Another state will not divorce a Massachusetts couple because it won't risk recognizing the marriage.
  • Can a gay, married person who moved from here legally marry a straight person elsewhere?
  • If so, which spouse could claim the estate of a dead person?
  • What is the tax status of alimony that is taxable for straights but the feds don't recognize the marriage?
  • Adopted, co-raised in states that do not permit gay adoption children and those from artificial insemination produce other legal problems.

Other states could recognize such realities, as do those with domestic-partnership laws. However, simple meanness and schadenfreude make it as hard as possible in far too many places. Then once they have made same-sex unions as complex as they can, they say, "See how complicated gay marriage is?"

It goes on. Those complexities will be resolved over the objections of SSM and gay disparagers eventually. It may take court action or additional legislation, and considerable time. In the mid- and long-term, that may not be all bad. Our fairly socially conservative, stuffy nation does need time to adjust to the world that insists on changing.

It's not exactly apples and oranges, maybe more like peaches and nectarines, but there are distinctions. Perhaps most important, in Massachusetts, many of the same-sex marriages were of couples who had been together for years, for decades in many cases. They were simply legalizing the real. They did not subsequently discover the other's dark side, either. They knew the morning breath and hair, and the quirks.

The straight and the gay marriage I performed are both rock steady. They both fit that pattern of long-term companions.

Many anti-gay and anti-same-sex-marriage folk would surely love to point to high divorce rates among the allegedly profligate homosexuals. That would fit their stereotype of promiscuousness and hedonism.

Fact is, we won't know for a long time how many homosexuals will be as stupid as many straights. There are the Britney Spears style red-hot Vegas mistake marriages. Those are almost entirely in the het world so far.

Surely there are gay couples just as shallow and passion-driven as the straight ones that do that. The divorce rates for such pairs are bound to be high. Gays just don't have the history yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But what is so wrong with promiscuity?
This is the problem with the gay marriage advocates. Gay marriage was decided as the issue the lgbt community needed to rally behind, by a select few group of lawyers, judges, and activists. These activists, in my opinion, were not totally in touch with the needs and desires of the queer community at large. And their timing and draining of resources towards the fight for gay marriage will only hurt our community in the long run.
We should be fighting harder than ever to deconstruct our societies norms around marriage, sex, etc. We should be standing up tall and saying I'm not normal, and I'm proud of it. Rather than trying desperately to be included in a system (marriage) that is inately discriminatory.
I recommend reading Real Family Values for more about why the fight for gay marriage will end up hurting queer culture and queer families.