Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Memo to Advocates of Same Sex Marriage

Writing at Townhall, Jennifer Roback Morse addresses the advocates of the so-called conservative case for same sex marriage:

Well, it is official. You won. We lost. Same sex marriage is the law in California. We might win the amendment in the fall, but let’s face it. The momentum is on your side: the Inexorable March of Progress and all that. Those of us in the Marriage Movement can go back to our main business of trying to make marriage more permanent and stable. To tell you the truth, same sex marriage is a bummer of a topic that isn’t much fun to talk about. I’d much rather spend my time trying to steer people away from divorce and cohabitation and teen sex.

So now that people with same sex attraction can marry, we need to start giving them sensible advice about preparing for marriage. Item #1: stop living together. Straight people have learned a lot about premarital cohabitation in the last 30 years. Women in cohabiting relationships are nine times more likely to be murdered by their partners than married women. Children in cohabiting relationships are more likely to be abused than children living with married couples.

Now that same sex couples can marry, there is no longer any excuse for the State of California to encourage non-marital cohabitation, by opposite sex couples or same sex couples. California should shut down the domestic partnership registries. Cohabitation is socially and privately inferior to marriage. The state should insist that couples either put up or shut up: get married or be single. No more half-way house of marriage-lite.

David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead surveyed all the research on cohabitation available in 2002. They concluded, “no positive contribution of cohabitation to marriage has ever been found.” Moving in with a sex partner is not preparation for marriage; it is preparation for divorce.

Speaking of divorce, we could use your help in divorce reform. You may not realize it yet, but marriage is one of the least binding contracts in this society. Adultery is one of the most painful and disruptive experiences a person can go through. Yet, the law takes no notice of this egregious violation of the most basic condition of the marriage contract. Normally, the law requires the breaching party to provide compensation to the injured party. Only violators of the marriage contract get to walk away without any accountability.

I have in my filing cabinet some model legislation that would make adultery a civil offense. That means that a faithful spouse has the right to sue an adulterous spouse for damages. Don’t get me wrong: no policemen will be peaking in people’s windows. The injured party gets to decide whether it is worthwhile, all things considered, to sue. My guess is that few people would bring such suits. But lawyers and marriage counselors who practiced back in the Bad Old Days before no-fault will tell you: the threat of such lawsuits deterred a lot of bad behavior. Now that gays can marry, you have just as great an interest in marital fidelity as the rest of us.

I’ve been looking for someone to introduce this legislation. Maybe if a member of GLBTQ caucus introduces the legislation, it will get some traction.


June 11, 2008 - Posted by | Homosexuality, Marriage


  1. Of course the statute could be struck down by a plebiscite as similar laws have been in other US states…

    Comment by Iain Hall | June 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’m all for that statute, but it should be broadened to allow suits against the third party also.

    Comment by Adam Greenwood | June 16, 2008 | Reply

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