[Posted 7/23/2004]

["Gay Divorcee" May Have New Meaning]


While Senators wasted precious time debating a constitutional amendment 
prohibiting gay marriage, those defenders of civilization overlooked a more 
ominous event.  With a recently married same-sex San Francisco couple 
seeking a divorce, family values are under siege on another flank.

The Biblical view honored for eons in cultures and religions around the 
world is that divorce is between one man and one woman, sanctioned in 
Heaven and blessed by God.  This view is not limited to Christians or Jews, 
but is esteemed by religions worldwide.  As proof, nearly half the 
marriages in this nation, founded on Judeo-Christian principles, end in 
legal separation.  The other half end with death of a spouse before divorce 
can be undertaken.

Now same-sex divorce threatens the very social fabric of American life, 
changing the institution's definition.  As Pres. George W. Bush has said: 
"[Divorce] cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots 
without weakening all of society."

California court approval of homosexual divorce will start us down an 
irreversible slippery slope, opening the door to polygamous and group 
divorce, making a mockery of traditional separation.  

Two centuries of American jurisprudence and a millennia of human experience 
are at the mercy of activist judges who even now prepare to destroy one of 
the most fundamental institutions of civilization.  In words likely to come 
from the Rev. Jerry Falwell: "We need to protect the sacred Biblical 
definition of [divorce] from the reach of unelected judges."

Elitist jurists have assumed the power to threaten the concept of the legal 
separation of a married couple.  They can destroy it by sanctioning gay 
divorce, thereby undermining the pillars on which the institution has stood 
through three thousand years.  In the end it will abolish divorce as we 
know it.  With divorce cheapened by opening it to gays, straights will no 
longer want it.

Legal scholars believe only a constitutional amendment clearly defining 
divorce in its traditional context can save it.  As Sen. Rick Santorum 
said: "The states are powerless on this issue.  The courts have shown that 
they are all over the map regarding traditional [divorce]."  

Only immediate action by Congress in preparing a "Defense of Divorce" 
amendment and equally quick state ratification will resolve this issue 
properly.  But amendments take time.  Meanwhile,  we need, immediately, 
"Protection of Divorce" legislation allowing states to nullify same-sex 
splits legalized by other states.

The rights of homosexuals should be protected, however.  Although their 
divorces will be prohibited, states ought to enact "Civil Disunion" laws 
allowing separating couples to sever insurance, medical, community property 
and other ties acquired through marriage.

But don't count on politicians . Although divorce is nonpartisan, enjoyed 
by Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, spineless elected 
officials quake in fear of the same-sex juggernaut.  Even Arnold 
Schwarzenegger, that smiling symbol of two-fisted authority, remains mum 
despite polls showing overwhelming support for traditional divorce.  

Many religious leaders are fearful of speaking out on this issue.  
Fortunately, some clerics plan to deny communion to elected officials who 
won't oppose gay divorce, applying that same rule to voters who cast 
ballots for them.  The pews, not the pulpits, truly represent American 
opinion on this issue.

And some notable conservative minds aren't in the anti-same-sex divorce 
camp.  Clarence Thomas' vote to strike down legislation protecting children 
from Internet pornography was a virtual "coming out" for this charlatan.  
And Antonin Scalia will employ legal gymnastics upholding a state's right 
to do as it pleases, despite the damage that does to traditional values.

In the end, the resolve of the people, not politicians or judges, will 
determine the law.  Homosexuals may plead the inevitability of universal, 
same-sex divorce, but in America the people rule.  They'll overwhelmingly 
demand a "Defense of Divorce" amendment and that will settle the matter.

- - -

{Ralph E. Shaffer, married forty-six years and professor emeritus of 
history at Cal Poly Pomona, can be reached at reshaffer@csupomona.edu]