While the term “gay marriage” has become a euphemism for same sex marriage, it is a bit misleading. Because, just as as no proof of heterosexuality is required for opposite sex couples who seek to marry, none of the jurisdictions I know of which allow same sex couples to marry require any proof of homosexuality. So just as opposite sex marriage is not necessarily heterosexual, same sex marriage would not necessarily be homosexual.

However, according to some religions, marriages are in theory supposed to be consummated to be valid, and they can be annulled if they are not. But there is no legal consummation requirement. A sexless marriage may be odd, but unless there is a divorce, it remains a legal marriage. I suppose it might supply grounds for divorce, but as most divorce is now no-fault, any failure of consummation would be largely irrelevant.

It has long annoyed me that the gay marriage debate almost always frames itself as a civil rights issue, and this focus on rights ignores a rather large elephant in the room, which is precisely the opposite of rights — the power of the state to enter people’s lives and tell them what to do.

Because of its nature, marriage puts government into citizens’ lives, big time. Anyone who doubts this for a moment should consider something that the debate over gay marriage ignores, which is that 50% of marriages end in divorce, and that most of these divorces entail the state entering the lives and dictating the property rights and obligations of the parties at gunpoint. I find it mind-boggling that so many people are thoughtlessly framing a massive scheme of government involvement in people’s lives solely in terms of “rights” and that the only people who object are libertarians and a few fringe religious types. 

People talk of the “institution of marriage” but I hardly ever hear talk of the “institution of divorce.” Yet if half of marriages end up in divorce, I don’t see how it is possible to talk about one “institution” without the other. Many people complain about how gay marriage would ruin the “institution of marriage,” but the only talk about the gay threat to the “institution of divorce” seems to be snark from gay comedians.

Is that because divorce is an institution that cannot be ruined? 

At this point, my inner paranoid conspiracy theorist must ask a question.

What if divorce is the number one threat to marriage, and the gay marriage issue is being used as an emotional rhetorical diversion to avoid looking at that?

A number of conservative thinkers (Kay Hymowitz being a recent example) have bewailed the reluctance of men to marry, and argue that they should, because it makes men more manly. Common sense suggests to me that much of this reluctance to marry is not grounded in immaturity or “unmanliness,” but in a legitimate fear of divorce.

Indeed, many of the complaints about Kay Hymowitz’s argument are such ringing indictments of the divorce system that they resemble a call to revolution (hardly “unmanly” behavior). Here’s an example:

“Where is the drive to procreate, the ambition to do great things beyond yourself, the hope for the future and your place in it?”

Where is it? It is being murdered in America’s “family” courts every day of the week, in every city in America.

Sorry Dayna, men have begun to smell the rotting stench of other males who have been economically murdered and sold into slavery in government’s quest to position itself as the servant of women.

Government needs someone gullible enough to fall for all of its offered services, and men are certainly not so gullible. But women are, have fallen for it, and now so many cannot and will not find husbands within the woman’s productive years.

You don’t realize ladies that men are afraid of what they see happening to more than 50% of men who ever get married. You women are being used to do this to men and you seem to not even realize it.

Wake up and smell the rotting flesh of male slaves exploited by “family” courts. Ask a few men if they have any friends to have had their lives completely ruined by a woman who they married or had a child with. Do your market research.

This is why men are “avoiding” marriage like the plague. Because GOVERNMENT has turned marriage into a plague which kills men.

It is probably worth adding that divorce is considered by most psychologists to be one of the major life traumas like death or financial catastrophe. 

And of course, not only is divorce usually a financial catastrophe, but it can lead to death:

   1. Non-smoking, divorced men have almost the same death rate from cancer as married men who smoke 1 pack or more per day.
   2. Nearly every type of terminal cancer strikes divorced individuals of either sex at higher rates.
   3. Early death from both cardiovascular disease and stroke doubles for divorced men compared to married men.
   4. In a 1990 study of 16 developed countries, unmarried men were twice as likely to die at a younger age than married men.  For divorced men, risks were sometimes 10 times greater than for a married person the same age.
   5. Premature death due to pneumonia for divorced men is more than 7 times that of their married counterparts.
   6. Divorced and separated persons experience acute conditions such as infectious diseases, parasitic diseases, respiratory illnesses, digestive illnesses and severe injuries at higher rates than those who are married.
   7. Heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis occur in higher rates in the formerly married.

Add to the above list the mental health aspects:

   1. Divorced men have 9 times the rate of psychiatric outpatient visits compared to married men and 21 times the rate of psychiatric hospital admissions.
   2. Divorced women have a 5 times higher rate of psychiatric care than married women.
   3. Divorced men are at higher risk for major depression than divorced women among those with no prior history of depression.
   4. The divorced of both sexes have more than double the depression rates of those married.
   5. Suicide is 4 times higher for divorced white men as it is for their married counterparts.  FACT: Divorce now ranks as the #1 factor linked with suicide.
   6. Automobile fatalities tripled among the divorced for both sexes.

Additionally, because divorce records are public, and therefore accessible to the entire world, unless the records are sealed, all financial privacy is lost. Many judges balk at requests to seal records:

Lyndon has had mixed results sealing divorce records and said judges more often than not refuse to do it. When successful, he said he gives clients this caveat: “If challenged, I wouldn’t expect it to hold up.”

Randy Kessler, an Atlanta divorce lawyer, said he has received requests from clients for “the Glenn Richardson divorce,” meaning getting the case sealed right after it is filed. “But then we have to explain to them that we just can’t do it,” he said.

Family law attorneys say it’s understandable that parties to a divorce would want to have their cases placed under seal. With court files so readily accessible, attorneys say, filing for divorce can be tantamount to putting your financial information on a billboard.

Hmmm…. It doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that divorce is a fiendish enterprise, calculated to wreck men’s lives and break their spirits in every way imaginable. Perhaps marriage ought to carry a warning. In light of all the above, the ringing indictment I quoted earlier sounds almost reasonable.

So, considering the devastating mental, physical, and financial damage divorce inflicts on men, it strikes me as dishonest to conflate an entirely legitimate fear of divorce (and desire to avoid the possibility of it at all costs) into an “unmanly” fear of marriage.

But what’s even more disturbing is the way it is being systematically left out of the big moral debates we’re supposedly having about marriage.

A recent report in USA Today sought to explore and explain the reasons for a drop in marriage rates among twenty-something Americans. The article cited statistics from the 2006 census which indicate that 73% of men and 62.2% of women ages 20-29 listed themselves as never having been married in 2006. Just six years before, those numbers were significantly lower: 64% of men and 53.4% of women.

According to the article, the reasons for this shift include social and economic factors, an increase in cohabitation, more highly educated women with fewer options for equally-educated partners, and generally more life choices available to women than in decades past.

One thing not mentioned in the article, though, was fear of divorce.

A psychology professor from Florida International University of Miami responded to the article with an opinion piece, citing divorce as perhaps the most important factor in the rising marriage age. In his piece, which also appeared in USA Today, Professor Gordon E. Finley outlined his addition to the theory of declining marriage rates.

Now that’s interesting. What’s even more interesting is that not only was fear of divorce not mentioned in the original article, but Professor Finley’s argument seems to have been scrubbed from the USA Today blog. (The listed link goes nowhere.)

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/09/fear-of-divorce.html

Fear of divorce stunts many young adults’ decision to marry
18 September 2007

Gordon E. Finley, Professor of psychology,
Florida International University – Miami

While social science commentators quoted in USA TODAY’s article [below] gave a variety of reasons for why young adults are delaying marriage, they omitted the most critical: divorce (“Young adults delaying marriage,” Life, Wednesday).

With a 50% divorce rate <http://iussp2005.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=52472> for first marriages, women overwhelmingly initiating divorce and mothers getting custody about 85% of the time while fathers get visitation, child support and alimony, it is easy to see why any man wouldn’t want to get married.

Further, many of these young adults are children of divorce who know firsthand the consequences.

If one wants to increase marriage rates, one first must reform divorce laws to make them equitable for both fathers and mothers and help children maintain relationships with both parents.

Many libertarians scholars have argued that marriage should be privatized. Jeffrey Miron says that the government needs to divorce the marriage business:

(Aug. 13) — The gay marriage debate gained renewed intensity last week when a federal judge struck down California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. Supporters of gay marriage hailed the decision as a crucial blow for civil rights; opponents assailed it as an assault on fundamental moral and religious values.

Oddly, both sides agreed on one thing: that government should define and “supply” marriage.

But it is the government’s role in marriage that’s at the heart of the problem.

If marriage is privatized (reprivatized, really, as the government only got into the marriage licensing business in the 19th century), then what about privatizing divorce?

Wouldn’t that make the process less fearsome and less ruinous to men, and thereby help solve the problem of which Hymowitz and others complain?

But how would we privatize something that has become an integral feature of state control over (and micromanagement of) a large part of the populace? How much money and how many many jobs would be at stake? And other than in rants like this, why have so few people discussed it?

Privatized divorce is probably just another utopian idea for only libertarian cranks to kick around. Might as well talk about legalizing drugs or taking the Constitution literally. 

Hell, it’s almost easier to fall back on the largely abandoned religious view that divorce is bad because Jesus condemned it as sinful. I can certainly understand why religious people have abandoned that argument. If you think about it, if Jesus was right about divorce being a sin, then the no-fault divorce system would mean the state is compelling millions of people to sin.

Wouldn’t that give people who follow the teachings of Jesus a special right not to divorce?

No, because there is no right not to have the government in your life, so there can be no right not to divorce. If there were, another precious “institution” would crumble.

Anyway, if there’s no right not to divorce, gays might want to think carefully about whether they want to lose the right not to marry before Barack Obama takes it away and they have their lives ruined by the divorce courts.

MORE: It is probably worth stressing again what I have said in countless posts — that gay (same sex) marriage would intrude into the lives of gays who are not interested in and did not choose to be married. Notice the scrambling by gay couples in California who do not want the state in their lives:

gays in CA won’t even have to formally marry to get f*(ked up the ass by the fact that Gays have the right to marry in California.

We previously pointed out that a large number of gay couples registered as domestic partners in CA UN-REGISTERED right before the DP law in CA was about to change to make the assets of gay couples community property. THIS OBVIOUSLY MEANS that there is in fact a large number of Gay Couples in long term relationships in CA who DO NOT want their assets to be community property and who do not want to be legally liable for their partners’ debts.

It seems to us that the practical effect of The Gay Marriage Ruling in CA will be that the Gay Couples in CA who have lived together long term and who un-registered as Domestic Partners to avoid the “community property issue” will now be subject to Palimony Case Law.

So how would such people opt out? Draft a pre-nup for the no-nup? Why should that be necessary in a free country?

From where does the idea derive that someone who moves in with someone else and has sex with that person should be entitled to force an accounting, and demand a share of that person’s earnings? Is it a form of government-sanctioned prostitution?

Cohabitating couples may not be interested in marriage. But marriage law is interested in them.

I am tired of this issue (and tired of being misunderstood). But once again I will say that I think gays who want to live their lives without government scrutiny should beware.