As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t post here much anymore. These days, most of the links and snarky remarkies that would have have gone to the blog end up on Twitter or Facebook rather than here. However, I do still think there’s a place for the blog, particularly when it comes to lengthy, often link-ridden discussions that don’t play well on Facebook or come anywhere close to the 140-character limit. This post is the first of several such entries.
Re the heading, no, I didn’t turn gay, but yes, I have mostly flipped on the issue of gay marriage. I still believe, as I did before, that the issue ought to be decided by the democratic law-making process, and not by judges straining to give the Equal Protection Clause a meaning none of its proponents or even opponents anticipated, and which almost certainly would have been worded differently if they had. Cf. Phyllis Schafly, who almost singlehandedly killed the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, in part by arguing that a comparably worded clause in that amendment would be construed to cover gay marriage. Most thought her argument a stretch but we now know it was prescient. So while I don’t want judges getting involved in this, I do think that allowing same-sex marriage is a legislative decision that voters or legislatures, depending on the law of the particular state, should seriously consider.
The reason for my change is simple. In my heavy blogging days, when Mrs. Ex was Mrs. X and divorce was unthinkable, I naïvely assumed that our existing family law was brilliantly developed over the millennia to make the laws specific to traditional marriages as absolutely perfect as they possibly could be. Well maybe not quite so absolutely, but in that direction. I did not oppose civil unions as an alternative to same-sex marriage, but did reason that the concept of a permanent same-sex union – something most gays themselves didn’t want as recently as a generation ago – was an experiment that should be conducted separately from traditional marriage for at least a generation, with each legislature considering changes to each law separately. Maybe certain blood tests are needed for straight marriages, but not gay, or vice versa. Maybe some are needed for male-male unions but not female-female ones. Maybe no-fault marriage was a terrible idea for straights that should be rescinded someday, but for reasons having nothing to do with gays (and maybe in fact a reason gays didn’t want marriage at all in the bad old days). Too many variables that needed to be experimented with separately for a generation or so. After that period, if our Legislature’s best ideas for male-male unions, female-female unions and male-female unions all just happened to be exactly the same, we could merge the legal concepts then. In the meantime, let’s not corrupt almost a thousand years of common law genius with a brand new experiment. Baby, bathwater, etc.
My new view, after having recently gone through a divorce, is that family law is FUBAR. If you are one of those fortunate ones whose marriages go swimmingly from the day you say “I do” until one of you is dead, good for you. Family law is technically just as bad for you as anyone else, but that won’t matter since none of those crappy laws will ever be applied in your case. But those of us who they do apply to know firsthand just how bassackwards and, in some cases, downright ugly, the laws can be. North Carolina in particular is a judicial hellhole in this regard. In an ideal world, are the best rules for gay unions the same as the best rules for lesbians, let alone straights? Who knows? But I do know that both should be written on a clean slate, and if adding gays to the mix is the political catalyst we need to get the debate going, so be it. The next few posts are going to explain why I think family law is messed up, and what I think ought to be done about it. As always, comments are welcome.