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Protect marriage! But ban divorce?

License Har dee har har har. The Associated Press has picked up the story of a satirical push for a ballot measure to ban divorce in California. Call it a mockery of the California ballot initiative process, marriage or Proposition 8 supporters, but you can't deny that it's thoroughly entertaining:

In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of [Comedy Central] writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California.

The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.

"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said. ...

Not surprisingly, Marcotte's campaign to make divorce in California illegal has divided those involved in last year's campaign for and against Proposition 8.

As much as everyone would like to see fewer divorces, making it illegal would be "impractical," said Ron Prentice, the executive director of the California Family Council who led a coalition of religious and conservative groups to qualify Proposition 8. ...

Prentice said proponents of traditional marriage only seek to strengthen the one man-one woman union.

"That's where our intention begins and ends," he said.

Funny, what's preventing Prentice (who's written for us on gay marriage before) from using similar logic in his battle against same-sex nuptials? Couldn't he be content with "seeing fewer gay marriages" through advocacy instead of rewriting the California Constitution, just as he does in his efforts to reduce the divorce rate of straight couples?

As for ending marriages, I'd be open to some tinkering with the "till death do us part" system that results in too many expensive, drawn-out divorce battles. In 2007, Amy Alkon (whose recent Times Op-Ed article on unruly children in airplanes spent a good chunk of time on our "most viewed" and "most e-mailed" lists) suggested that marriage contracts ought to be more like driver's licenses: Every few years, couples would have to renew them. An intriguing idea, but a practical one? Post your thoughts in the comments area below.

(Full disclosure: I've been happily hitched since 2007, and I wouldn't hesitate to "renew" my marriage license under such a scheme. As for divorce, my parents split when I was 3 years old -- a move that, on reflection, was in everyone's best interest.)

-- Paul Thornton

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times


Comments () | Archives (51)

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This debate ITSELF has become immoral.

We are in the process of creating a system of Apartheid for Gay Americans, who only have the power to stand by and watch as the heterosexuals who CREATED them carve their gay children out of the Constitution state-by-state.

This is usually done while screaming about 'morality' and 'protecting the children.' I guess what they mean is that they are 'protecting the straight children.' Clearly, gay children are damned in this country.

Morality indeed, heterosexuals.

Morality indeed.

Marco Luxe

One man, one woman, one time......except for Newty, Ronnie, and Rush, et al. If you voted for Prop 8 and would hesitate to vote for a "no remarriage" prop, then yes, Virginia, you are a hypocrite.


While this is satirical, it is hardly funny. It shows the point so often missed: if people truly believe what they're saying about saving traditional marriage---yes we would ban divorce. And we'd also re-institute wives as the property of husbands, who are free to beat and rape their wives. That's our tradition, as well. If people truly believed marriage is only about procreation, then we would ban sterile people from marrying and annul any childless marriages after 5 years. Let's admit it. These arguments are weak and spineless. They are a cover for the underlying hate and fear of gays. There are no rational reasons for preventing same-sex marriages.

As someone who continues to go without equal civil rights; as someone who has been a second-class citizen my entire life, I fail to see the humor---har de har har!


How about this: If marriage is a religious institution that is regulated by "the church" (Which "church"? Which denomination? Which religion? Who knows.) and "the church" wants to control who gets married and who can't (we call that discrimination), then fine, let "them" have it.

In the meantime, our government should not recognize marriage as equal to or a substitute for a civil union. If a couple wants the rights of a civil union, they will have to be "united" under the law at City Hall. If they want to be "married" in whatever separate religious ceremony they choose, that is their right. But that would not confer them the legal rights of a civil union, and the States would no longer invest the power of civil union to religious authority. Then we would have true separation of "church" and State, and wouldn't that make everyone happy?


Typical Californians. Maybe instead of worrying about banning divorces you should trying to fix your broken economy. High taxes...over population...poor housing overpriced housing. Even states like Michigan and Florida get it more than you do. Wake up! You are no longer the envy of this country so stop trying to set an example for the rest of us.


If we're going to use the power of the state to force everyone into a strict definition of marriage, we should go all the way. The purpose of marriage is to provide the economic and social basis of family, specifically for the birth and raising of children. We should require that anyone wishing to get married sign a contract, not only with each other, but with the state, obligating them to have a verified pregnancy within the first six months of being married, or to have their marriage automatically annulled by the state. Furthermore, divorce, once children are born, should not be allowed without automatic and guaranteed child support paid to and distributed by the state. Anyone who is sterile, whether naturally or artificially, should not be allowed to marry. Anyone who is married should be legally banned from using contraception, and should be criminally prosecuted for any marital infidelity. If gays can't marry because they can't have children, straight people shouldn't be allowed to marry either if they can't or won't.


I am all for this Ballot measure! Along with Protecting "Traditional Marriage", we must also ban Interracial Marriage, premarital sex and unwed child bearing. This is the ONLY way to Achieve "Traditional Marriage" in all its true glory.


The gay rights movement are in a disarray. They don't know what to do just like they don't even know thier own sexes are. Let'll bet that you will loose again and again. If you really want to win go to the Middle East and defend you rights or are you that scared to go there?

michael smith

A joke? No, this is NOT a joke. This is for REAL. You STRAIGTS want to protect your "joke" of a marriage despite the sham it is with divorce rates hitting 60%, then so be it. Let's "protect" marriage.

As a Gay American Male, stripped of MY HUMAN RIGHT to marry whom I was made to marry, I welcome an opportunity to kick you in the balls specific to the "santity of marriage."

Yes, let's "protect marriage." Further, if Christians believe that marriage is for making "babies." I also recommend ONLY FERTILE HETROSEXUAL COUPLES be allowed to marry as clearly they will be unable to uphold the purpose of "marriage."

Count me in.

Derrick Meryl

Gays can have civil unions - same thing.

Also, marriage is not a basic human right, it's not like you have to drink from separate water fountains.

Bret Shalt

Yes, in fact it is like having to drink from seperate water fountains.

Ironman CarmichaelI

Right on, John Marcotte! Only the bill should be taken in deadly earnest by all those who have been preaching "traditional" marriage.

And next should come a ban on out-of-wedlock childbirth. Oh, "the people" would flock to the polls over that one, wouldn't they?

Come on, hetero hypocrites! Put your morals where your mouths are! I dare you!

Ironman CarmichaelI

Civil unions are not the same thing. How many heterosexual couples would put up with being told that what they had together was a civil union, not a marriage? That's what makes it a "separate drinking fountain."

Stephen T. Colbert

God meant for divorce to be between a man and a woman! Truthiness spoken from the mouth of awesomeness.




Of course civil unions aren't the same thing. They are for a different KIND of voluntary association than marriage. Were were all of the "equality" activists when California's Domestic Partnerships law excluded most both-sex couples? What if someone wants a DP instead of marriage?

Well, the fact is, DP are primarily for same-sex couples, and marriage unites the sexes.

As for the "divorce ban" - the more people mock the voters of California for our deep convictions, the harder it will be to persuade is to change marriage licensing laws. But I would love to see true divorce reform. Click on my name for what I've already written about this.


"And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the moral source of America's authority."
President Obama December 1, 2009.

How about starting at home?


Marriage is renewable every day but setting a date to renegotiate or terminate the contract is a good idea.


Ken, actually, domestic partnerships in California do allow for couples of opposite genders. You may actually want to research the issue before posting on it. However, the fact is that since marriage provides more protections than domestic partnerships, most couples would prefer a marriage over a domestic partnership. If you can't see that, I don't think you fully understand the impact and importance of a marriage.

Gregory Sassaman

Granting marriage licenses in like manner as driver licenses detracts from the purpose and substance of marriage. Marriage exists primarily for the benefit of children, so that they have a stable family life. It also sets the tone and example for the upcoming generation in society, giving committed love between men and women preeminence in our culture. A driver license scheme for marriage would result in insecurity, emotional drama when the license "expires", uncertainty, and overall societal instability. We need to reverse this marriage destabilization trend by reducing divorces, not by making marriages less committed. Divorce has definitely become too easy. People need to stick it out through the tough times and work things out. Our society needs to reclaim its marriage culture of the 1950's (not saying everything in the 1950's was right, but marriage seemed to be one thing that worked fairly well back then).


My bother told our family he is Gay and now we no long have a family anymore. He could have keep it to himself, but no, he had to come out of the closet and nobody wants to look at him or eat with him. Maybe there should be a survey that can show how many families have been destroyed by family members coming out of the closet thinking they will be excepted with open arms? It has brought nothing but shame into our lives. Merry Christmas


I'm reminded of the Golden rule; and certainly if you dish it out you have to be ready to take it. But this isn't from a gay or lesbian group, as you know. It's a regular guy making a statement. Opposite-gender marriages can have any relationship with God or none at all, never have children or even like them, they can be deviant and undesirable, yet they can still marry, no question. No matter how you look at the same-gender marriage reluctance it's prejudice. Bottom-line people do not give gays and lesbians their place in our human family. People still think they're a version of a heterosexual and they're not. They are, period. But society has feared their difference and apparently twisted their realty from it. Abuse someone and you change their world. No, opposite-gender marriage doesn't need a license check-up or divorce restrictions. People just need to give everyone their place and keep your God to yourself.


I'm not sure if this should actually be viewed as a joke. I don't understand what is funny about banning divorce. I think it would actually make people take marriage more seriously. Isn't "marriage" supposed to be "til death" not "til it becomes inconvenient"?

It is funny though to read Mr Prentice's comments about how making divorce illegal would be impractical. Isn't it also impractical to some people that gay marriage was made illegal in California? Maybe he should have thought of that before pushing to take that away from other Californians.


Ok...let's outlaw divorce, protecting the marriage vows until "death do us part"....then we just have to get a proposition banning the prosecution of spousal murderers!

Whew...I was worried for a minute.


I agree. Let's make Divorce illegal for anyone who has had children... Those that haven't had children are free to get a divorce.

Argument is over!


I find this very amusing. Nice work John Marcotte.


It has my yes vote, this is good tactics, and cool funny


I would support the initiative to ban divorce, only to be applicable to those who support a ban on gay marriage. This would be not only be eminently practical (a simple registration could register both simultaeously), but politically preferable.


Tom Johnson

Thank God for Marcotte showing that these supposed Christians are simply hypocrites filled with hate. The Bible is quite clear - no divorce.

When you pick and choose which of God's teachings you are going to follow, in fact, you're following none of them. You've become your own god and you're lying to yourself if you think that imposing your so-called values on others in the name of glorifying a higher power is anything other than sanctimonious nonsense.


M. Duchamp

We should follow the marriage model of Latin American countries. There one has a civil contract of marriage which is entirely a secular affair in which the various rights and protections of a marriage are extended to a couple and the family it creates. It could be open to all adults regardless of gender. There, a religious marriage is often separately performed in accordance with the preferences of the couple and the rules of their religion, but it has no legally binding effect and is not recognized by the state. Thus you have a dual system in which the state may protect its legitimate interests and the religion is free to sanction or refuse to sanction a "marriage" relationship in accordance with it's doctrine.

The objections to gay marriage are almost entirely based upon the religious belief that homosexual sex is a sin. With such a dual marriage system, the state really has no interest in the religious element of marriage; only in the maintenance of an orderly system to recognize the civil rights and protections for a couple to function as a legally recognized family unit. Religions, on the other hand, would be entirely free to set any rules they pleased regarding who may marry. They could discriminate against anyone based upon what ever rational or irrational criteria they chose to impose.


If you don't plan on staying together for the rest of your lives you should not get married. Vows which have to be renewed would be an insult to everyone who works hard to stay together - as if the 'I do' is not enough. Despite what some people seem to think, it is not unusual for a couple to stick together until death do them apart. My parents have been married for over thirty years, and there is no-one in my extended family who has gotten a divorce - in fact, very few people I know are divorced or have parents who are divorced. I don't know what the demographics of divorcees look like - who is getting all these divorces? My family is non-religious, liberal, upper-middle class - probably the sort of people the right wingers would have you believe are anti-marriage.

Obviously divorce should be an option, but a divorce is an unfortunate outcome - it shouldn't be a quick-fix of marital problems. If you feel you don't want something permanent you should stay girlfriend-boyfriend or bf-bf or whatever. Unfortunately that is the only option for gays, which is bad and should be changed.

Michael Lockhart

In Matthew 5, Jesus equates remarriage after divorce with adultery. "Whoever divorces a woman causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries her commits adultery."

So, we have God on our side. This is going to be the best culture jam ever -- either gays will get the right to marry (yay!) or divorce will actually get banned and everyone will be pissed off at losing their rights. (haha!) It will either be glorious or ridiculous, as the aftermath of a good campaign should be.


I don't know why everyone keeps calling this "satirical."
I'm sick and tired of divorce. My parents are divorced; my husband's parents are divorced, my best friends' parents are divorced-- seriously, everyone I know is a child of divorce. I'm not joking; I would like to see a ban on divorce. This occurred to me when I was 12! Start with couples who have kids! Either that, or make it WAY harder to get married.


Funny? I don't see the humor. It really is simple - if the concern is with "preserving marriage", then the answer is to eliminate divorce. If legally eliminating divorce is "impractical", well so too are traffic regualtions, automobile-safety rules and laws mandating food quality (how much did it cost to institute the post-Jungle food laws, anyway?). Sanctimonious rationalizations are par for the course nowadays. Seems to me that some fellow named Jesus said a few things about that.

Berkley Palmer

Good luck defining marriage on secular (aka "rational") grounds. The religious mob will spit on your civilized scheme to convert "death til we part" to "relationship that can be terminated at will". Our current system of giving lip service to the sanctity of marriage while, on a practical level, treating it like any other legal contract, is about as honest as our society can deal with.

Terry Kolbe

Groups such as the California Family Council claim they want to "preserve marriage," and preventing unions by gays is key to that. Of course, this is bull, since heterosexuals' current or future marriages would be wholly unaffected by either allowing or disallowing gay marriage. So, by definition, the goal of the "pro-family" crowd is simply to deny gays certain rights, with no true goal of "protecting" anything. But banning divorce? Now THAT'S a foolproof way to "protect" marriage, and the bible-thumping crowd should be rooting for it like white-on-rice. But they aren't. Which simply proves what lying hypocrites they really are.


As a marriage equality supporter and someone going through a divorce involving a nasty custody battle, I both see the humor in this and how horrible it would be if it passed.

For all you jackasses who say " 'till death" blah blah "especially if they have kids," clearly never married someone who wants a child and when they get one, it becomes clear they only wanted one in the same way they wanted a pair of expensive shoes. Banning divorce would just result in semi-permanent separations and legally dubious custody situations for the children. Yeah, that's good for a family.

Gordon Potik

That takes care of the question ... "For as long as you both shall live". It will also make people think about establishing the Corporation called "Marriage Between Party one and Party two".

We should establish once a for all that the Federal and State Governments should stay out of the entire subject of Marriag. Instead a Marriage should be a legal establishment of a Corporation along with the names of the people involved and the terms and conditions for the establishment and dissolution of said Corporation. When the defined individuals decide to desolve the Corporation they will desolve the said Corporation according to their rules of dissolution

Ironman Carmichael

Please tell us you're only kidding, C.B. (post 18).


Sean, I have done my research, thank you very much.


(5) Either of the following:
(A) Both persons are members of the same sex.
(B) One or both of the persons meet the eligibility criteria under Title II of the Social Security Act as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section 402(a) for old-age insurance benefits or Title XVI of the Social Security Act as defined in 42 U.S.C. Section 1381 for aged individuals.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section,
persons of opposite sexes may not constitute a domestic partnership unless one or both of the persons are over the age of 62.

Oh, and look at this...

297.5. (a) Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources
of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

So in California, the battle is over the WORD "marriage" - that is IT. For some reason, activists don't want us to have a word that describes ONLY the uniting of a bride+groom. Click on my name for a lot more of how I approach this issue.


Like I said, the law excludes MOST both-sexes couples - they can't get a domestic partnership designation for their relationship. And yes, there ARE both same-sex couples and man-woman couples who DO NOT WANT to be "married" but are open to the DP label.

So I guess we don't all have a fundamental right to whatever kind of state designation that we want.

My original point stands... DPs are for a different kind of relationship than marriage.

Donna Russell

21. My bother told our family he is Gay and now we no long have a family anymore. He could have keep it to himself, but no, he had to come out of the closet and nobody wants to look at him or eat with him. Maybe there should be a survey that can show how many families have been destroyed by family members coming out of the closet thinking they will be excepted with open arms? It has brought nothing but shame into our lives. Merry Christmas

Posted by: C.B. | December 02, 2009 at 08:41 PM
Don't blame the brother. Blame the family that failed the "unconditional love" bar. Would the family still have loved him if he had abused his wife? killed his wife? cheated a family member? become a pacifist or a vegetarian? Your brother didn't change. He is who he always was, but the family only gives love and acceptance on its own terms. Sorry...it was never truly a family.


I burst out laughing the first time I heard about this. Banning divorce. In California, home of the rich and famous. Really? Good luck with that. Then I found out why he was doing it - to indirectly prove how absolutely unfair conservatives are being towards people who may be different in the matter of sexuality, but who simply want to love who they want to love just like everyone else.

I applaud John Marcotte in every possible way for striking such a powerful point. Sure, conservatives can laugh it off as blasphemy, but there will be a nervous ring to their chuckles. Maybe divorce SHOULD be outlawed for a while - just so everyone can feel the discrimination that homosexuals must feel every day of their lives when they can't legally be with the one they love.

Kudos to John Marcotte.


Thank you for your comment.
Seriously people! There are more important and serious issues to be worrying about. It's not just our state that has problems it's the whole world. We are destroying it and if you don't understand that or even see it... I don't know why you even bother on fixing issues that in a couple of years wont even matter because you won't have a world to enjoy.
Wake up!! The world doesn't just revolve around you guys.

Westside Steve

I'll vote for Proposition D! Why not, guys usually get better terms in other states anyway. If it makes the ballot, it will not be a joke: there are a lot of voting Catholics in this state. Add the traditional "family values" crowd and you might get a majority! It would be soon overturned, but would give us a break from the nonstop budget battles in Sacramento that pass for "politics" in this state.

Also, in ancient Ireland, Celtic peoples did the renewable marriage contract thing. As children were basically communally (tribally) provided for, it was not considered an institution vital to thier welfare. So it won't work here I guess. Then again, child support won't go away. Hmmmm.


its stupid i dont agree at all its just not worth it why even allow marriage if there is no divorce...not all couples get along you know! WROOOONG YOU ARE WRONG YOU WILL RUE THIS LATIMES RUE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leslie Higgins

Too bad this isn't real. Divorce should be illegal, for what God hath joined, man cannot put asunder.

Joe Mustich, JP

To the marriage police, sexually phobic and flat earthers, life's just to short, so please find another issue to focus on in the 21st century.

And please don't forget that marriage is firstly a civil matter in America, as marriage licenses are issued by and recorded in town halls not church halls or mosques or temples.

Onward to equality,
Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Washington, Connecticut, USA.

And kudos to CT on the one year anniversary of its marriage equality law.


New video debunking urban legends about the Bible and homosexuality:


of course our country is ruled by equal protection and due process, but misinformation about the Bible is all too rampant, and results in voters choosing discrimination over equality.


Ah, to dream. I'll be voting for it, but it probably won't pass. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the heaving mass of idiots in this state actually experience what legally sanctioned discrimination is like. A straight couple applies for a divorce and is denied. Love it. And maybe in 2012 an initiative banning them from being schoolteachers? For the children's sake, of course...

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