Thursday, June 15, 2017

Divorce in the Time of Gay Marriage

I read an article yesterday by a lesbian who's in the process of divorcing her wife. According to the article, they moved in with each other on their third date and got married eight weeks later:
It was 2014, and we were making it official before marriage equality went nationwide. We weren't telling our parents about the ceremony, and we weren't paying more than $20 for the whole shebang. Our wedding had the urgency of a protest, one where I got to wear an ugly blue dress and chugged Guinness with my best friends.
Three years later, she and her wife have split up and are in the midst of the 6-month separation and divorce process. Predictably, she's used her disappointment over her marital break-up to disapprove of others in the LGBT communities:
But, at the risk of sounding bitter, I have to admit that I am also distrusting of the nonstop party. My experiences ultimately make me critical of queer assimilation narratives, the kind that mainstream Pride events love to hoist up: the lesbian stroller derby, the two white men at their expensive wedding, "Queers! They're Just Like Us!" The complicated human experiences of LGBTQ folks often come at the cost of producing images that heterosexuality will accept. In places like Chicago, most LGBTQ folks are allowed to thrive as long as they follow the same rules as their progressive, straight-identified allies.
I have many pet peeves, but queer assimilation isn't one of them. But I do have a problem when people around me -- and I've known a few -- treat marriage as a political act without considering that they're actually creating a new family. It bugs me much more when they bring kids into these marriages before deciding the the marriage itself has no legs. That didn't happen here, but I've seen that happen more than a few times as well in my life time.

 And I'm not terribly sympathetic when people complain about wait times before they can get divorced. Or when they complain about the money involved with getting divorced -- once again, not part of this essay. But I'm a believer in marriage. I think that it should be difficult to get out of marriage -- or at least not so easy that you're not forced to either wonder if it's worth it to get married or worth it to jump into another marriage right away.

So if you want to make a statement about marriage equality with your new boyfriend or girlfriend, why not do a flashy commitment ceremony? Or produce a vlog about it? Or write a book about it? Or go on a march about it? But wait until you've had enough time and exposure to your prospective spouse to make sure that you two have compatible goals, interests, and habits.

Our families are special. Our families are sacred. We need to treat them as such. Marriage equality might have political and legal roots, but our weddings themselves shouldn't be political acts.

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