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Kansas Takes the Sanctity of Marriage a Little Too Far

Kansas Takes the Sanctity of Marriage a Little Too Far

The Kansas legislature isn’t busy enough making it legal to discriminate against gay people. They are going to do whatever they have to make sure marriage in Kansas remains oppressive and exclusively hetero. Their new tactic? Eliminate no-fault divorce.

I know what you’re thinking, but I checked the calendar and it’s not 1950.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Keith Esau, a Republican (of course). People, apparently, can’t be trusted to do what’s best for their situation. If their marriage is having trouble, they need to work on it.

“No-fault divorce gives people an easy out instead of working at it,” Esau told The Wichita Eagle on Friday. “It would be my hope that they could work out their incompatibilities and learn to work together on things.”

OK, so that’s pretty patronizing. Esau obviously doesn’t see it that way, however. According to the Capital-Journal, he’s shocked — shocked, I say! — to find that this bill has garnered so much attention and controversy.

Really? He’s surprised that efforts to limit an individual’s ability to decide what relationships they want to cultivate is controversial? Tell me, Rep. Esau, do unicorns eat leaves made of stardust in your fantasy world?

Esau says that this bill will promote strong families. I guess. I mean, who wouldn’t want two parents who are married but miserable? Interestingly, while divorce might be traumatic in the short term, evidence suggests that the children of divorced parents bounce back. However, even the minor effects of trauma can be mitigated by just remaining good, supportive parents and minimizing the amount of conflict between the divorcing parents.

You know what doesn’t help with minimizing conflict? Forcing one spouse to prove the other was at fault for a failed marriage. Finger-pointing rarely ends well.

But there is something more fundamental at stake, and it’s something Rep. Jim Ward, a Democrat, zeroed in on. People should have the freedom to choose when to end relationships. Does anyone really get married with the intention of getting divorced? Perhaps, but so what? Marriage for mutual benefit used to be common. That seems like none of my business.

Moreover, human beings aren’t static. I’m not the same person I was when I was 18. I hope that I continue to grow so I’m not the same person at 40 or 50 that I am today. Life happens and changes you over time. If you’re lucky in your marriage, you’ve found someone who will grow with you. But none of us are prognosticators. We can only guess at what the future holds. Two people could be madly in love one day and out of love the next. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault.

Esau, of course, doesn’t think this is government overreach. He argues that since there are government benefits attached to marriage, it should be hard to get out of the obligation. Are we really going to condemn people to a life of misery, or, if not misery, a life they didn’t choose, simply because a group of people wholly disconnected with the situation doesn’t think they’re putting enough effort into their marriage? The decision to end a marriage is likely not an easy decision to make. We shouldn’t make it needlessly harder.

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Photo Credit: Michael Smith via Flickr

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152 comments

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9:44AM PST on Feb 19, 2014

Any one who has ever lived in Kansas would believe all of this could happen there. My parents were from Kansas and my Dad was always saying things about the the state and the way it was governed but I never really paid a lot of attention to it until they passed away and we had to deal with the state. What a pain that was and I'm glad it's all over.

5:37PM PST on Feb 18, 2014

damned neaderthals!

4:39PM PST on Feb 18, 2014

If you are not part of my marriage, then how do you know what I need to do? If you have not gone along while therapy is being applied, how do you know what I need to do? If my husband/wife beats the living daylights out of me (and this ain't uncommon anymore), how do you know what I need to do?

Stay out of my private life and I will stay out of yours. If not, it won't be pretty when the arguing ends.

8:30PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

I just saw on the news a story about Kansas passing legislation making corporal punishment legal in schools. Up to ten swats with a hand leading to redness and bruising. For me that is insane. To specify redness and bruising? Bruising is caused when damage is done to the body. If I were a kid in Kansas and received corporal punishment I would refuse to go back to that school. It sounds sadistic to me. I received in school suspensions for things I did not do when I was in school. Imagine if a kid is spanked to the point of bruising for something he didn't do. Kansas is a sick twisted place. I think they have lived through one to many tornadoes. You think they might want to consider if their god is trying to tell them something.

12:54PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

This is Kansas. Nothing more to say.

12:07PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

well you know they could just do away with marriage all together. would save a lot of expense , hassel , and bulls--t . men mature ?? ok when did this start , and how come no one told me ?? sheesh !! I know several couples who have been together 20 or 30 years plus without being legally chained to one another and for the most part there relationships are more secure than those I know who are legally chained. Catrina the star is mostly for lasting that long with one individual and the rest for the comments.

5:17PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

If you have to depend on government to protect your marriage, you must not have much of a marriage.
The only thing that can save a marriage is mutual respect.

4:39PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Aren't those weird Koch brothers also from Kansas? Must have something to do with the water there. Why would the government worry about people's marriage anyway? Weird, weird, weird..............

3:51PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

pam w.
It sounds to me like they already don't recognize any non-Christians.
I think the more important question is, how long will it be until the rest of the nation quits recognizing Kansas and other similarly minded states.

2:02PM PST on Feb 16, 2014

Thanks Mindy for the article. No doubt in my mind Dorothy and Toto would not be happy in Kansas any more.

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