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.
Photo Credit: Michael Smith via Flickr