Thursday, June 12, 2014

The New Shotgun Wedding

As a Libertarian at heart, I couldn't care less about who is marrying whom in Wisconsin.  But I do have a couple of concerns about the wave of same-sex marriages taking place this week in the wake of Judge Barbara Crabb's ruling to strike down the state constitutional amendment banning the practice (which I voted against for the same reason that Representative Gregg Underheim expressed at the time: this is not what a constitution is to be used for).

First off, the rush to tie the knot is giving this process a sort of Las Vegas-drive-thru-wedding-chapel kind of feel.  Marriage ceremonies are being held in hallways and on stairwells--mostly out of fear that if the parties involved wait another two minutes a different federal judge will swoop in and rule that their marriage license is now invalid.  Same-sex marriage has become the new "shotgun wedding"--with "let's do it before my baby bump start showing" or "quick, before we sober up" being replaced with "there's another court hearing scheduled for Friday--we have to do it now!"

I would think that a truly "equal" marriage would mean it starts off the same as nearly every other in society.  One of the (unnecessary) arguments that was put forth in past debates over gay marriage is that it would be "good for the economy"--as thousands of couples planned elaborate ceremonies and the rest of us would be out buying wedding gifts.  But where are the wedding parties with 12-bridesmaids dresses?  All of the wedding planners having to deal with two Bridezillas (both men)?  And where are all of the extra bookings for Cher impersonators?

A more serious concern is that state law is currently ill-prepared to deal with same-sex divorce--particularly as it pertains to custody of children.  I know we would all like to think that the couples tying the knot this week will stay together forever.  But things change and divorce is a 50-50 likelihood.  Under current state law, two people of the same gender cannot claim parental rights to a child.  And with biological rights being a bit "difficult" in these cases--gay couples currently with kids who choose to divorce will see the partner with the parental rights have the ability to shut the other one out--with no legal recourse.  In states where same-sex marriage has been legal for some time, those laws have been amended--but judges here just can't say "well, that's the way they do it in California--so that's the way we'll do it here."

The better process would be the establishment of a date--beyond all of the appeals and counter-suits--where Judge Crabb's ruling should take full effect.  Remember, when Prohibition was repealed, the bars didn't open the next day.  There was a date set that the new amendment would go into effect--and the brewers and distillers prepared their products with that day in mind.  That would give lawmakers the time needed to address the changes and couples the time (without any further fear of having another court case take away the marriage) to hold  ceremonies equal to what their straight friends have had for centuries.

No comments:

Post a Comment