Will There Soon be a Ban on Divorce in California?

Note: This is part 2 of our traveling series on state politics.  You can read about California’s governor and his tax problems here.

In response to the passage of California Proposition 8 – which banned the brief law allowing gay marriage in the state last November – one man is taking a stand on government involvement in marriage. Since the proposition was passed, the state, and nation, have seen an eruption of protest and legal challenges on the part of gay rights activists.

Joe Marcotte has filed with the California Attorney General’s office to include a ban on divorce in the state of California. The ballot proposition, entitled the “2010 California Marriage Protection Act,” aims to undermine the argument against gay marriage as a defense of traditional marriage.  As Marcotte told NPR,

“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.

California has a rich history of constitutional amendments, and is often called one of the most pure forms of direct democracy in the world. Californians voted on 21 state amendments or referendums in 2008 alone; Since 1911 voters have seen 1142 propositions in front of them.   On issues ranging from the addition of a “none of the above” option on the ballot to universal health care, Californians change the language of the constitution nearly every time they go to the polls.

In order to get a proposition on the ballot that changes the constitution a person simply has to pay a registration fee ($200 which is refunded if the initiative makes the ballot) and collect signatures of registered voters equal to 8% of voters for the last gubernatorial election.  This is nearly 700,000 registered voters.  Because of the risk of fake names, duplicate signers, and any other problems associated with a petition, professional petitioners aim for double this count.

And, yes, there are professional petitioners.  A multimillion dollar business, individuals are paid per signature to stand in front of grocery stores, universities, and public places often not caring about the issues they are petitioning and regularly presenting conflicting petitions.  This is not exactly what progressive reformers had in mind a hundred years ago.

Marcotte’s recent national exposure has given this petition new energy and funding.  With the LGBT community planning an amendment in 2012 to reverse Proposition 8 rather than trying in 2010, the addition of this “anti-divorce” amendment would prove a point.  While likely to be deemed unconstitutional and impractical, the amendment will point out to California and the nation that there is no validity to the argument for “preserving traditional marriage.”

By Emma Sandoe



Filed under Human Rights

13 responses to “Will There Soon be a Ban on Divorce in California?

  1. The naked hypocrisy of those who seek to ban gay marriage on the grounds that the recognition of gay marriage will in some way “undermine” traditional marriage could not be more prominently on display than is the case with respect to the personal lives of some of those who have campaigned the hardest against gay marriage. Newt Gingrich (a thrice married serial adulterer) served one of his wives with divorce papers as she lay in the hospital, recovering from a cancer surgery; he divorced another wife after she was diagnosed as suffering from multiple sclerosis; and in both cases, court papers revealed that he had left them for much younger mistresses. This man pontificated at length about the “judicial arrogance” of the seven Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court after this Court held — unanimously — that the Iowa constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process compelled the recognition of gay marriages on the same terms as heterosexual marriages (Varnum v. Brien (2009)) (this paragon of family values saw nothing wrong in promoting legislation that robbed his lesbian sister, Candace, of the right to marry). Bob Barr — also thrice married — authored the grotesque “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), notwithstanding the fact that he was unable to keep any of his three marriages together for more than a few years at a time, and notwithstanding the fact that he had funded an abortion for his second wife whilst promoting a complete ban on abortion (let’s also mention his being photographed licking whipped cream from the breasts of a stripper at a fundraiser, notwithstanding his prosecutorial zeal in the Bill Clinton impeachment fiasco). Sonny Bono — also thrice married — promoted the DOMA, costing him his relationship with his lesbian daughter, Chastity, before skiing into a tree whislt high on hydrocodone.

    These moral prostitutes have the unmitigated gall to do everything in their power to rob a sizeable segment of the American population of a right so basic that the majority of people don’t give it a second thought — on the grounds that the recognition of that right, for that segment of the population, will in some way (never properly discussed or explained) diminish the institution of heterosexual marriage…

    The sad outcome of California’s Proposition 8 last year, and Maine’s Question One this year, reveals clearly why basic rights should never be subject to the workings of the referendum process. This process allows those individuals who are motivated by nothing less than naked cruelty to inflict incalculable and lasting damage on a minority of the populace…

    The two lawyers who have filed suit in federal court against Proposition 8 — Ted Olsen and David Boies — could not be further apart in terms of their general ideology. Yet with respect to this issue, they are united. “Law is about justice, not bumper stickers,” they write in papers seeking to overturn Proposition 8.

    Those simple words so eloquently say it all.


  2. I agree with this concept…The bible thumpers wanna deny equality under the guise of protecting “traditional marriage”…Fine.

    Lets see just how serious they are about “protecting” “traditional marriage” when their right to divorce their mates no longer exists.

    If I was a california resident, I would gladly vote for passage of this amendment.

  3. Puma

    Holy Alimony was meant to be between one man and one woman.

  4. Jenny

    I worked a phone tree, donated money and time, stood on corners with No on 8 signs, and did everything I could to fight that evil amendment. I was depressed when it passed, but I believe in time it will be overturned. I am a woman happily married to a man in California, and I am passionately in favor of marriage equality.

    Certainly I have made the argument many times, that adultery and divorce are bigger threats to marriage than two men or two women in love, but frankly it was rhetorical.

    It is clear to me that if you put something stupid on the ballot, for instance an amendment that takes away rights, it just might pass, and that is determined not by what is right, but by who spends more money. Prop 8 was a perfect example of this.

    I understand the argument presented above, and truly appreciate the aesthetics of it, but this would be a terrible thing to put on the ballot. It might pass. Any any diminution of rights is a bad thing. (Although, in this case it would be funny.)

    The ballot is not the place to make rhetorical arguments. Eventually, we will achieve marriage equality, and then it will be someone else’s rights that are in danger, and we’ll fight again. As Pres. Jackson said, “Eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.” He didn’t suggest playing roulette with people’s rights as a way to achieve the same end.

  5. Natalie Munn

    Emma, you are on target when you write that the proposed ammendment ” will point out to California and the nation that there is no validity to the argument for “preserving traditional marriage”. ” That sounds about right to me! Committed same sex couples should have the opportunity to enjoy the same legal rights and benefits that married couples enjoy. Of course, if the divorce ban goes into effect we’ll all have to think of another way to deal with unfaithful partners, maybe the shakespearean way? With a little humour ?

  6. Pingback: Ban on Divorce in California? | PlanetRomeoBlog And Guys4men

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  8. Matt

    I would be glad to stop divorce! I typically vote Republican and am a Catholic who believes 100% everything the Catholic Church teaches. And I hate it when people act conservative but do nothing to help support families by keeping the institution of marriage together. Ronald Reagan was no conservative when he voted for no-fault divorce in Cali. and no true conservative would defend it.

  9. Catholic

    Catholic who believes 100% everything the Catholic Church teaches. And I hate it when people act conservative but do nothing to help support families by keeping the institution of marriage together. Ronald Reagan was no conservative when he voted for no-fault divorce in Cali. and no true conservative would defend it.

  10. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

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