Saturday, December 5, 2009
John Marcotte: "Don't Stop Gay People From Getting Married...Stop Straight People From Getting Divorced"--Saturday Journal
John Marcotte captured my attention yesterday. An article in the Chicago Tribune (Dec. 4, 2009) profiled Marcotte who has been campaigning to introduce a bill into California law: the 2010 California Marriage Protection Act. He has been granted certification for this "divorce ban" initiative by the California Secretary of State, and it seems to be picking up steam. It is an interesting proposal, a test of those Californians who successfully rallied to ban same-sex marriage: will those same voters, who used the sanctity-of-marriage rationale to pass Proposition 8, use the same argument to pass an anti-divorce bill?
Marcotte is an unlikely ally but a welcome one; he is married with two kids, a writer and Web designer, who voted against Proposition 8 and sensed the hypocrisy of its passage.
One's initial reaction is one of amusement, because there is something mischievous about his initiative. It mocks those who use self-righteous arguments that covertly sanction homophobia, and challenges them to stand by their convictions if their own freedoms are in danger of being curtailed. Even his web site, rescuemarriage.org, offers articles with zinger headlines like, "You Said 'Til Death Do Us Part...You're Not Dead Yet."
Although he claims to be in earnest, the satirical tone of his web site suggests that he's just making a point. Judging by the disparaging comments he has received suggests he's already posing a threat to the very people he's challenging.
One thing that makes me uncomfortable is a growing alliance...if alliance is the right word...between gay activists on the one hand, who are of the same mind as Marcotte, and seek to use this initiative to expose hypocrisy (and demonstrate the stupidity of Prop.8); and on the other hand, members of the religious right who honestly and without irony oppose divorce.
I don't believe the bill has a real chance of passing. The Hollywood elite, a hotbed of high-profile divorce, may have enough clout to kill it. And to be effective, wouldn't the bill need to go further in its perversity, and refuse to recognize divorces performed in other states?--so that, in the eyes of California law, if you are divorced elsewhere but move to California, you still have marital responsibilites to your ex. (In the same way same-sex marriages legally performed in one state may not be recognized as legal in another.)
On the other hand, if it does pass, there could be a huge backlash that would set back the cause of gay marriage even further. This law could be used as another weapon in the argument for the "sanctity" of marriage.
Yet I applaud Marcotte and his cause, for using a creative means for keeping the hope of gay marriage alive. His crusade, which he mounted this past summer, will be intriguing to follow.