Recently in Marriage Category

August 31, 2009

Health Care Costs Encourage Divorce--For Economic Purposes Only

We're all familiar with the concept of a "marriage of convenience," where partners marry for reasons more practical than romantic. But in the current economy there's now an increase in what could be seen as a divorce of convenience--or even of necessity, with marriage becoming another casualty of the broken health care system.

A New York Times opinion piece this week illustrates the most common scenario: contentedly married spouses encountering the certainty of future health care costs that they simply can't afford discover that divorce is the only way to avoid financial ruin. In this case, a middle-aged husband has early-onset dementia, with a prognosis of degenerative mental function until he becomes unable to care for himself and must be institutionalized. On the advice of a social worker, the hospital where he receives care, and an attorney, his wife filed for divorce. The alternative was losing all of their joint and her separate assets as his health care gradually becomes more expensive. The wife continues to live with and care for her husband, but legally, they are not married and she is not responsible for his medical costs.

Medical costs are by far the leading cause of personal bankruptcy, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Medicine.
April 15, 2009

It's True: Baseball is Good for Relationships! Divorce Rates Lower in Baseball Cities

I knew it! Baseball is a healthy, positive outlet that is good for people -- and their marriages. Business Week reports that a recent study sponsored by the University of Denver Center for Marital and Family Studies concludes that cities that wanted, and got, major league baseball teams had a 28 percent lower divorce rate than cities that wanted but didn't get teams.

Here's an example: In 1990, Denver's divorce rate was six divorces per 1,000 people. By 2000 -- seven years after the Colorado Rockies arrived in Denver -- the divorce rate had declined 20 percent to 4.2 per 1,000 people. (During the same period, the national divorce rate dropped only 15 percent.) Similar results were found in Tampa Bay (17 percent drop following the Rays' arrival) and Phoenix (30 percent drop when the Diamondbacks took up residence at the BOB).

Howard Markman, a psychology professor at the University of Denver, thought the correlation might be because "[g]oing to a baseball game and not talking about relationship issues, but rather having fun and talking as friends, is one of the ways to protect and preserve love."

I never heard it better told -- and maybe this is one reason my parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary. For me, it's just one in a long list of reasons that I say, take me out to the ball game!

November 17, 2008

More Virtual Divorce: Second Life Leads to First Divorce

s_keyboard.jpg

This is a followup on a recent post about divorce in the virtual world. This time, a UK woman is divorcing her husband after she caught him canoodling with another woman in the virtual world called "Second Life." Let's be clear here -- the other woman was not real in the sense of having a physical existence, but was a character in an online game in which players create a parallel universe for themselves, complete with jobs, homes, and activities. Apparently, those activities can include romance -- in fact, the couple involved in this case first met and married in Second Life, according to the UK paper The Telegraph. (And I'm still curious about why so many of these stories come out of the UK...) However, they also married legally in the physical universe, and now they're divorcing, with the husband planning to move on and marry his new sweetheart -- also in the real world -- despite the fact he hasn't yet met her.

And they say gays are making a mockery of marriage.

But seriously, online infidelity is a real risk for married couples, says the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. I'm no marriage counselor, but it seems to me that one solution for that might be clear communiation up front with your spouse about what online behavior is acceptable and what you consider "cheating." Another could be to turn the computer off and have some real-life quality time with the person you've pledged your life to. Just a thought.

May 19, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in California!

On May 15th, after four years of litigation and many decades of discrimination, California became the second
U.S. state to provide full marriage equality for all of its citizens. Starting June 14, same-sex couples all over California will begin tying the matrimonial knot and celebrating a new summer of love.

In a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled on the case challenging the state's marriage statutes, concluding that "in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

The Court's 120-page opinion -- click here for a press release boiling it down -- analyzes California Family Code Section 308.5 (also known as Prop. 22, or the Knight Initiative) which states that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California; reviews the history and scope of the constitutional right to marry in California; and addresses the equal protection issues raised by the limitation of the word "marriage" to opposite-sex couples.

About time! But despite this great victory for same-sex families, there is no rest for the weary. As the New York Times reports, right-wing groups are working to qualify a ballot measure for the November election that would enshrine marriage discrimination in the California Constitution by way of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. According to SFGate.com, "The constitutional amendment will qualify for the November ballot if officials determine that at least 694,354 of the [1.1 million signatures gathered] are valid, a decision due by mid-June." If passed, the measure would nullify last week's Supreme Court decision and eliminate marriage equality.

The answers to many common questions about what marriage equality means can be found here, at the website of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the lead counsel on the marriage cases.

March 5, 2008

California Supreme Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage

istock_000002843250xsmall.jpg

While the nation was focused on the big presidential primaries on March 4, California was also court-watching, as the California Supreme Court heard arguments in lawsuits seeking an end to discriminatory marriage laws in the Golden State.

Lawyers for the parties seeking marriage equality argued that it's unconstitutional to keep gays and lesbians from marrying a same-sex partner, while the opposing side countered that tradition and public opinion support continuing the current ban on same-sex marriage. The justices were very active in questioning both sides, and it's hard to tell what they're thinking, but to me it appeared that some of them, at least, were leaning toward ruling in favor of marriage equality for all California citizens. Their pointed inquiry into how same-sex marriage "undermines" heterosexual marriage certainly exposed the weakness in that particular bit of bigotry, and they also appeared to reject the notion that children always thrive when raised by biological parents of the opposite sex. (In fact, studies show that children of lesbians and gay men do just as well as kids with opposite-sex parents.)

We'll find out within 90 days what the justices are thinking -- that's the time limit for the court to rule. Lots more about the arguments and the issues in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times. And if you're up for nearly four hours of court-watching, you can see the argument on the California Channel's site under the link for "What's New." Finally, there's an interesting summary of the argument session at Leonard Link.

January 24, 2008

Al Gore Supports Same-Sex Marriage

del phyllis wedding

I would have expected it to be bigger news that Al Gore has come out (no pun intended) in favor of same-sex marriage. In a video statement on his website, current.com, Gore says that "gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women ... to join together in marriage." The Advocate today provides a written transcript of the video statement.

First the Mayor of San Diego, now the former Vice President, Academy Award-winner, and Nobel Laureate. Who's next? It most likely won't be one of the major Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom support marriage-lite in the form of civil unions. But we can always hope that Gore's eloquent expression of the reality of this issue gets their attention and the attention of the nation.

September 20, 2007

Same-Sex Marriage Loses in Maryland, Integrity Wins in San Diego

Maryland court prohibits same-sex marriage. On Monday, Maryland's highest court upheld a state law prohibiting same-sex partners from marrying. As reported in the Washington Post, Tuesday's decision overturned a 2006 lower court ruling that struck down the law limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The judges on Tuesday said that limiting marriage to a man and woman supports the state's interest in fostering procreation--not an unusual argument against same-sex marriage, but rather a ridiculous one when you consider that people well beyond childbearing years are not prohibited from marrying, nor are heterosexual couples quizzed about their childbearing intentions before marriage licenses are issued.

San Diego Mayor supports same-sex marraige. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mayor of San Diego did a sudden about-face on Wednesday when he reversed his earlier opposition to same-sex marriage and agreed to sign a City Council resolution supporting a challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban. In an emotional press conference, Mayor Jerry Sanders (a Republican and a former police chief) said that his adult daughter is a lesbian, and that he has come to believe that the separate-but-equal status of civil unions and domestic partnerships do not offer true equality to same-sex couples.

Speaking of his daughter and other gay and lesbian community members, including some of his staff, the Mayor said: "I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones -- for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."

A politician standing up for what is right, probably at the risk of his job -- always a nice thing to see.

To learn more about same-sex partnerships and their legal implications, read A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, by Attorneys Denis Clifford & Frederick Hertz, and Emily Doskow, legal editor.