Marriage Equality? Sure. But has anyone thought about Divorce Equality?

Kevin Muir, left; Sam Ritchie, right.   (Photo: Ryan Pfluger)

Kevin Muir, left; Sam Ritchie, right. (Photo: Ryan Pfluger)

Until recently, Kevin Muir and Sam Ritchie could have been poster boys for marriage equality: a gay couple so solid and beamish it would seem just plain ­ornery to keep them from the altar. Their entire lives together had been pointing toward legal union, in exactly the kinds of ways most people would find normal and completely unthreatening. They’d met in 1997, when Kevin,­ then 26, and Sam, then 20, both worked for a company that produced the Boston–to–New York aids bike ride. An office flirtation quickly turned to love, former boyfriends on each side were ditched, and within three months, “as New York real estate forces you to do,” Sam recalls, “we had to move out of our old apartments and move in together, and that was it.”

But what happens when you realise you made a mistake?  

From “I do” to “I’m done” is a well-­traveled road—for straight couples. When their legal marriages are over, they pretty much know they will need a legal divorce. But for gay couples, the promise of marriage is still so new and incomplete that the idea of matrimonial courts, equitable settlements, and all the rest barely registers. How do you process the undoing of a bond that until a moment ago in history you were not allowed to form?

It’s not a subject that marriage-equality groups tend to trumpet on their websites, but gay couples are at the start of a divorce boom. One reason is obvious: More couples are eligible.

Another reason for the coming boom is that while first-wave gay marriages have proved more durable than straight ones …  that’s not expected to last. Most lawyers I spoke to assume that the gap will soon vanish, once the backlog of long-term and presumably more stable gay couples have married, leaving the field to the young and impulsive.

So do gay divorces look any different?

Already, the data suggest that there are hundreds of gay ­divorces each year. Some are vividly acrimonious; some, like Kevin and Sam’s, just sad and confusing. Kevin doesn’t even accept Sam’s version of the events that led to their breakup. For him, it had little to do with the [dog] adoption.

When Kevin’s ­fifteen-year-old dog, which had lived with the couple from the beginning of their relationship, died in December 2010, they disagreed about getting a new one. Sam thought that having a little more space in the apartment, and a breather from always needing to come home to take care of a pet, would be good for the relationship. But for Kevin, the relationship was already over; by the following winter, he had joined ­OkCupid­ and was “moving on.” At Heavenly Angels Animal Rescue in Queens, he selected two Chihuahuas and told Sam, “These are my dogs, not ours.”

And so the Chihuahuas slept in the bedroom with Kevin while Sam slept in the living room.

And that’s just the dog.  What about children?

Perhaps it is a sign of increasing equality that gay people are not only breaking [marriage] vows but also, like straight people, exploiting every loophole of the legal system to fashion a noose or pillory for their exes.

The most famous example involves two women, Donna M. and Beth R., who lived in New York, together raising two children born to Donna by alternative insemination. Donna and Beth got married in Toronto in 2004 but split up three years later; when Beth then filed for divorce, Donna sought to have the action dismissed on the grounds that they could not be considered legally married in a state that did not allow it. Had the court agreed with this hypocritical argument, which seemed to mock the fact of their Canadian marriage, Beth would have been prevented from seeking joint custody of the children, whom she had never legally adopted.

 

Source: New York Magazine  H/T:  The Dish

 


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  • Andy

    This is the problem with divorce. It’s always the Chihuahuas that get hurt

  • Andy

    I was also interested in the concept of consummation of marriage, especially as defined by the Catholic Church .

    According to Wiki ” Catholic canon law
    defines a marriage as consummated when the “spouses have performed
    between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable
    in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered
    by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.”

    Not that it bothers me, but I love watching people tie themselves in knots over concepts that they haven’t thought all the way through

    • JC

      Is that bondage or bestiality you’re talking about?

      JC

      • Andy

        I was specifically referring to the old-fashioned concept of sticking your penis into a vagina with the purpose of producing a child.

        • JC

          Kinky!

          JC

  • cows4me

    Yeah more horseshit. So if two gays shack up in NZ are they consider by law to be in a relationship? If so can one gay go the other for half the proceeds if they are together for 2 years? Gay marriage, pigs arse, they can’t even define their own relationships and neither does our law.

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