The Supreme Court of the United States has recently found prohibitions on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional, and rendered gay marriage legal in all 50 states by majority decree. Dissenters from the majority opinion were opposed to the Court’s interpretation of its reach, with Justice Roberts writing ‘[w]hether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be’.
Same sax marriage is a good idea that heterosexual men have a vested interest in supporting, because it will be followed rapidly by same sex divorce, and possibly offer a solution to unfair marriage, divorce and child custody laws, which currently discriminate harshly against men in favor of women. Same sex divorce strips gender out of the equation, long used to justify legal discrimination against men. Feminist organizations in particularoppose equality when it comes to parenting after divorce, casting men as likely abusers of children, despite evidence that demonstrates women perpetrate most domestic violence against children, and children are more likely to be murdered by their mothers.
When children have two mothers or two fathers, it will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to cast one parent as negligent, abusive or undeserving on the basis of gender alone. A case will have to be made to prove allegations to justify reduced custody or access to the couple’s children, which would be the default under shared parenting as a legal standard. Currently, men must engage in expensive and time-consuming litigation to prove they are deserving of equal or primary custody, a situation that results in poor and working class men accepting unequal parenting because they cannot afford to litigate. Feminist writers advocate for poor mothers to remain single for the precise reason that the courts will refuse access to the fathers of their children on the basis of gender. Access to children under marriage is difficult; when men remain unmarried, it becomes almost impossible.
Courts are slowly evolving to enforce child custody arrangements and punish parents who refuse to abide by court orders, although it is not unusual for men to go years never seeing their children, while paying court mandated child support. Parental alienation has received attention in the press recently after Bill Hudson disowned his children with actress Goldie Hawn, whom he accuses of deliberately ‘poisoning’ his children against him. Parental alienation is made easier when mothers engage damaging and false stereotypes about fathers, a situation that will not exist for same sex parents. Courts may treat parental alienation more seriously when there are no sexist stereotypes to engage, and instead see alienation as the controlling and abusive behavior it is.
Same sex marriages also provide an opportunity to examine domestic violence laws that legally discriminate against men by assuming they are perpetrators on the basis of their gender alone. Same sex partnerships are more violent in general than heterosexual relationships, with lesbians reporting the highest rates of intimate violence. When violent spouses are both women, or both men, it becomes necessary to examine evidence to determine which spouse is legally responsible for the violence, and may increasingly lead to domestic violence being understood as a problem that is perpetrated and experienced by both spouses equally.
Same sex marriages have the potential to challenge laws and customs surrounding marriage, divorce, child custody and domestic violence that currently discriminate against men on the basis of gender. Straight men have much to gain from these relationships, which may provide a legal foundation to challenge laws that unfairly target and punish men, and their children.
[Ed. note: This post originally appeared at the Examiner and is reprinted here with permission.]