One of the things that the marriage equality fight has exploded into my consciousness is the idea that Divorce isn’t that-thing-you-hope-never-happens-in-your-marriage, or even that-thing-you’re-glad-exists-for-couples-that-need-it. Instead, I’ve realized that it is, in fact, an organized legal system for ending one of the most all-powerful contracts most of us will ever enter into. (That, for the uninitiated, is the marriage contract, something most of us are not wise enough to really truly read up on. See past APW discussions of pre-nuptial agreements for raging discussion on that contract.) New York Magazine‘s cover article on Divorce Equality: When Gay Marriage Ends does an excellent job of both helping us navigate through the mechanics of the next frontier of civil rights, and wrapping our heads around what divorce actually means, in both a human and a legal sense. An excerpt from the article:
Divorce, one lawyer tells me, “provides a forum with rules and guidelines to keep people from giving in to their very worst impulses.” For gay couples, though, the Byzantine chaos of current law can yield grotesque results. The problems arise from two main sources: differences among the states in their laws concerning gay relationships, and differences between the states and the federal government, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, in their treatment of taxes, pensions, inheritance, and other transfers that may figure in settlements. You needn’t be a “marriage tourist”—one of the many couples who trekked from jurisdiction to jurisdiction to wed repeatedly as marriage became legal in each—to get caught in the flypaper.