Ending "Disposable Marriage"Jul. 07, 2009
In yesterday's News Stand, we posted a commentary from CNN.com entitled, "Let's End Disposable Marriage," by retiring Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. It is a startling piece about an issue that affects nearly every American family — divorce — yet is seldom addressed by the political class. In her column, Justice Sears wrote:
The coupling and uncoupling we've become accustomed to undermines our democracy, destroys our families and devastates the lives of our children, who are not as resilient as we may wish to think. The one-parent norm, which is necessary and successful in many cases, nevertheless often creates a host of other problems, from poverty to crime, teen pregnancy and drug abuse.
It has become too easy for people to walk away from their families and commitments without a real regard for the gravity of their decision and the consequence for other people, particularly children.
These are the words not of a "right winger," but of someone who has been mentioned as a potential Barack Obama nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court and who was a target of the Georgia Republican Party and Christian Coalition during her 2004 re-election. She has seen the catastrophic results of unilateral divorce both personally and professionally, writing, "As a judge I have long held a front row seat to the wreckage left behind by our culture of disposable marriage and casual divorce."
The tide is turning on the issue of no-fault divorce. Last fall, a poll found that 62 percent of Californians do not think that either spouse should be allowed to terminate marriage at any time for any reason. This from the state that gave us no-fault divorce in the first place! It is time that we address this issue head on, both in the church and in the arena of public policy.
Few can doubt the harm that unilateral divorce has brought to American families. Still, many think this is one of those issues where the most one can do is throw up their hands. It's not.
The Family Foundation has proposed that mutual consent must be required for a couple to divorce when children are involved — meaning that one spouse cannot simply walk away without cause. Unfortunately, this proposal has met with little support from either political party in Richmond. In fact, when presented, most elected officials we've talked with have run for cover. But we will continue to advocate for this proposal until it receives a fair and complete hearing in the General Assembly and becomes law.
We can talk all we want about fixing our tax code to help families. We can work toward "fixing" health care and all of the other economic challenges we face. But the fact is that we will not adequately address the issue of saving the American family until we address the issue of unilateral divorce. Until we elect representatives with the courage to tackle this issue we will be doing little to save the next generation from the same devastating consequences that we seek to overcome today.