Washington Times, 1 April 2001,
Commentary section (Forum), p. B5.

The Great Divorce

Maggie Gallagher is right that a dialogue on marriage and child poverty
is long overdue [Commentary, March 7].

Yet she offers no more concrete method for restoring the married family
than those she criticizes.  If we believe that eliminating the marriage penalty
and promoting marriage "education" will exert more than a marginal impact
on the rates of divorce and out of wedlock birth, we are burying our head
in the sand.

Gallagher's own book, "The Abolition of Marriage," cites figures showing
80 percent of divorces are unilateral and describes divorce as a "shift in
power . . . in favor of the unfaithful" spouse.  It also involves a shift in
power in favor of the state, which encourages divorce because it allows
the state to insert its power into the private family, foremost by seizing
control over the children.

"No-fault divorce gave judges, at the request of one-half of the couple,
the right to decide when a marriage had irretrievably broken down," she
points out.  Judges are not only availing themselves of this right; they are
offering lucrative financial and emotional incentives to parents, usually
mothers, to request the divorce.  These incentives include virtually
automatic child custody and the power to expel, plunder and criminalize
the father.

By rewarding the spouse that files for divorce judges can increase the
business of their courts, as Charles Dickens predicted, and the scope
of their power.  They can also return enormous earnings to the attorneys,
psychotherapists, and others who fall within their patronage and have
a professional interest in increasing the volume of divorce litigation and
fatherless children.

The rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock birth have little to do with tax
laws or lack of education about the harm it does to children and
everything to do with government officials who have a vested interest in
forced divorce and father eviction.

The divorce industry has rendered marriage, in effect, a fraudulent
contract.  It is hardly surprising that those profiting from the fraud are
perverting the instruments of justice and creating an authoritarian
machine, centered on secret courts, to enforce their regime.  G.K.
Chesterton pointed out that the destruction of the family means the
destruction of freedom, and we now see the same courts that are ripping
apart families are increasingly ripping up the Bill of Rights, as any parent
who has ever been in family court can testify.

Until marriage is made an enforceable contract, there is little point in
preaching to young people to put their trust in it.  Young men in
particular who are lured into this scam can lose their children, their homes,
their freedom, and (in view of the skyrocketing suicide rate among divorce
fathers) even their lives.  It is hardly surprising that fewer and fewer are
being taken in.

More than anyone else, the people who must stand up and demand that
marriage be made an enforceable contract are fathers.  This does not
necessarily require "turning back the clock" to fault-based divorce.  It does
require the recognition that legal marriage confers constitutional rights on
fathers (and mothers) not to have their children taken away and turned into
wards of the state, in the absence of legal wrongdoing by their parents.

When the state becomes involved in its citizens' private lives by promoting
matters as personal as marriage and fatherhood, it is because we are not
confronting the real problem.  It is not necessary for government to promote
marriage.  It is only necessary for government to stop ripping it apart.

The writer teaches political science at Howard University.