The Deconstruction of Marriage, Part 1:

The Law and Economics of Unilateral No-Fault Divorce A key argument being advanced to support the rewriting of U.S. marriage laws is that granting legal status, on par with marriage, to same-sex couples will have no effect on marriage as an institution, nor upon Americans who choose, or have already chosen, the natural pattern of uniting as husband and wife. Yet, a look at the record of what has transpired in the wake of a key change in the law during the 1970s—the advent of no-fault divorce—suggests that supporters of so-called same-sex marriage seem unaware of the sea change that was achieved, with little opposition, that radically altered the nature and practice of marriage in the United States. Since Governor Ronald Reagan of California signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law in 1970, no-fault divorce has forced a departure from American law and economics that had, based on English law precedent and nineteenth-century contract theory, encouraged spouses to take advantage of free-market efficiencies of a lifelong marital household division of labor. Nowadays, brides and grooms are denied the opportunity of making their marital vow a full and complete pledge, as neither bride nor groom can abjure the alternative of arbitrarily fleeing the marriage. That built-in menace is omnipresent and legally unavoidable. Reasonably enough, “divorce insurance” has emerged: Wives pursue careers for fear of spousal abandonment. Denied reinforcement by full-time homemaking wives, breadwinning husbands are rendered the weaker employment-market competitors against career women. Consequently, couples who desire the type of life-partnership marriage that was common before 1970 have been disempowered, as the law actually discourages husband and wife from teaming to build one. A precept underlying both the defense of no-fault divorce—and the more recent push for same-sex marriage laws—is the feminist notion that our knowledge of our world, and our world its
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