The Right-Wing Agenda: Not Entirely Awful

« February 2005 »

One thing I'm frequently asked, as I'm stopped on the street by crazed cartoon nerds, is if, in my unceasing attempt to fire my "contra-grain mindshots"* all over the Internet, is there anything at all that I actually like?

And the answer is, of course there is. I like tons of things. This just isn't the place where I talk about them. But in an attempt to stem the unmitigated tide of negativity, or at least pause for a second, let me mention one part of the right-wing agenda that I like. No, like's not strong enough. I adore it.

What do I adore? "Covenant marriage". I think it's a fabulous idea, and I hope all fifty states adopt it, so that two people who feel that their love will last forever can enter, on a strictly voluntary basis, a form of marriage that's extremely difficult to get out of. And as long as covenant marriages remain voluntary, and don't carry benefits above and beyond those of regular marriages, I think they're great.

Because nothing brings a smile to my face like stupid people fucking themselves over for their pet cause. It's the perfect Dumb Trap. Completely voluntary, completely redundant, and has an excellent chance of biting you on the ass and making you miserable.

For those who are unaware, "covenant marriage" is a conservative legal construct, currently in place in three states. To nobody's surprise, these three states are not Vermont, Massachusetts, and California, but rather Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana. The covenant marriage drastically restricts the circumstances under which a divorce can be granted to things like abuse, imprisonment for a felony, or living apart for two full years. Also adultery, which I presume would cover either human or porcine extramarital encounters.

Arkansas also includes "habitual drunkenness", in recognition of the unique fact that residents of Arkansas happen to live in Arkansas.

"Covenant marriage" sees divorce as a problem. An easy out for lazy couples who can't hack the "hard work" of maintaining a marriage. Which is real easy to say right up until the moment you know you can't stand to be around your spouse for one more frickin' day. It's that point, that instant, when all these conservative, god-fearing, straight-marriage-loving covenant types realize they're completely stuck unless she hits them or screws around on them... that's the moment that makes "covenant marriage" all worthwhile.

These people so rarely get to reap the rewards of their own stupidity. Usually, it's the rest of us that suffer. It's the rest of us that can't go to the art exhibit. It's the rest of us that can't marry our same-sex partner. It's the rest of us that have to watch commercials for Blue Collar TV. But with a "covenant marriage", the only people who suffer are the people who were dumb enough to believe their own hype and sign up. What's not to like?

If two people want to be together, their marriage will last, whether it's "covenant" or otherwise. And if they don't want to be together, or can't be together, all the legal jiggery-pokery you lay on top of them won't reignite love, or force people into compatibility. You will, however, make a bunch of self-righteous Southerners miserable, sullen, and bitter, so keep up the great work!

Covenant marriage was most recently in the limelight because of the Huckabees - the governor of Arkansas (Mike Huckabee) and his wife (Janet), about whose last name all the jokes have been made, and made, and made, and made. They signed the law, and then converted their marriage of 30 years to a covenant marriage. Having a regular marriage didn't seem to stop them for the first thirty years, so it's almost as if they were making a meaningless, empty gesture to promote a conservative social agenda, but what the hell. Huckabee explained his support for covenant marriage thusly:

"It is easier to get out of a marriage than a contract to buy a used car." - which, in case you were feeling guilty about celebrating the self-inflicted misery of these people, should assuage your conscience. Because even assuming it's true, which I'm suspicious of, maybe comparing marriage to the acquisition of property isn't the best way to go during your Valentine's Day "Arkansas Celebration of Marriage".

So enjoy your "covenants", and take strength from the fact that as you struggle and weep and chew your own leg off to get out of the trap you built and baited with your own hands, we will all be watching. And snickering.

*I have a general policy of not alloting any space in the actual column for people who are grumpy about previous columns. I keep that stuff in the forum, where it belongs. But some pissed-off cartoon nerd wrote an incomprehensible paragraph on a message board somewhere that called my column "contra-grain mindshots", so I thought I'd share that bit of unintentional dipshit comedy with all of you.