By Stephen Wissink
Quick, someone call the hotline at Stop Torture Now.
The human rights group needs to protest the intentions of two state Senators in North Carolina who want to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon every unhappily married couple across the state that wants to divorce and move on with life.
These two high-and-mighty-moralists from the ‘burbs of Bubbabville have proposed legislation that would force divorcing couples to wait a full two years – more than 1.05 million minutes for you clock watchers – before they could even file the papers in court.
And you thought waiting for 5 o’clock to come on a sunny Friday afternoon is a dreadfully long ordeal.
To no one’s surprise, state Senators Austin Allran and Warren Daniel are Republicans who think nothing of meddling in your private life. They believe it is their sacred duty under the guidance of God to force couples to stay miserably married for as long as possible.
Is your spouse a drunk with a black belt who brandishes a loaded assault rifle after too much liquor? Too bad, you’re stuck for another two years.
Is he a pervert who peeps through the windows of teenagers and cruises adult video stores for random hookups? Hey, you married the bum, now suck it up and make it work.
Being the geniuses that they are, though, Allran and Daniel have thought up a solution to overcome these problems. See a shrink and watch your worries disappear.
During their two year legal separation, couples would be required complete classes to improve their communication skills and resolve matrimonial conflict. As if a couple of feel good sessions with a clinical social work is going to get your lyin’, cheatin’, scoundrel of a spouse to change.
I have my doubts. Most divorcing couples I know already have communicated two essential ideas: He’s an ass, she’s a bitch and they’ve already resolved that it’s time to move on.
If approved, this new legislation would create further craziness in the arena of marriage and divorce, which in this state are strange enough and are still shrouded by laws enacted in Victorian times. According to legal history, the “privilege” of marriage here in the Tarheel State is to provide men with “legal access to habitual intercourse,” which in turn forces wives to provide sex whenever their husbands want. The exception, of course was “consensual fellatio and cunnilingus,” which to date are still felonies in this state.
I’ve yet to meet the two senators in question, but I suspect that increasing the penalties for domestic sexual assault isn’t high on their legislative agenda.
As for divorce laws, ours are among the most onerous in the nation. A couple has to be legally separated “emotionally and physically” for one year before they can file for divorce. Having sex with someone else during this period is adultery, a misdemeanor. The couple cannot even privately agree that it’s OK to sleep with others during the separation because that would constitute a “conspiracy” to break the law.
They can, however, legally have “isolated incidents of sexual intercourse” with each other during the separation. I kid you not. I knew one couple from my own neighborhood where the woman boasted she would “toss him a blowie” every Saturday in exchange for mowing the yard.
Allran and Daniel would end this. Their bill bans sex of any kind between the couple during their two year separation, regardless of how tall the grass is getting. Any violations could result in the judge forcing the couple to resume marital relations or, at the least, restart the two-year clock.
Unfortunately, the ramifications of this bill could prove violent or even deadly.
Beatings, stabbings and shooting among couples do, in fact, happen far too often and the hostilities of divorce proceedings generally inflame already volatile emotions. Children regularly are used as pawns in divorce proceedings and both their physical and mental well-beings are at stake.
“The sanctity of marriage, in their view, is more important than a woman or a man remaining in an abusive situation that could quite possibly end in murder suicide,” comments Janet Shan for the public policy watchdog group, Hinterland Gazette. “It’s mind boggling that forcing a woman to stay in a failed and toxic relationship is more important than supporting gun control legislation.”
Adding another year to the proceedings would give the mean spirited amongst us more time to manipulate the system and make their spouse’s life a living hell. Such belligerent manipulation would not surprise me in this state, which is known for its extremes.
For example, North Carolina remains one of only 10 states that still have “crimes against nature” laws on the books. As recently as five years ago, police in the capital city of Raleigh arrested two gay men on felony charges for engaging in sexual relations, even though they were in the privacy of their own homes.
You can see how the lunatic fringe here can manipulate the law and, in a very real way, cause harm to others who have done nothing immoral or wrong.
In this case, these two lawmakers have earned the right to be labeled lunatics who unfortunately wield real power and seek to impose a third world culture on the rest of us.
I’m not alone in this assessment, though. Thurman, another commentator of BlueNC, agrees and coined the phrase "Tarheel Taliban," a very apt description for Allran and Daniel.
“Forcing adults who are ready to end their relationship to stay married a day longer than necessary only makes a bad situation worse,” Thurman writes, “and if they have children, as my first wife and I do, they are the ones who suffer most.
“If Senators Allran and Daniel want to impose their personal morality on the people they represent I would respectfully suggest that perhaps they should move to Afghanistan. I hear the Taliban is always looking for new recruits.”
- Stephen Wissink is a former journalist who lives in Raleigh and writes on a variety of subjects for his blog, "Marginalia," at http://stephenwissink.wordpress.com One recent post took the GOP to task for turning "North Carolina" into "North Cruelina."