Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.


Testimony for Texas Bill Repealing Unilateral Divorce

Testimony for Texas Bill Repealing Unilateral Divorce

House Bill 3188 filed by Representative Matthew Krause

Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D.

April 26, 2021

I support the repeal of unilateral no-fault divorce. The public mistakenly believes that “no-fault” divorce means that two sensible people can dissolve their marriage, by mutual agreement, without a finding of fault. In reality, only about a quarter of divorces take place by mutual consent. This fact, not widely studied or appreciated, means that roughly 75% of divorces take place against the will of one of the parties.

This fact has the following consequences:


  • The most basic terms of the marriage contract can be violated without penalty.
  • Since there are no “marital faults,” adultery is not a “marital fault.” Therefore, an adulterous spouse can unilaterally end the marriage and have the legal right to contract another marriage with his or her paramour. The law supports the guilty spouse against the innocent spouse.
  • Marriage has been redefined from being presumptively permanent and sexually exclusive to being neither permanent nor sexually exclusive.
  • One party can drag the other party into court and have the assets of the family subject to division by the State.
  • The division of custody of children comes under the jurisdiction and control of the State.
  • The forced division of financial assets and child custody amounts to a serious penalty imposed by the State on a law-abiding citizen, simply at the request of their spouse.

The losses to children from divorce are staggering and well-documented. One survey of the literature cataloging the harms to children from divorce includes more than 300 footnotes. Another 25-year study shows that far from kids “getting over it,” the harms from divorce “crescendo” during adolescence and young adulthood. A few highlights from these surveys include these losses for children:

  • Diminished academic performance, including poorer grades and lower overall educational attainment.
  • Diminished mental and physical health outcomes, including greater likelihood of drug abuse and suicide.
  • Loss of stability of their relationships with their parents and their living arrangements.
  • Loss of their sense of identity and belonging.
  • Inability to trust.
  • Compromised ability to form stable and satisfying love relationships of their own.

These considerations lead me to support an end to unilateral no-fault divorce. No citizen should have the right to unilaterally inflict costs of this magnitude on their spouse and children without a finding of fault. No government should have a policy of always taking sides with the party who wants the marriage the least.

Through unilateral divorce, the legal system incentivizes disloyalty. This policy is unworthy of a free people and a great nation.

Dr. Morse’s Qualifications:

  • Taught economics at Yale and George Mason Universities for 15 years.
  • Author of six books on marriage, family and human sexuality.
  • Writings translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish and Chuukese, the native language of the Micronesian Islands.
  • Named one of the “Catholic Stars of 2013” on a list that included Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.
  • Campaign spokeswoman for California’s Proposition 8 in 2008.
  • Founder and President, The Ruth Institute, an international interfaith coalition to defend the family.

References:

Mark Regnerus, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), pg. 160-161, Figure 5.2, reports on a survey of 3,900 divorces, asking which party wanted the divorce. Only 27% of men and 24% of women said: “We both wanted it to end.” This is the only survey of which I am aware that even asks the question about mutual consent to divorce.

Patrick F. Fagan and Aaron Churchill, “The Effects of Divorce on Children,” Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Research Summary, January 11, 2012. This comprehensive 48-page survey contains over 300 footnotes.

Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, (New York: Hyperion, 2000.)

 


Former Lesbian Harmed by Sexual State

by The Ruth Institute Staff

A few years ago, The Ruth Institute analyzed the case of Lisa Miller, who fled the country with her biological daughter, to protect the daughter from the alleged abuse of Lisa’s former partner. Lisa, a former lesbian, was damaged and harmed by the Sexual State. Lisa's former partner used the power of the family courts to force Lisa to share custody with her, by redefining the "presumption of paternity" to the gender-neutral "presumption of parentage." Now Lisa Miller is back in the news – hoping to receive a presidential pardon.

 

The case is strange and disconcerting for anyone who is familiar with it. Lisa Miller (interviewed for her story in 2008 by Lifesite News) – had a difficult life: by the time she was seven she was paying the mortgage, making sure food was on the table, and dealing with her parents’ divorce. Due to that and her mother’s mental illness, she got addicted to speed, and when she was married, her husband introduced her to alcohol. After a failed suicide attempt while recovering from alcoholism in the hospital, she was transferred to a psych ward.

 


While in the psych ward her therapists decided, without consulting her husband, that the reason she had so many struggles was because she was a lesbian. Clearly, they told her, the struggles she was facing came from difficulties “coming out.” Later, after divorcing her husband, she followed their advice.

 

The therapists encouraged her to be a lesbian (rather than working out her relationship with her husband), and told her that even if her first relationship with a woman didn’t work out (it didn’t), that doesn’t mean that the second one wouldn’t (it didn’t either).

 

The incredible thing was that she had all of this childhood trauma (what 7 year-old should be balancing checkbooks and taking speed?) that the therapists hardly delved into and didn’t really discuss with her. Talking a patient into a sexual identity based on the therapists’ hunch, and disconnected from the facts of the patient’s case, seems like it might be malpractice.

 

This also brings up another question about the immutability of sexual preference. After both of her failed relationships with different women, and the abusive, though longer-term relationship with Janet Jenkins, she decided that actively living a lesbian lifestyle wasn’t for her (not to mention her doubts about her sexual preference during that span of time). Can sexual preference be immutable if people’s sexual preference changes? If sexual preference is immutable for some people but not others, how is the law to deal with a category like that?

 

Lisa’s life became more difficult as she moved in with, and later became joined in a civil union with, Janet Jenkins. Lisa said, “Janet and I did not have a typical relationship.We were together – however, there was rarely any intimacy.Maybe once or twice a year and this was consistent throughout the relationship.I personally did not feel that way.This upset Janet a great deal and a lot of the abuse centered around that, as well, with name-calling and things like that… I actually, ended up leaving her in 1999 because the relationship had turned violent”

 

While many of us may be confused as to why Lisa might stay in a relationship that became more and more abusive, Lisa explained it in terms of a comfort zone. “For me, being with her, and this is going to sound weird, but it was like a comfort zone because I was used to being abused growing up… with women, what I was trying to do was trying to recreate a mother/daughter bond that I never had.”

 

After Lisa and Janet got back together, they moved to Vermont and obtained a civil union in 2000. In 2001 Lisa decided to have a daughter via artificial sperm donation. Janet generally maintained that she wasn’t interested in the child, and was not helpful during the pregnancy. The birth certificate lists only Lisa Miller as the parent.

 

According to Lisa, even though Jenkins was granted some parental rights after the dissolution proceedings began (though they lasted more than 5 years). Jenkins’ involvement with the child was minimal, even skipping the court ordered dates for visitation.

 

As far as the sordid allegations of the proceedings go, what Lisa Miller alleges Jenkins did isn’t pretty. She recounts that her daughter said that Jenkins would bathe naked with her (as a 5 year-old girl!), and that her daughter would come back from the few visits she did have and mime committing suicide. After that, Lisa cut off visits, and eventually fled the country to protect her daughter from an allegedly abusive and erratic ex-partner.

 

Dr. Morse said of this heartbreaking case, “Lisa Miller was one of the early victims of the Sexual State. Her case convinced me that redefining marriage would redefine parenthood in ways that few people were taking seriously. Lisa Miller entered into a civil union with another woman and had a child through an anonymous sperm donor. Lisa no doubt believed that she was the mother of the child. The government redefined parenthood, right out from under her. She had no idea that by entering into a civil union, she had given parental rights to the other woman, something that does not happen in stepparent situations.

 

“When those visits became abusive, Lisa tried to prevent them. The bias of the court in favor of the non-parent was so strong and the power of the family court so arbitrary, that Lisa could not protect her child. She fled the country with her daughter. She had the assistance of two brave Mennonite pastors and a Christian businessman.

 

“I support a presidential pardon for Lisa Miller, and for Philip Zodhiates, Timothy Miller and Kevin Miller.”

 

Support Lisa Miller by signing the petition at LifeSite News today!


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