Skip Navigation

The Christian right is coming for divorce next The Christian right is coming for divorce next

Some conservatives want to make it a lot harder to dissolve a marriage.

The Christian right is coming for divorce next

Before the 1960s, it was really hard to get divorced in America.

Typically, the only way to do it was to convince a judge that your spouse had committed some form of wrongdoing, like adultery, abandonment, or “cruelty” (that is, abuse). This could be difficult: “Even if you could prove you had been hit, that didn’t necessarily mean it rose to the level of cruelty that justified a divorce,” said Marcia Zug, a family law professor at the University of South Carolina.

Then came a revolution: In 1969, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of California (who was himself divorced) signed the nation’s first no-fault divorce law, allowing people to end their marriages without proving they’d been wronged. The move was a recognition that “people were going to get out of marriages,” Zug said, and gave them a way to do that without resorting to subterfuge. Similar laws soon swept the country, and rates of domestic violence and spousal murder began to drop as people — especially women — gained more freedom to leave dangerous situations.

Today, however, a counter-revolution is brewing: Conservative commentators and lawmakers are calling for an end to no-fault divorce, arguing that it has harmed men and even destroyed the fabric of society. Oklahoma state Sen. Dusty Deevers, for example, introduced a bill in January to ban his state’s version of no-fault divorce. The Texas Republican Party added a call to end the practice to its 2022 platform (the plank is preserved in the 2024 version). Federal lawmakers like Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) and House Speaker Mike Johnson, as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, have spoken out in favor of tightening divorce laws.


You're viewing a single thread.