On Preserving Respect and Equality in Same-Sex Marriage — And Divorce

Scales of Justice

Get on the gay train! The sentiment supporting marriage equality is growing. The polls say so, Andrew Cuomo says so, and straight athletes say so. And, in the great state of New York, even NBA star Steve Nash has taken up the cause for marriage equality.

And all of this momentum has got me thinking about the enemies of equality: who are they?

There are the obvious culprits, but then there are those who might surprise you. Because it’s our job to ask the hard questions via this pithy yet informative column, we encourage you to look harder. Take a quick look around that bed in which you sleep; are you sleeping with the eventual enemy? Or, do you meet him or her for brunch regularly?

Maybe it’s what we’ve seen recently, courtesy of a recent case of lesbians-behaving-badly (via the news) or in cases presented to our law firm, but we’re starting to think that once the Conservative Right finally loses the weight of its collective voice and influence on mainstream America, we might just find that we are our own worst enemies in equality.

Now, where’s our soapbox?

Let us step up here for a quick second to elaborate.

As the nuances of equality start to emerge, we find that robust debate (even among the LGBT community) is one thing, but LGBT folks who abuse the protections of parenthood or marriage equality in the courts is another thing entirely.

If you take vows of the typical sort, you’ll pledge to honor and respect each other come-what-may. We’re divorce attorneys, so we know that some of you won’t make it all the way; but, it is possible, even in dissolution/divorce, to follow-through on your pledge to treat each other well. And that will have the side-effect of avoiding the spectacle to which nay-sayers can point as the quintessential example of why we are not equal.

You won’t soon see, for example, straight couples hurling straight epithets at each other in divorce and custody cases. And we suggest that we shouldn’t see sexual orientation holier-than-thou arguments in our family law litigation either.

And that’s something you, the client, can control as you explain your objectives to the attorney representing you. And, should the worst befall your relationship, we hope that this is what you’ll do.

As always, we welcome your questions and encourage you to ask them before your Big Day.

Legally Yours,

Heather & Emily


Photo Credit: © Tmcnem | Dreamstime.com

Heather McCabe and Emily Russell are family law practitioners who regularly serve the LGBT community in all kinds of legal affairs – from adoptions to dissolutions/divorces. McCabe has taught family law and legal writing and has been on the faculty at Georgetown Law, American University, and University of Baltimore. Russell worked as a lobbyist before coming to the law. Whether through document drafting, mediation, collaborative law, or litigation, McCabe and Russell are committed to the creation and security of the unique families they serve.