Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Return of Citizen Obie

After a hiatus of over three months, Joel has begun posting to his blog, Citizen Obie, once again. I'm glad to see it return. The posts, while often Ohio-centric, nevertheless provided useful resources for progressively-minded readers no matter where they lived. The recent post about the decline of the public option in the health care debate contains links to numerous thought-provoking perspectives. Link

Monday, August 17, 2009

The First Days of the Rest of Our Lives...

Bev returned Saturday from her epic road trip driving Ruth to Grinnell. She had help driving, at least: Her friend Lissa on the way in and a friend of Joel's, Ben, part of the way back. The trip involved a stopover in Oberlin each way, to pick up and then drop off Joel, who thereby got to see the Grinnell campus and lend Ruth some moral support on her first day on campus.

The campus was, I gather, almost empty. Ruth was arriving early to participate in a freshman get-to-know-each-other canoe trip (in northern Wisconsin, a nine-hour drive away). There was little staff around and few students. Ruth seemed happy, Bev tells me, not to have to deal with the stress of moving in and meeting lots of people all in the same day. They picked up some furnishings at local stores, got Ruth's laptop connected to the school network, and dealt with a little paperwork. Ruth seemed very happy, eager to get started.

Bev was exhausted Saturday evening, when she finally got home and was still feeling the effects of her journey Sunday. We went out for brunch at The Garden Cafe as a belated celebration of my birthday and stopped and sat in Isham Park on the way home. But it was hot and humid so we didn't stay in the park too long. When we got back home we looked at each other and took a moment to acknowledge what we both knew but had not mentioned: this was it. We were the household now. Except for vacations and visits we would be the sole determinants of the rhythms and moods of our home. This was the beginning of a new phase in our lives.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere Nor Any Drop to Drink

Michael Pritchard proposes a solution:

More information at

Lifesaver Bottle at

I Want to Get Demarried, Part 2

According to Wikpedia:

On 1 January 1998, registered partnerships were introduced in law in the Netherlands. These were meant for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage, though they can also be entered into by opposite-sex couples, and in fact about one third of the registered partnerships between 1998 and 2001 were of opposite-sex couples. For the law, registered partnerships and marriage convey the same rights and duties, especially after some laws were changed to remedy inequalities with respect to inheritance and some other issues.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I Want to Get Demarried

Don't get me wrong; I love my wife and want to spend the rest of my life with her, exclusively. I am not interested in pursuing other conjugal relationships. I don't regret the strictures of marriage but I very much oppose the connotations, the religious connotations, with which the word seems inextricably encumbered.

I want to be mate-paired with my wife. I want to be attached socially, legally and emotionally. If, however, being married carries with it the association of heterosexuality, the aura of sacredness, and the necessary implication of procreation then it is a tainted concept. I want an alternative.

The term "demarriage" seems already to be in use by sociologists of the family, especially in Europe. As far as I can see (and I could have gotten this very wrong) I am using the term in a different way then they. They seem to apply the term to society as a whole to mean an increasing disaffection with the institution of marriage, an attitudinal shift in progress since World War II. When they apply the term to married couples it seems to mean a period of mutual alienation, of drifting away. When I say I want to get" demarried" I mean only that I want to adopt a new contract with my spouse, something we can call by a different name. I want my government and my society to offer me that choice.

Interestingly, something of that sort seems to exist in France. It is called PACS, pacte civil de solidarité. According to Wikipedia:

[it] is a form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organising their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. From a legal standpoint, a PACS is a "contract" drawn up between the two individuals, which is stamped and registered by the clerk of the court. In some areas, couples signing a PACS have the option of undergoing a formal ceremony at the City Hall identical to that of civil marriage. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered "single" with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are increasingly considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes.

PACS were signed into law in France in 1999 and, in certain respects, seem already to be a success:

According to the 2004 Demographic Report by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. the number of marriages in France had fallen each year since 2000.

266,000 civil marriages took place in 2004, a decline of 5.9% from 2003. However, the report found that the number of couples getting PACS had increased every year except 2001. There was a 29% increase in PACS between 2001 and 2002 and a 25% increase between 2002 and 2003. For the first 9 months of 2004, 27,000 PACS were signed compared to 22,000 in 2003. The report found that one PACS in 10 had been dissolved (less than divorces for couples married for the same period, for which one marriage in three will be dissolved by divorce or separation after the first 3 years...

France's adoption of the PACS law has not been a panacea. The situation in France is far from perfect. Same-sex PACS couples still do not have the right to adopt, for example. It is, nevertheless, a step in the right direction.

It would be a good thing for us here in the States if we began discussing the adoption of such laws ourselves.

[7/16/09 -- Note: This article has now been cross-posted on Women's Glib, a remarkable weblog by several young women (including my daughter) and managed by Miranda.]