Friday, September 20, 2013

Ken Cuccinelli Wanted to Make Divorce Harder for Women

Too many voters I fear still do not fully understand the extent of Ken Cuccinelli's extremism.  Yes, he wants to reinstate Virginia's sodomy statute which has been historically used to persecute gays.  He wants to end all abortions (even in cases of rape) and wants a "personhood" provision added to Virginia's Constitution that would outlaw many forms of contraception.  But many do no realize that he wants a 18th century approach to women's rights and would make it far more difficult for women in abusive marriages to divorce.  Women are in short to be near chattel property of their husbands.  A piece in Slate looks at this aspects of Cuccinelli's anti-modernity, anti-woman agenda.  Here are excerpts:

As reported in the Huffington Post, when Cuccinelli was a state senator, he filed not one but two laws that were aimed at eliminating Virginia's no-fault divorce law—which would make Virginia the only state in the country not to have a law protecting its citizens’ ability to unilaterally end a marriage without giving a specific reason—though the legislation died in committee.

McAuliffe's campaign is right to be suspicious of Cuccinelli's gendered intentions. It is true that Cuccinelli has been pointedly gender-neutral in his public statements about the bills, defending his attacks on no-fault divorce by saying, "This law has everything to do with the breakdown of the family. The state says marriage is so unimportant that if you just separate for a few months, you can basically nullify the marriage." No doubt that's how he'd like it to appear to female voters.
However, a deeper look suggests that his desire to eliminate no-fault divorce is about more than a gender-neutral concern for the "breakdown of the family." The bills Cuccinelli drafted were specifically about empowering spouses who resist the divorce. As the Washington Post reported, Cuccinelli has ties to the "fathers rights" movement, a group of men who agitate to give men more power over divorce proceedings. These groups supported Cuccinelli's bid to end no-fault divorce presumably because they saw it as a way to make it harder for women to end their marriages.

[W]hen relationships are abusive, it's very often the case that the victim wants out but the abuser wants to hold it together. Even though there was technically an exception for abuse in Cuccinelli's bill, those victims—who are largely female—would have had to cobble together evidence that would be necessary to meet Cuccinelli's standards for the exception, a process that would require many to stay in the marriage and endure abuse while gathering proof. Cuccinelli may not see this as a problem, but McAuliffe is right to bring it to voters' attention.

Cuccinelli's world view - and that of his religious extremist backers at The Family Foundation - is both antiquated and frightening.  Gays, women, blacks and others who are deemed "other" by the white Christofascists who make up most of Cuccinelli's support need to turn out in force on November 5th and not only make sure that Cuccinelli loses but that he loses big time.  The GOP forces of hate and bigotry need to be sent a resounding message.

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