[Milton-L] The Doctrine and Discipline of Gay Divorce

richard strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Thu Jul 21 12:19:56 EDT 2011


One of the many good things about Milton's conception of marriage as 
essentially a matter of happy and nourishing conversation, in all its senses (and 
of the necessary availability of divorce when this is lacking), is that it is perfectly 
compatible with same-sex marriage and divorce.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2011 11:54:41 -0400
>From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu (on behalf of "Shoulson, Jeffrey" 
<jshoulson at mail.as.miami.edu>)
>Subject: [Milton-L] The Doctrine and Discipline of Gay Divorce  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>
>I have no intention of diverting our attention from the very interesting recent 
discussion on nudity/nakedness, eroticism/pornography.  As usual, I have 
found many of the comments to be most interesting and provocative.
>
>I want to raise here a somewhat tangential matter.  Some list members may 
have heard recent NPR reports or read in the NY Times that the latest 
developments in the legalization of gay marriage have also led to some 
important questions about gay divorce--without going into too much detail, the 
upshot of these reports is that while it has become easier for lesbians and gay 
men to marry each other, divorcing one another is another matter entirely.  
Indeed, in those instances when couples travel from their home states, where 
gay marriages are not legal, to states where gay marriage is legal and then seek 
divorces back home, these divorces are nearly impossible to obtain, resulting in 
all kinds of legal complications, not to mention, when there are children 
involved, very painful matters of custody.
>
>Without wishing to enter into the merits of the whole gay marriage question, it 
has occurred to me that some of these reports are producing discussions of 
marriage and divorce that have a very Miltonic strain to them.  Milton would not, 
of course, have taken up the question of gay marriage.  But his arguments about 
divorce clearly ground themselves in the basic premise that the availability of 
divorce as a remedy for an unsatisfying marriage is elemental to the very 
institution of marriage, not after the fact, but ab initio.  Take for example the 
following, from Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Bk. 1, chap. 4:
>
>"He therefore who, lacking of his due in the most native and human end of 
marriage, thinks it better to part than to live sadlty and injuriously to that 
cheerful covenant (for not to be beloved and yet retained, is the greatest injury 
to a gentle spirit [BY THE WAY, THAT'S ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARENTHETICAL 
REMARKS IN ALL OF MILTON]), he, I say, who therefore seeks to part, is one who 
highly honors the married life and would not stain it, and the reasons which now 
move him to divorce are equal to the best of those that could first warrant him 
to marry."
>
>I wonder what others on this list think.
>
>Best,
>
>Jeffrey
>
>
>Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph. D.
>Director of Undergraduate Studies
>Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies
>University of Miami
>PO Box 248145
>Coral Gables, FL 33124-4632
>
>(o) 305-284-5596
>(f) 305-284-5635
>
>jshoulson at miami.edu<mailto:jshoulson at miami.edu>
>www.as.miami.edu/english/people/#jshoulson<http://www.as.miami.edu/eng
lish/people/#jshoulson>
>
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>
>
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>
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