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

Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at gmail.com
Thu Jul 21 13:18:45 EDT 2011

Brief note of interest: I taught a section on the same-sex marriage
controversy in my 2005 R&C/lit course titled, *V-Chips and Codpieces:
Intersexions of Modern and Early Modern Texts*.  I coupled the pro/con gay
marriage texts with selections from *DDD* and *Tetrachordon*.  The students
came to the consensus "independently" (quotation marks denoting some irony)
that John Milton's arguments were the strongest of the bunch for upholding
the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.  These were UC Berkeley students ...


On Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 9:19 AM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>wrote:

> 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
> 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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