Interview with John Marcotte, author of bill to ban divorce


Rob Cockerham interviewed John Marcotte, a Sacramento man who filed a petition with the California Secretary of State to get a voter's initiative onto the 2010 ballot in California that would make it ban divorce.

RC: Are you going to hit the streets collecting signatures for the initiative?

John: We're going to set up a table in front of Wal*Mart and ask people to sign a petition to protect traditional marriage. We're going to interview them about why they thing traditional marriage is important, and then we'll tell them that we are trying to ban divorce. People who supported Prop 8 weren't trying to take rights away from gays, they just wanted to protect traditional marriage. That's why I'm confident that they will support this initiative, even though this time it will be their rights that are diminished. To not support it would be hypocritical. We're also going to collect signatures in front of "Faces," the largest gay nightclub in Sacramento.

Interview with John Marcotte, Author of the 2010 California Protection of Marriage Act


  1. I can’t tell. Is this guy serious or not? It is the logical consequence of Prop 8 and similar legislation but I can’t tell if he’s trying to make a point about that or if he genuinely is trying to ban divorce.

  2. I can’t read the article (I’m guessing work’s web filter has a problem with the first four letters of that URL), so I might be rehashing here.

    you should link to this guy’s website, it’s brilliant.

    “California has a divorce rate that some have computed to be as high as 75%. Even after removing Zsa Zsa Gabor and Larry King from the pool — we still are left with a rate in the high 50s.

    Proposition 8 tried to make traditional marriage safer by making sure that Adam Lambert and Ryan Seacrest can’t profess their eternal love to one another. Prop 8 backers recognized that gay marriage was just the beginning of a very slippery slope. Next people would be marrying goats, trees and particularly stylish armchairs.”

  3. He’s got to be satirizing. Too much stuff in the interview and on the site is way too bizarre.

    But Poe’s Law will bite him in the ass.

  4. I’m with the satire angle. Or just pissed off.

    My suggestion was actually for a ballot proposition that would invalidate marriages where either of the spouses was not a United States citizen.

  5. I would, in all goodness and honesty, support this bill as long as it had a stipulation for abusive or adulterous situations.

  6. Good lord, this is EXACTLY what I was wanting to do, but hadn’t had the time or gumption to do!

    The awesomesauce aspect is that I live about 10 miles west of Sacramento. I will definitely be contacting John Marcotte to see if he needs any volunteers!

  7. I would, in all goodness and honesty, support this bill as long as it included a stipulation for abusive or adulterous situations.

    (sorry for the repeat of the anonymous login)

  8. I think he missed the most important part of Prop 8. ITS ABOUT THE CHILDREN!, if we let the gays get married they won’t have any children the way God intended. I would like to further protect marriage by first requiring all marriage applicants be tested for their ability to reproduce. We can’t have fertile males marrying baron females. Its an abomination! Also we will be requiring all married couples to sign a pledge to reproduce within the first 2 years of marriage. As we all know this is a slippery slope, and if we don’t continue to push upward, soon people will be marrying pet rocks and carrots!

  9. This right here:

    “John: Sometimes other people need to sacrifice in order to protect my ideas about traditional marriage.”

    Is what made it awesome.

  10. my proposal for the next california constitutional amendment:

    marriage is a lawful union between consenting adult non-mormons.

  11. Seems like dry satire is gaining popularity and credibility, especially when it favors subtle irony over lampoonery. When it’s very dry, it often comes across to me as much more credible than The News, The Facts, or The Truth.

  12. The execution of this satire is what makes it so brilliant. He lures in the bigots with the (entirely accurate) language of “Protecting Traditional Marriage,” then hits them with the punchline that it would actually infringe on the rights of straight people.

    I’ve always been bothered by that “50% divorce rate” statistic though. Even if it’s accurate it’s pretty misleading- you can only be married for your whole life once, so multiple divorcees really skew the numbers.

  13. @ #9 Steve,

    Highlight text “Poe’s Law” in post.
    Click on “Search Google for ‘Poe’s Law'”

    /Never ceases to be amazed
    //Assuming FF
    ///Also assuming you’re not on a weasel Mac and have a right mouse button

  14. @MDH

    I’ve been beating that drum for years. Now if only someone other than you and I and our closest friends would vote for it, we’d be in business.

  15. I actually believe in the basic concept behind this satire. I think the main problem with marriage is divorce. If a small number of people are driving up the divorce rates, let’s implement a three strikes law… or better yet, one divorce to a person. Once you’ve used up your allotment, you can’t get any more marriage licenses issued.

  16. @ BBONYX – Macs have had a right mouse button for years now. Where the fuck have you been? Besides wallowing in your own smug self satisfaction that is.

  17. Actually this is kinda dumb. The CA court already ruled that it would violate the CA constitution to give straight people special rights that gay people don’t have, and also that the amendment banning gay marriage is legal. Someone needs to go to the court and demand that they take the next logical step: to order that straight people can’t get married either because anything else violates the equality clause.

  18. It’s definitely satire, but it’s really good satire. So much so that, if he can jump through all the hoops just right, I think he’s got a good chance of it passing. I would love it, mostly because of the message it would send to the California populace about the tyranny of the majority. They need a good smack in the face as far as that goes.

    “Macs have had a right mouse button for years now.”

    Really? Where’s the right button here:

  19. Sigh, irony it is. In fact, until fairly recently, the divorce rate among “evangelicals” was higher than the national average. Even now, they are right at the national average along with everyone else.

    This strikes right to the heart of the hypocrisy. It’s SOOO much easier to throw stones when you refuse to acknowledge your own problems.

  20. Poe’s Law: “the unit of poetry must be fixed by the reader’s capacity of attention, and … the limits of a poem must accord with the limits of a single movement of intellectual apprehension and emotional exaltation.”

    I must have missed something….

  21. why don’t they ban marriage all together ?

    Things would make much more sense if states do not recognize marriages (gay or straight) at all. Marriage can go back to being what it was , you do it however way you want from a pastor , Rabbi, monk etc. The title is self declared; like declaring you’re vegetarian.

    This treatment will force gov’t to critically examine rights given to married people (thinking tax here. To me (I’m single) i never understood why two married people should have some extra status/rights compared to two single person.

    Also, dropping marriage, we can still extend status/rights to “children and their guardians”, which is, in most case, much more meaningful and lasting relationship than modern marriage.

  22. While I certainly appreciate the subtlety and the point of the commentary Mr. Marcotte is trying to make, it’s unfortunate that he’s basically preaching to the choir. The Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches already insist that divorce is a horrible, horrible thing, and they go out of their way to make divorce difficult. They won’t be swayed by this. And Protestants who supported Prop 8 no doubt are fully capable of rationalizing the obvious double-standard. And I’m pretty sure that most atheists don’t give a crap about the sanctity of “traditional marriage”.

    My hat is off to Mr. Marcotte for his cleverness, but I don’t expect that any progress is going to be made on the back of this movement.

  23. Assuming he’s serious, anti-divorce laws only result in a bunch of people living away from their married spouses and with other people.

  24. Everything you need to know is in his phrase, “…you don’t get to keep her.” His audience — “real” people — are men, and marriage is ownership, and the problem with divorce is it separates men from their property.

    What he’s really trying to repeal is the Thirteenth Amendment.

  25. It’s obviously satire (and funny), but I am all about consistency on these things. At the very least the proponents of “traditional marriage” should take more seriously criticism of “no fault” divorce, and a great many don’t.

    Brainspore – The 50% divorce does include multiple marriages, yeah. Only 33% of first marriages end in divorce.

    Poe’s Law only works because a large majority of the people who mock fundamentalism don’t know anything about it. Any time I’ve see the Landover Baptist Church posted, at least 3/4 of commenters think it’s real despite its obvious satirical nature.

  26. I think his point is valid:

    If you regulate the number of times somebody can get divorced/remarried and enjoy the benefits, then marriage in a practical sense will be much more thought out. We shouldn’t be dishing out tax breaks to people who are having ineffective marriages and creating divorce children.

    Divorce is an easy out for people, and it keeps them from really living with the consequences of there actions and making good choices in life partners to begin with. Marriage should be taken more seriously by the very people that are trying to keep other people from having it.

    Make civil unions equal to marriages, remove the ulterior benefits from marriages, or make marriage more restricted. This man favors the third option.

  27. They should make it retroactive. Everybody is officially still married to their first spouse (unless that person already had a spouse), if both of you are still alive. All children born outside of these official marriages (or better yet, not less than 9 months into them) are legally bastards, which shall be applied as an official title. e.g. John Smith, Bastard.

  28. Anon @14: “We can’t have fertile males marrying baron females.”
    Baron females? Ha. My dear friend, that’s called a baroness.

  29. @LEXICAT: May I propose that your amendment be to only recognize marriages that are available for observation by independent third parties. This would invalidate Temple Marriages that may only be attended by certain Mormons having met particular conditions.

  30. I think he should also add an ammendment forbidding anything other than “man-on-top missionary-style sex.” You know, to preserve our traditional sexual values.

    @ #26 seyo:

    A nice interesting article here, and the only thing that makes you want to respond (with obscenities) is someone making a joke about the lack of the right-button on Macs? Wow. He’s right, anyway, my new MacBook Pro doesn’t have a right mouse button. I’m sure even rabid fan-boys can agree that “two-finger multi-touch clicks” cannot by any definition be construed as being the same as a “right mouse button” anymore than ctr-click is.

  31. @1- short answer is Yes. Long answer is that its a long honored Sacramento tradition to hoist bigots and hypocrites up by their own petard when they start interfering in the lives of others. Satirical pranking is also a big thing here, which is probably why Rob Cockeram picked up on this guy so quickly.

    I understand this guy’s point of view in a way- progressive Catholics were trampled on by the Church in CA in order for it to back the passage Prop 8 (banning gay marriage under the guise of “protecting the traditional definition of marriage”). The Pope spearheaded efforts here to also make it an excommunicable offense to get divorced as well. This guy’s response to all the hypocrisy and hate is pretty normal, something along the lines of “fine, you want me to live this way? Good, you first, and lets make sure you toe the line with everyone else.”

  32. Also, I understand why he is doing this for another reason. The initiative process in the state allows anyone to put a law up for referendum with enough signatures. My understanding is that a ballot initiative supporting gay marriage in California will be on the ballot in 2010. By putting THIS bill on the ballot as well, it counterpoints a lot of the “traditionalist” arguments at the ballot box, and forces the question- which direction do you want to go? Are you really serious about traditional marriage, or are you just a bigoted hypocrite?

    It also gives pro- gay marriage attorneys fodder in court if their bill passes and is challenged. Overall, I feel that this is a good strategy for this guy (who is obviously one of the many progressive Catholics in this state) to adopt in order to ultimately meet his goals.

  33. Asifa @22, how about transferable divorce caps, like carbon emission caps? If you want a divorce, but you’ve already used up your allotment, you can buy one from someone who still has one.

  34. @43- I’m pretty sure the IRS would count as a third party. Just bring back common-law marriage, so if you put someone down as “spouse”, they are.

    And yes, I imagine many a thing would get slipped through that loophole…not always for the bad.

  35. So the problem with passing legislation to prove a political point, is that the legislation is still passed and it still fucks everyone over.

  36. @ SAMSAM – Actually, it very well can be construed as such, functionally it’s the same, and in many cases superior. You can also just buy yourself a mighty mouse. It has 5 “buttons.”

    As far as commenting on this thread goes, the original post and everything following it is fair game. My $.02 on the issue is marriage is just as antiquated a notion as left and right mouse buttons.

  37. Bill @48. Like the way you think, but don’t agree with your strategy. This guy makes a funny and biting point. But as a useful mainstream tactic, it’s flawed. It’s only going to come off as more snarky silliness from gays – which translates to Not Really Serious About Marriage. Making fun of a large voting bloc – however deserved – is not an effective tool of persuasion. It’ll just make people doubt this issue is as serious to gays as is it to them. When was the last time someone laughed you off as a fucking hypocrite and changed your heart and mind?
    Don’t mean you in particular, Bill.

  38. while I recognize the satire… am I allowed to think that it’s a good idea (with stipulations for abuse, etc)

  39. #56 d3matt:

    while I recognize the satire… am I allowed to think that it’s a good idea (with stipulations for abuse, etc)

    Sure, you’re allowed to think so… but why?

    Besides “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” personal religious beliefs, why should people not be allowed to admit they made a mistake, and that getting divorced might be better for everyone involved?

    Should we make laws preventing you from changing your job? Moving to a new house?

    Should a law that prevents divorce also require married adults to live under the same roof? And, if it doesn’t, what good does the law serve, since people could just separate?

    Sure, some children’s lives are wrecked by divorce. Some children’s lives are also wrecked by parents screaming at each other all the time. Or by parents who are married but separated. Or by absent fathers.

    Who is the government to say who I have to live with?

  40. God I love this post. Both because the original post’s content is wonderful, and because you’ve all done such a wonderful job tearing BBONYX a new one for being a failed smartass.

  41. His real opponents aren’t the “marriage protectors” at Wal-Mart that he hopes to box-in logically, it the literally thousands and thousands of divorce attorneys whose very livelihood depends on siphoning off their share of the marital assets… They won’t go down without a fight.

  42. While we’re at it, let’s add a legal definition of “man” and “woman” to any marriage amendment. Then require that the definition accommodate everyone, including persons like Caster Semenya (from an earlier story on BB today) or Stella Walsh.

  43. Is this for real? Sounds like high satire to me, especially the end – “I’ll try to get a ‘win’ by banning divorce and save that for 2012 — when Sarah Palin will be president and/or the end of the world will occur”.
    Surely the man is a comedy act?

  44. #8 “I would, in all goodness and honesty, support this bill as long as it had a stipulation for abusive or adulterous situations.”

    That’s a cop out. If you don’t know someone well enough to tell if they are going to be abusive or adulterous you have no business getting married.


  45. I fucking hate divorce. Destroyed my family both when my mother did it, and then again when my ex wife did it. Anybody know why women are generally the ones who file? Though divorce is sometimes warranted, it is hard to maintain a positive view of women when they go round destroying families so wantonly. To all women who are in a relationship they hate: just quit. You’re worth it! You deserve your freedom and independence from men.

    1. I confess that my childhood would have been much better if my mother hadn’t divorced my father, but poisoned him instead.

  46. Antinous @ #45 – Imagine my surprise to learn I had been named as co-respondent in a divorce proceeding in 1993. (Not to mention that the accusation was, at the time, completely unfounded; I suspect my true offense had been to give the wife — a former employee — a promotion that resulted in her earning more than her husband. However, as argument could be made for its prescience, seeing how she and I later married….)

  47. I like this sort of satire, but it won’t work. Propr8 supporters don’t think logical thoughts too. well. they’ll just get mad.’

    and macs last i checked don’t come with 2 button mice. funny thing about USB though, any mouse will work. you can buy a new mouse with as many buttons as you can find and it will work with as many functions as you can program. It’s not like you’re forced to use the mouse that came with the computer for it’s whole lifespan. Seems there’s a huge market for replacement mice, and it’s not usually because the old one broke….

  48. @68: “and macs last i checked don’t come with 2 button mice.”

    You’re right, they don’t. They come with 5 button mice.

  49. @Rob & seyo: Stop being such fanboys. He’s right. Macs don’t come with mice with right-buttons. It’s not a negative. It’s not a statement about a lack of functionality. It is just a plain fact.

    MacBook: Under “What’s included:” no mouse.

    MacBook Pro: Pages worth of additions under “configuration” including external monitors. No mouse.

    iMac: Comes with Mighty Mouse, which, as the Wikipedia article states, is a buttonless mouse, so cannot possibly have a right-button. (There’s a pushable right side to the mouse, but my cat has a pushable right side, and you can’t say she has buttons.)

    Stop getting your knickers in a twist and accept that Macs don’t come standard with mice with right buttons.

  50. I’ve never used a bifurcated mouse. Of course I’ve never used anything but a Mac — for twenty years. What are these weird mice of which you speak? More importantly, WHY are they?

  51. This is like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It’s satire in a way, but it’s being seriously proposed so as to point out the hypocrisy in people’s thinking. It’s like saying “Your belief system leads to this ridiculous conclusion. So let me give you a chance to actually support this ridiculous conclusion. If you don’t support it, then stop using your belief system to justify other stuff, since you clearly don’t buy into it so deeply”.

    Some comments like #14 point out that this is equivalent to proposing a law that keeps non-fertile people from marrying (if marriage is supposed to be the foundation of families). This, too, has been done. In a sense it’s satire, but a satirical proposal can actually be pushed through in order to expose hypocrisy.

    I’ve been Googling for minutes to try and find the proposed law that would ban marriage between infertile people but I can’t find it. I think it was in WA or OR a couple years ago… Anyone got a link?

  52. I would, in all goodness and honesty, support this bill as long as it included a stipulation for abusive or adulterous situations.

    I would go along with PHYSICALLY abusive situations, IF AND ONLY IF, the victim of the abuse presses charges. But I would not place adultery as an exception to the ban.

  53. #32: Exactly. In the words of Doug Stanhope, ‘If you want a tax break, incorporate.’



    /strokes his five-button mouse lovingly/

  54. I say let people get divorced. But then they have to wear a big red D on the front of all the shirts, jackets, suits. Hell let just tattoo it on their foreheads.

  55. #75:

    I would go along with PHYSICALLY abusive situations, IF AND ONLY IF, the victim of the abuse presses charges

    So now the only way to get out of a marriage that’s making me miserable is to beat my spouse until s/he agrees to leave?

    That’s insane.

  56. @ Rob –

    The Westboro Baptist Church is not “all fundamentalists.” It is, in fact, one extended family and practically no one else. At times they’ve even flirted with not calling themselves Christians at all.

    Hell, I wouldn’t even call them fundamentalist at all, since there’s nothing in the Bible about every sin turning the sinner into a “fag,” which is what those crazy bastards seem to believe.

  57. Marriage contracts should have a time limit of seven years- Than it should have to be renewed for another seven years, the couple pays fifty- dollars to renew it for another seven years.(out of respect of the seven year itch theory)After twenty -five years of consecutive marriage the renewal not required.

    The revenue from than put into National Health care to help sick people.

    This would encourage couples not take marriage for granted, not take the other person for granted. Result- better marriages, happier children, less obesity-that is related to discord.

    It may help the lawmakers see that union between two people is desirable and beneficial and useful.

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