Lawmakers in Mississippi killed a bill which would have expanded existing divorce laws to include domestic abuse as an acceptable motivation for divorce, saying that doing so would “open the floodgates” to more divorce.
What should have been an easily passed bill was stuck down by traditionalist Republicans who saw the expansion of divorce motivations as permission for more residents to break their sacred vows.
Seeking less divorce and a return to traditional values in the state, Republican lawmaker Andy Gipson argued that the law was redundant and that it would allow couples to divorce for something as minimal as a raised voice.
Gipson also argued that he viewed domestic violence not as grounds for divorce, but an opportunity for the couple to learn and grow together.
“If there’s a case of abuse that person needs to have change of behavior and a serious change of heart. Hopefully even in those cases restoration can happen.”
Considering that the majority of domestic violence victims today are women, Gipson is effectively telling women to sit down, shut up, and hope that their abusive spouse finds the light before ending their life.
Currently in Mississippi, a “no fault” divorce is available, but cannot be completed until 60 days after the divorce paperwork has been filed. This is a long time for a fleeing spouse to wait around, attempting to protect themselves from the violence of their former partner. This is especially concerning as 75% of the women killed during a domestic violence dispute are murdered as they are attempting to flee their abusive relationship.
Other motives for divorce in the state include impotence, alcoholism, “insanity at the time of marriage,” and an instance where a woman is pregnant with another man’s child at the time of marriage without the husband’s knowledge.
In the U.S. today, approximately 4,000 women are killed by their abusive partner. We should be making it easier for these women to escape their tormentor rather than morally coercing them into staying with their violent spouse.