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Since working as a divorce mediator in Florida for ten years now, I have recently incurred a new wave of clients — those seeking a same-sex divorce mediator. And I’m seeing a trend in the reason for this movement: Cheating.
It’s only been a few years since federal law mandated that same-sex marriages have all the legal rights associated with heterosexual marriages (it seems outrageous to write that verbiage). That being said, Florida has been on the bandwagon since January 6, 2015, as a result of Brenner v. Scott, the lead case on the issue.
With this seemingly huge political, humanistic, awesome leap for the LGBT community in Florida, I am saddened by the promptness with which the vices of heterosexual marriage have not only affected the eroding away of the gay monogamous population, but moreover has become a deal breaker.
Infidelity is a recurring theme of the new statistic of gay divorce. Now I know more often than not cheating is a factor in all divorces — mediation gives you great insight into the personal lives of your clients, actually to the point of TMI. But in gay couple mediation, I find there is little toleration of this crossing of the line. “No counseling; I’m crushed, but I’m done.”
Trust, is now perhaps a necessity after the long battle to be recognized in legal matrimony. I find it to be sacred to the legally recognized same-sex partner who suffered the loss of it.
And now Florida as well as the 49 others will have to again apply legislation on what rules and regulations apply in a divorce between same-sex marriage partners. Gay marriage is a relatively new concept under the law; when a divorce happens between same-sex couples, the courts will be counted on to deal with the dissolution in the best way they know how — eeek. Can we depend on courts to adapt the rules for heterosexual couples to same-sex couples in a reasonable, fair manner?
I do love my job. However, people are done when they walk through my door. I’m not a counselor, I’m a mediator. I try to get each person to a point where they can accept a mediated contract — nobody wins, beyond mutually agreed upon decisions, from there they are left to their own consolations and acceptance of the precedent that has been set as standard for settlements. But this precedent and statute is based on the lives and misdeeds of heterosexuals. There must be diversity in this challenge as well.
Joni A. Mathis is a Florida same-sex divorce mediator with Peacemaker Mediation Group, LLC.