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Messy divorce sheds light on gay-marriage debate

It seems that any attention is good attention these days in the media. While the same-sex marriage debate continues in Ohio and nationwide, focusing on divorce may help to bring awareness to the issue. Now a bitter break-up between Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Etheridge is shedding light on the legal aspects of a same-sex divorce, highlighting the issues faced by heterosexual couples and same-sex couples alike.

Since the split, the public has learned that Tammy believes she is entitled to far more than the $23,000 she was promised to cover expenses and child support. Melissa claimed that Tammy is reckless and burned one of the children with a cigarette. The aggressive battling shows that heterosexual couples do not have a monopoly on messy break-ups.

The Etheridge couple had a famously lavish wedding, featured in tabloids and boasting a long celebrity guest list. What once seemed like an amicable break-up has escalated quickly. It now seems clear that the issues of property, custody and visitation are not going to be resolved easily. But, what does this mean for the future of homosexual marriage and divorce?

At the very least, the media headlining break-up shows that heterosexual and homosexual couples face very similar emotional, personal and financial challenges during a break-up. It also suggests that legal protections need the same attention as the right to obtain a marriage license.

The break-up has been the subject of gossip columns and blogs, but it could also mean more to gay marriage. Since more than half of marriages do end in divorce, it is not surprising that the gay community will also face these challenges. GLBT advocates also believe that the break-up illustrates the complexities of gay and lesbian relationships, as well as the simple fact that some of them just won't survive.

The Daily Beast, "Melissa Etheridge's Hideous Breakup," Tricia Romano, April 17, 2012.

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