Goodbye, Tammy Wynette

Sacramento man’s initiative would ban divorce in California

John Marcotte wants to ban divorce in California.

John Marcotte wants to ban divorce in California.

Photo By anne stokes

Step aside, Ashton Kutcher—John Marcotte is about to punk the entire state of California.

Last month, with help from his attorney, the Sacramento resident submitted to the secretary of state a proposed initiative for the 2010 election. Tentatively titled the “2010 California Protection of Marriage Act,” the initiative would add these words to the state constitution:

“No party to any marriage shall be restored to the state of an unmarried person during the lifetime of the other party unless the marriage is void or voidable, as set forth in Part 2 of Division 6 of the Family Code.”

In plain English: It would ban divorce in the state of California.

Why does Marcotte want to ban divorce? He is, after all, a happily married father of two.

“After [Proposition] 8 passed, I realized that my marriage wasn’t any stronger,” Marcotte told SN&R. “So I needed to go a step further to protect it.”

Marcotte is referring to the language used by many Prop. 8 supporters, who argued that gay marriage threatened the institution of traditional marriage. Marcotte said that his initiative will protect marriage from its biggest threat: divorce.

“Since we’re busy passing our Judeo-Christian values into law, we should tackle the bigger issues,” Marcotte said.

The initiative has received lots of attention. It was featured in The Huffington Post and on CNN and The 700 Club. Marcotte said he has been interviewed by about a dozen morning radio shows.

“The public response we’ve gotten has been overwhelming,” said Marcotte, whose Facebook group just passed 5,000 fans.

This isn’t the first time Marcotte has grabbed the spotlight. Remember the Groucho glasses slapped onto that Greek statue in 2006? That was handiwork of Marcotte and friends.

Marcotte is raising money for the initiative by selling a “Chains of Love” T-shirt on his Web site, The blue shirt depicts a cartoon bride and groom, chained together by a heart-shaped lock, pulling away from each other. The shirt reads, “You said ’Til death do us part.’ You’re not dead yet.”

Currently, the initiative is under review by the attorney general’s office, where it will be given a title and summary. Next, it undergoes a fiscal analysis to determine how much it would cost the state. From there, Marcotte and his supporters will have 150 days to collect the 694,354 signatures necessary to place it on the ballot. Marcotte is planning a kickoff rally at the Capitol, where pastors and priests will be on hand to help married couples renew their wedding vows.

Marcotte also plans to reach out to the prominent religious supporters of Prop. 8, including the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He feels that from a biblical standpoint, there’s a stronger case against divorce than gay marriage.

“Jesus said nothing about gays or homosexuality,” Marcotte explained. “But his words against divorce are recorded in three of the four Gospels.”

It’s only fitting that local comedian Keith Lowell Jensen has joined the act. At his recent performance at Luna’s Café & Juice Bar, Jensen brought Marcotte onstage to explain his reasoning:

“They’re teaching divorce in the schools. I don’t want my child hearing that divorce is OK from the government,” Marcotte said. “That is not their role.”

Jensen said that the duo plan to stake out local Wal-Marts and Safeways “documentary style” to videotape people’s reactions as they read the initiative.

“I’m very excited about having the cameras out during the signature gathering,” Jensen said. “I want to see if the [people who supported Prop. 8] will go all the way.”

At least one religious group is simpatico. Marcotte received a letter of support from Mary’s Advocates, a “covenant marriage” organization in Westlake, Ohio, whose mission is to “explain the horror of purely civil marriage” and advocates for lifelong, Christian marriages.

But it’s not just religious conservatives that have taken notice; Marcotte said that on a recent radio interview, the deejays tore into him on behalf of women who were caught in abusive marriages.

Some folks who opposed Prop. 8 get the joke, but they don’t think it’s funny. At first, Paul Brown, a Sacramento native who now lives in San Francisco, laughed when he read about the Protection of Marriage Act.

“I get the joke that it’s wrong to impose our moral values on other people through the ballot process,” Brown said. However, he explained “a better way to address the issue would be to get people out knocking on doors getting people to repeal Prop. 8.”

“I don’t think plucking someone’s eye out because they plucked out your eye results in any clearer vision,” he added.