California’s Gay “Poster Couple” to Divorce

One of the same-sex couples who originally challenged the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California has filed for divorce.

NBC Bay Area is reporting that Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, one of the original 14 couples who challenged California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, have decided to call it quits.

The two became known as the “poster couple” for same-sex marriage in California after wedding in June of 2008. At the time, they claimed they had been going to the Beverly Hills Courthouse for seven years to apply for a marriage license which they were denied every year until 2008.

The two were among those couples who were allowed to remain married after same-sex marriage was made legal by judicial fiat in June of 2008 and the voters opted to ban it in November of the same year.

“I don’t know how to describe it – I wanted this all my life,” Olson told the Jewish Journal on the couple’s wedding day. “Every time I went to a girlfriend’s wedding, and when my brother got married, it was something I always wanted for myself. It looks like God must have wanted it for me, too.”

Well, maybe not. Even though Tyler said in 2010 that “Marriage is so important it’s the most important relationship that you can have as an adult when you get older” she and her partner are divorcing.

She claims the right to marry wasn’t meant to guarantee that gay couples would live happily ever after, but to provide a basic human civil liberty.

Tyler went on to equate her marital problems with those of heterosexual couples, saying gays and lesbians shouldn’t be held to a different standard when granted the same civil rights as everyone else. 

“What is the standard to expect when you integrate equality,” Tyler asked. “We’re just like anybody else and that’s all they can expect of us.”

Despite Tyler’s insistence, same-sex and heterosexual marriage and divorce rates are not the same, nor do they share the same standards.

For instance, a 2001 National Center for Health Statistics study on marriage and divorce statistics reported that 66 percent of first marriages between a heterosexual couple last ten years or longer, with fifty percent lasting twenty years or longer. Compare this to gay couples, where only 15 percent describe their “current relationship” as having lasted 12 years or longer, with only five percent lasting more than twenty years.

Same-sex couples also live by vastly different standards than heterosexual couples. It is a well-known fact that even in those homosexual relationships in which the partners consider themselves to be in a committed relationship, the meaning of “committed” or “monogamous” typically means something radically different than in heterosexual marriage. Studies have found that many self-described ‘monogamous’ gay couples report an average of three to five partners in a year, which is hardly comparable to heterosexual couples. The fidelity rate of homosexual men in committed relationships is only 4.5 percent, compared to 75.5 percent for married heterosexual men and 85 percent for married heterosexual women.

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