State fails to protect abused

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A bill adding domestic abuse as a ground for divorce has died in a legislative committee.

Senate Bill 2703, which passed the Mississippi Senate, wasn’t taken up Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee Division B at a deadline for legislation to move ahead, The Associated Press reported. The bill was authored by Sen. Sally Doty, among others.

We understand the concerns of Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, who said the state should encourage married couples to stay together rather than divorce. In a better world, we’d agree. But Gipson’s ideals leave women (and sometimes men) stuck in dangerous marriages.

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Mississippi currently has 12 grounds for divorce, including adultery, impotence and habitual drunkenness. But people can struggle to divorce if both spouses don’t consent.

The Senate bill would have added domestic violence to the ground of “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment.” The ground of “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment” can be difficult to prove. But a police report detailing a complaint of domestic violence would be much simpler for a spouse seeking to divorce due to violence.

Is one punch in the face “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment?” Probably not, but no one should be stuck in a marriage where that occurs, even once.

It’s not that we desire to see more divorces in the state, but the need to protect abused spouses is greater than the desire to preserve abusive marriages.