Advocates: Kardashian Divorce An Argument for Marriage Equality
When Kim Kardashian, 31, and her husband, the NBA’s Kris Humphries, 26, married less than three months ago, the couple pulled down an estimated $18 million for tying the knot.
Now the couple is headed for divorce after only 72 days of marriage. The long money and short span of time associated with the marriage have family parity advocates wondering aloud, once again, exactly why the special right of marriage accorded only to heterosexuals in all but six states (and on the federal level) is viewed, and treated, as so sanctified as to be legally placed beyond the grasp of second-class citizens such as gays and lesbians.
Openly gay actor and marriage advocate George Takei send out a message on Twitter about the Kardashian divorce, offering a piquant take on the celebrity split.
"Kim Kardashian files for divorce after 72 days," Takei tweeted, according to an Oct. 31 Reuters article. "Another example of how same-sex marriage is destroying the sanctity of the very institution."
Anti-gay groups claim that allowing committed couples of the same gender to participate in marriage has a destructive effect that weakens families and society as a whole. But no mechanism for this supposed deleterious effect has ever been identified.
A separate Reuters article summarized the pecuniary ramifications of the short-lived union with the headline, "Kim Kardashian Divorce: $250K for Each Day of Marriage."
"I hope everyone understands this was not an easy decision," a statement from Kardashian said. "I had hoped this marriage was forever, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned."
That general line of apologia did little to soothe GLBT equality advocates, who took umbrage at yet another high-profile example of the "sacred" bonds of traditional marriage dissolving all too readily while gay and lesbian Americans continue to struggle with the facts of legal inequity imposed on their families, even as they pay considerable sums out of pocket that heterosexual married couples are spared simply by saying their "I dos."
By contrast, Kardashian and Humphries were rewarded quite handsomely just for walking down the aisle.
"In addition to free champagne, wedding cake, and invitations, the couple received $15 million for a four-hour, two-part E! Entertainment wedding special, ’Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event,’ produced by Ryan Seacrest," Reuters reported. "They also reportedly received $2.5 million from People for their wedding photos."
It was a payday without a lot of sweat involved, suggested Instinct Magazine in an Oct. 31 article.
"After all, weddings are fun, marriages are work," the Instinct article noted. "But the gay community has known this (probably better than anyone), because for the last couple of decades we have been fighting for every single privilege afforded with civil marriage."
Rather than proving a rundown of short-lived mixed-gender celebrity couples, Instinct opted to pose a single, simple question.
"When will the conservative right realize that the only threat to marriage is divorce--not marriage equality?"
Openly gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton tweeted commentary along similar lines, sending out the observation, "Straight people do a damn well good job themselves of ruining the sanctity of marriage!"
Kardashian’s husband claimed in comments to TMZ not to have wanted the split, or even seen it coming, and declared himself "committed to this marriage and everything this covenant represents," according to a Nov. 1 Fox News article.
"So now its Kardashian whose reputation could be in the biggest trouble, with many questioning whether she got married just because of all the money she could make from it," the article added. Fox News made no mention of marriage parity advocates or the glaring inequity between the legal denial of gay and lesbian families and the free-for-all of divorce and remarriage in which heterosexuals are legally permitted to indulge.
The article did reference a publicist, who explained why the divorce might not be as catastrophic for Kardashian’s "brand" as some observers predict.
"The divorce keeps Kim in the public eye and guarantees her another week of cover stories," said Gene Grabowski, who is with Levick Strategic Communications.
"Kim isn’t taken seriously by anyone," Grabowski continued. "Her life, like that of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, is a curiosity that gives everyday people something shocking to talk about at work, at parties or at the hair dresser. And it’s that surreal, vicarious, even reckless life that makes her image so marketable among young people who wouldn’t dare behave that way, but who are excited by the idea of doing so."
Others suggested Kardashian’s public would turn on her for exiting the marriage so quickly, especially after having made such a stunning amount of money from having been married. One divorce lawyer went so far as to say that the wedding had never been about any of the "traditional" values so beloved of those who claim that marriage must be protected from gay and lesbian families. Rather, Hollywood attorney Debra Opri said, the nuptials had been about money all along, Fox News reported.
"The Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage was always a business deal going in and will prove to be one, going out," Opri declared. "Look at the timing. They planned the wedding in world record time to occur during the NBA’s off-season, sold their wedding to the highest bidder (People Magazine) and timed the broadcast ’unveil’ to garner skyrocketing ratings.
"Like everything the Kardashians do, the marriage was strategically planned, from start to finish."
Comparisons to Britney Spears’ notoriously short-lived marriage were immediate. Spears’ first marriage, to longtime friend Jason Allen Alexander, ended after only 55 hours.
Spears later married, then divorced, Kevin Federline.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.