Target: Senator Sally Doty
Goal: Pass a bill that would add domestic abuse to the list of legal reasons for divorce in Mississippi.
A bill introduced to make it easier for domestic abuse victims to leave their abusers died in the Mississippi Senate, although its sponsor is eager to re-introduce it at the next session. Sign the petition and offer your support for a law that would correct a longstanding injustice.
Mississippi law maintains that there are 12 acceptable conditions for divorce (in addition to “irreconcilable differences,” in which both parties agree to dissolve the marriage). Although impotence, alcoholism, adultery, and mental illness are all acceptable grounds, domestic abuse is not. Most abuse victims seeking divorces tend to argue their cases under the “cruel and inhumane treatment” condition, but this carries a different legal definition and is therefore difficult to defend.
Senator Sally Doty introduced a bill to make domestic abuse acceptable grounds for divorce. It passed the House, which added a provision that two years of separation was also acceptable grounds. The bill died in the Senate, however, not due to the domestic abuse issue but due to the separation issue added by the House. Doty is therefore hopeful that the bill can clear the Senate next year.
Even though the outlook is somewhat bright for the bill, it can use all the support it can get. Sign the petition and express your support for protecting victims of domestic violence.
Dear Senator Doty,
I am writing to express my support for the recently-defeated Senate Bill 2418. I believe that protection for survivors of domestic violence is a key issue and I urge you to re-introduce the bill and continue fighting for it in the next Congressional session.
Domestic abuse is not only a huge violation of one’s personal safety and security, but a violation of the marriage contract. The fact that it is not already considered acceptable grounds for divorce is preposterous and disheartening.
While separation is also a legitimate cause for divorce (even the Bible grants that abandonment constitutes grounds for divorce), it is not as urgent a cause as domestic violence, where lives of abuse victims and their children can hang in the balance. Given that one in three women and one in four men in Mississippi are the victims of domestic abuse, the issue affects a large number of families across the state. It is imperative that the bill be passed as quickly as possible, and I commend you for your continued efforts on its behalf.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Allstarecho