Paul Hampton provided more details in the Sun-Herald on why the bill that would have added domestic violence as a ground for divorce died just short of the finish line last week in the Mississippi legislature. It seems an additional ground for divorce was added in conference committee that didn't sit too well with some members. Mr. Hampton reported:
A bill that would have added domestic violence as grounds for divorce in Mississippi died after House and Senate conferees added a 14th, less-palatable ground to the bill.
The bill sponsored by Sens. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula; Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven; and Jennifer Branning, R-Philadelphia, began with a 13th ground for divorce -- "one or more instances of domestic violence as defined in Section 97-3-7, if established by clear and convincing evidence."
That ground was further modified by an amendment from Reps. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, and Omeria Scott, D-Laurel. That amendment read:
"Domestic Violence: An intentional act where the perpetrator causes serious bodily injury to his spouse or attempts to cause serious bodily injury to his spouse, if established by clear and convincing evidence. 'Serious bodily injury' is defined as bodily injury the involves: (1) a substantial risk of death; (2) extreme physical pain; (3) protracted and obvious disfigurement; and (4) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a body part, organ or mental faculty."
Those changes required the bill to go back to a conference committee, where the 14th ground was added.
So far, so good. However, the ground that was added was not welcome by some Senators:
That ground would have been: "Willful and continued separation without co-habitation, with the intent not to return or resume or otherwise continue the marital relationship, for not less than two years. Either party may have a divorce based on this cause."Thank you, Senator Turner and the other 25 Senators. JJ attempted to find out how the Senators voted on the motion but was unable to do so since the vote was counted by division and not by a roll call of members present. The bill was going to pass until Senator Turner moved to recommit the bill. The black caucus then voted en masse to support her as did a few social conservatives and presto, the bill was dead.
But Wiggins said that didn't sit well with Sen. Angela Turner, D-West Point.
"She argued that people should stay married," he said. Turner moved to recommit the bill to the conference committee, that motion passed and the bill returned to the committee, where it died.
It probably never occurred to Senator Turner (She probably did not care) that an abuser will refuse to grant a divorce to the victim in too many cases. Some abusers are actually smart enough not to cause bruises or broken bones. They will instead make life a living hell for the victim. The additional ground for separation would have provided a way for a victim of abuse to leave an abusive marriage when the other spouse will not agree to a divorce.
JJ wants to give a big "THANK YOU" to Senator Angela Turner, the wife-beater's best friend, for giving another reason for Mississippi to hold its head high with pride:
Don't forget to thank Senators Brice Wiggins, Sally Doty, and Jennifer Branning for standing up for victims of domestic violence and trying to help them. A shame more Senators won't do so.
Kingfish note: Read the bill history. There are some interesting votes cast.