SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- 'Til death do us part? The vow would really hold true in California if a Sacramento Web designer gets his way.
In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of Comedy Central writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California.
The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.
''Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more,'' the 38-year-old married father of two said.
Marcotte said he has collected dozens of signatures, including one from his wife of seven years. The initiative's Facebook fans have swelled to more than 1,100. Volunteers that include gay activists and members of a local comedy troupe have signed on to help.
Marcotte is looking into whether he can gather signatures online, as proponents are doing for another proposed 2010 initiative to repeal the gay marriage ban. But the odds are stacked against a campaign funded primarily by the sale of $12 T-shirts featuring bride and groom stick figures chained at the wrists.
Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22, a high hurdle in a state where the typical petition drive costs millions of dollars. Even if his proposed constitutional amendment made next year's ballot, it's not clear how voters would react.
Nationwide, about half of all marriages end in divorce.
Not surprisingly, Marcotte's campaign to make divorce in California illegal has divided those involved in last year's campaign for and against Proposition 8.
As much as everyone would like to see fewer divorces, making it illegal would be ''impractical,'' said Ron Prentice, the executive director of the California Family Council who led a coalition of religious and conservative groups to qualify Proposition 8.