To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing you today in regards to Section 519.02 of the Minnesota Statutes. In this section it states,
All property, real, personal, and mixed, and all choses in action, owned by any woman at the time of her marriage, shall continue to be her separate property, notwithstanding such marriage; and any married woman, during coverture, may receive, acquire, and enjoy property of every description, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, and all avails of her contracts and industry, free from the control of her husband, and from any liability on account of his debts, as fully as if she were unmarried (Section 519.02).
As I was reading this, the word that practically jumped off the page was the word "coverture." I do not understand why this word is still used in the Minnesota Statutes in regards to a married women's property. Coverture has a dark history in America, specifically for the women who lost their identity under the universal use of this word. A member of the Mississippi bar, Lena Zama, states, "Under the old English common law, when a man and woman married, they became one, and he was the one" (Zama 28). The word coverture denotes a continuation of English laws whose purpose was to shift all legal power (including property) to the patriarchal position. This, of course, is beyond sexist, but is also majorly problematic placing all the power within the husband's, or "the one['s]" hands. This denies a basic right of an American citizen, the right to own and govern their property that is rightfully theirs.
My using "coverture" in this section not only distracts many when reading the statutes, but also implies that we as a nation and independent legal entity have not moved on from these ancient, sexist institutions. What is even more confusing is that in Section 519.01 it states, "Women shall retain the same legal existence and legal personality after marriage as before, and every married woman shall receive the same protection of all her rights as a woman which her husband does as a man, including the right to appeal to the courts in her own name alone for protection or redress" (Section 519.02). This section that comes right before the section that uses the word "coverture" further complicates this issue. Section 519.01 uses the words "retain, "legal existence," and "legal personality" when referring to women and property. These words denote independence and a lack of coverture in current marriage property acts and statutes. By following this section with the word "coverture" simply destroys the truth in Section 519.01.
I purpose that the Minnesota Office of the Reviser of Statutes takes a new fresh look at this section and studies the societal implications that the word coverture still has. As I states before, this word has a history in the repression of women and a basis in complete contradictions within the legal relationships between men and women. This word must be stripped from this section in order for the statutes to be completely clear and rid of residual sexism in our legal documents. Please take these points into account and reexamine the word coverture in Section 519.02. Thank you.