Should we abolish marriage? [Rethinking Traditions]
Call me the devil’s advocate for the time-being because I’m going to start a discussion that could raise some eyebrows and maybe even change some minds about the current institution of marriage. As a fair warning, this is a lengthy article.
A VERY VERY Basic History of Marriage
Disclaimer: I seriously simplified the thousands of years of marriage history into a couple paragraphs.
Marriage started as a contract between two persons, or most likely two families, in which the husband could continue the bloodline and also have help on the homestead, while the wife would be provided for and raise the children. Basically, daughters were considered liabilities for families due to their lesser strength, and were just considered as “baby-makers”. Now, we all know that women are just as capable providers as men (and often more-so), but when marriage began thousands of years ago, brute strength and endurance were considered very valuable and thus men got the upper hand.
Another purpose of marriage is to have a consistent pattern of raising children and a single authority (parents). Men and women bring different qualities to the table and societies have recognized that both are needed to raise well-rounded children. Again, that’s a major generalization and we all know many married couples are incompetent parents. Just humor me for history’s sake.
Basically, societies across the world and across time didn’t just decide marriage was a fun thing. It had and has a specific purpose. That brings us to today.
Disclaimer: I’m going to focus on marriage in America because, well, that’s where I live. I’m also going to generalize A LOT. Just humor me. Also, this article isn’t about sexism or feminism. It’s about marriage, so let’s stay on-topic.
Today, muscular strength is becoming less important than intellectual skill. However, traditions stick hard and many of us still hold the idea that men should be the leaders of governments, corporations and families. It’s evident in the tradition of the wife taking the husband’s last name. It’s evident in the wage disparity between men and women. But times are a-changing.
Keeping in mind the traditional reasons for marriage, let’s look at why the government is involved. Since society has deemed marriage a good thing because it maintains consistency, which begets order, it’s in the government’s best interest to promote marriage. Having an orderly society makes governing much easier, right? But now America, and many other countries, are running into problems with marriage.
As we all know, there are two major challenges to traditional marriage:
- Same-sex unions: If two people of the same sex are attracted to each other and want to raise a family together, why should they be excluded from the ability to marry? Well go ask the religious leaders to explain why.
- Divorces: If half of all marriages now end in divorce, then is it even an effective institution?
Basically, same-sex couples want the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to civil marriages, but heterosexual couples can’t seem to stay married. While one camp says Problem #1 is devaluing marriage, who says Problem #2 isn’t contributing equally?
And then we get into the religious aspect. Oh goodness.
Religion and Marriage
Disclaimer: While I consider myself a conservative, I’ll also state that I always listen to well-stated arguments for all issues and will refine my position as needed. I’ll also say I’m a practicing Catholic, but that doesn’t mean I subscribe to ALL the beliefs of the Catholic church. Does that make me a non-Catholic? Does it make me a sinner? No, it means I recognize and accept gray areas. I recognize that I am not the judge, but that I can influence the decisions of others. I must be responsible for continually educating myself on issues because I am accountable for what I say and do. Oh, and I’m neither Democrat nor Republican; I’m unaffiliated.
Conservatives will say that same-sex unions go against God’s or nature’s design and are plain wrong, even sinful. Liberals say that everyone should be treated equally.
But is anyone actually questioning if marriage makes sense anymore? We’re attacking it from a morality stance, but forgetting that it’s an institution created by society, for society. Sure, it could be argued that marriage was created by God (in the Bible) only for man and woman, but that argument is only useful for Christians and Jews. So where does that leave the billions of others that don’t accept the Bible as truth?
Now that I’ve totally, and purposely, danced around the topic of religion and marriage, let’s actually look at the logical side of civil unions.
Marriage as a Contract
Regardless of the religious implications, marriage is first and foremost a contract. No one should try to deny that. From the first marriage in the cradle of civilization to the the Williams, Hernandez and Gothapotras who just got married 5 minutes ago, couples enter into marriage agreements because either they, or their families, consider them to be both compatible with and suitable for each other. They believe they will be stronger together than as individuals. This means each party feels they can get something out of the deal.
For some people, they want kids and a partner to help raise them. For others, they want to confirm their lifelong commitment to their sweetheart. And others, well, they want a tax break, a fast-track to citizenship or some other government benefit. Hey, it’s not always about love. Heck, some people just want the actual wedding and could care less about anything other than that single moment. Whatever your reason, you’re getting something out of the deal that you couldn’t get as a single man or woman.
Government and Marriage
So going back to why the government has a vested interest in promoting marriage (stability), let’s look deeper into the government’s involvement with this contractual agreement. The feds, states and employers promote marriage through tax deductions, credits and other benefits. They basically hand you money to get or stay married. As a man in a marriage that is recognized by the federal and state governments, that’s a big win for me.
Why would I want to question, and potentially lose, these benefits?
Four years ago, I had a somewhat heated argument with a friend about marriage. I was adamant that marriage is between a man and woman, and to allow gays to marry (or have the same tax and social benefits as traditional marriages) would destroy the meaning of marriage and thus the stability of our society.
But as I was speaking these things, I was actually thinking “I don’t want gays to marry because I don’t want to lose my tax and employer benefits”. No seriously, that’s what I was thinking. I bet many of you think it too, don’t you? But that one thought plagued me for years. Once it got into my head, I couldn’t think of a logical argument against same-sex marriage because 1) I don’t like to argue who is right based on religion and morality (gray areas) and 2) it’s selfish to want to keep these benefits just for myself. I was being ignorant to the fact that many gay couples are just as committed to their relationship as Stacie and I. Very ignorant.
So does that mean I think same-sex unions should be officially recognized by the government and receive the same benefits as my wife and I do? Well, let’s ask the following question:
Should the government provide ANY benefits to married couples, regardless of sexual orientation?
I’m questioning the whole foundation of government involvement in the institution of marriage. You see, since marriage just boils down to a contract, much like a business agreement, does government involvement in marriage go against our capitalistic foundation? In a capitalistic society, free enterprise and the market should determine the success or failure of ventures and contractual agreements. Marriages are certainly ventures between two parties, and marriages are contracts. Would you agree?
Imagining a New Marriage Concept
Picture this: You can still have your traditional church wedding. You can have a wedding on a beach. Nothing changes there because you still need witnesses to the agreement, and you might as well have a public ceremony if you want. You must still register your union with the state so it’s aware of the agreement. But the biggest difference is that both parties draw up and sign a written contract, just like a business transaction. And what bigger transaction is there than a potential lifelong union?
Picture this: You know you both want kids, but aren’t sure if you want to stay together after they leave home at age 18. What if couples could create a contract where they both agree to create a child, raise the child and then have the option to renew the contract after 18 years? The contract would outline minimum requirements for both parties, such as and financial obligations and disclosure requirements. It would also state penalties for certain actions such leaving the relationship (thus breaking the contract).
Both parties would have legal counsel prior to entering into the binding agreement. If the situation changes, then both parties would have the option to renegotiate the contract, but the other party is only required to meet the original contract. If the situation is dire enough, then the first party can break the contract but be subject to the penalty clauses. Courts would still be involved in marital disputes, but from a purely contract law approach. If one party was found to be under duress when signing, then they can be absolved of their commitment to the contract.
Societal norms and traditions would still be upheld in the contract. For example, if your traditional belief is that the wife should not work and should take care of the kids, then that goes into the contract. Your potential spouse would have to agree to it or else you’d have to find someone that does. If you don’t want kids, then that goes into the contract and you’re both bound to it. But then there would have to be clauses to cover what happens if you do get pregnant.
This idea seems to remove all sense of romance to a relationship, but think a little more about it. How many times have you thought that people should really think more before they get married? Well this is one way to provoke that thought process. More people would discuss finances, children, hopes and dreams before entering into this major commitment of marriage.
I ultimately envision, as we grow to understand and accept this new tradition, that we would have our pick of numerous, standardized marriage contracts so we don’t need to write our own from scratch with each marriage. However, I also expect some people would skip through reading it all and trust the lawyer just like they do with mortgages and auto loans. Ultimately, though, it’s your butt on the line if you break any of the stipulations of the contract, so you better read through and agree to all of it!
Since we would consider “marriage” just like a business agreement, and recognize that both parties are entering into an accountable agreement, then why shouldn’t any party, regardless of sexual orientation, be allowed to enter into marriage contracts, as long as it’s a valid contract by law? If there are children involved, as long as the contract protects the interests of the child too, how is it not better than families currently jumping into parenthood without proper planning?
I don’t know where that leaves the government benefits like tax deductions, etc. for marriage, but I personally think the government should let capitalism run its course and not interfere in marriages. As much as it might hurt me if I ever screw up on MY marriage contract, I recognize that I’m a grown adult and should be responsible enough to understand the consequences of my actions. And for the people who aren’t responsible, well, they have to deal with the penalties per their contractual agreement, or they shouldn’t be allowed to enter into the contract.
And that begs the question, why would people even bother with a contract? What stops them from just having a kid together without a formal agreement? Well, the same thing that stops them now: fear of being burdened with the responsibility of a child on their own. Whereas alimony and child support are government-enforced duties now, in the future, if you didn’t have a contract, you’re out of luck. The government wouldn’t swoop in and save the day…unless it’s a forced relationship (rape, incest, etc.). Then it’s a criminal matter.
In the end, people would put more thought into having kids (hopefully) because they would have to agree to rules, roles and penalties. And if they don’t have a contract, then anything goes and they would need to consider that too. You would still have people unfit to be parents having a child, but the child would have the protection of a binding contract (as much as the parents respect the contract).
There’s still many holes to fill with this whole concept, and numerous gray areas to consider, but I think it’s one worth looking into. It allows consenting adults of any orientation to enter into a marriage bound by known expectations, and to answer for their mistakes if they go against the contract. It continues on the tradition of marriage as a union between two parties for the benefit of both parties, and ultimately to society. In the past, this “benefit” was children that could carry on the family name and share in the burden of running the home, but as our society changes and children play a different role in the family, the contract notion would account for these changes.
Share Your Thoughts
I’d like to know your thoughts in the comments below. If you have your own site, feel free to link over and comment on it for your own readers to join in. Our society is changing and we need to consider the impacts of these changes to our traditional thinking, but it doesn’t mean we should throw all traditions out the window. Societies create norms and rituals over centuries and millenia for reasons, and to discard marriage entirely would be ludicrous. But let’s see if we can salvage the meaning of marriage while adapting it to our ever-changing culture.
Incidentally, if you some decent articles on how to get and stay married, consider reading dinksfinance. I know the author there. In particular, they have an excellent article on what to do if your wife yells at you.
However, I also expect some people would skip through reading it all and trust the lawyer just like they do with mortgages and auto loans. Ultimately, though, itâ€™s your butt on the line if you break any of the stipulations of the contract, so you better read through and agree to all of it!
Eh…give it time…the govt will bail these people out like they’re bailing out the people who took out risky mortgages without reading the contracts thoroughly…
For the past few years, I’ve tossed around the idea that marriage licenses – like all other government-issued licenses – should require regular renewal. You could even go with the standard 4-year period just like a driver’s license. The benefits that I see are: (a) it prevents complacency and taking each other for granted, (b) it keeps the health of the marital relationship and plans for the future front-and-center, and (c) promotes amicable divorce because if you can sort things out on your own, then you just let the license expire – no (or vastly reduced) need for expensive outside referees, ahem, lawyers. So I really like your pick-a-contract idea!
I believe part of the problem is that marriages have been reduced simply to contracts. I had a discussion today with my brother about this very topic. Marriage was around before governments… governments have simply created laws around marriage, not the other way. There’s a lot that could be discussed… I may have to take you up on the offer to comment on my blog, but I’d like to touch on two points.
First, if you believe in the Bible, then we see a model where God created man and women on purpose, and He created the idea that “the two will become one.” It’s not about sexism, but rather the fact that we are made differently and men and women have different strengths and weaknesses, which compliment each other. The world does change, but I believe that God’s model for a relationship between 1 man and 1 woman still stands. The divorce rate we see I think is a reflection of how people have compromised on the importance of marriage, and not that the fundamental design is flawed.
Secondly, it seems that the idea of gay marriage seems to center most on benefits that are not otherwise made available to gays individually. I have no problem at all with the government offering equal rights to gays. I don’t think I should get tax benefits for being married to be honest. But I also don’t think that the answer to addressing equal rights is the redefine what marriage is.
My perspective certainly comes from a Christian perspective, something that you admittedly had to skirt around a little to make your points. A non-believer may justify to themselves your points, though I think a strong argument could be made that the concept of marriage between a man and a woman can be made even in the absence of God. It seems apparent in the fact that all people groups that I am aware of subscribe to the same structure for marriage. I do believe though, and so I also don’t believe that I have the authority or capacity to question it’s design.
Thought provoking article…
Clever Dude says
@JB, good comment. You’re right that I did purposely skirt around the fact that God created only man and woman to be able to reproduce with each other, not two men or two women. But honestly I don’t, nor anyone else, have significant enough proof that gay couples can or can’t raise surrogate or adopted children just as well as hetero couples. Now, does it mean we’re hurting the children by allowing it just for the sake of finding out? Well, I can’t answer that.
But honestly as far back as we can see in the Bible, marriage WAS a contract, whether between the man and woman or the two with God (Adam and Eve). But we don’t live in an agricultural age here in America where the survival of the family depends on having a herd of big strong sons. It’s different now, which is why I’m pointing out that we may need to review our traditions a bit.
Clever Dude…thank you for writing this. I, for many years, have been looking for an eliquent way to voice my feelings. You seem to have read my mind. Mostly.
I am a gay man in a committed relationship of almost 15 years. It is a non-contractual joining of 2 people who love each other, respect each other, and enjoy life together. I have never been an advocate of Gay Marriage. BUT, I have been and advocate for the 1200 federal and state benefits that married couples receive. We do not have children. (I don’t like them). But that was a decision we made together.
Basically, I still don’t like the phrase “Gay Marriage” as I as a Christian believe Marriage is the union of a man and women. But “marriage” as it has become is only a word. I basically means 50% of those entering into it have the luxury of dissolving it. I don’t want to get married to my partner, I want to be recognized by my governments as a legal couple. Frankly, I’m selfish and too want the tax implications and survivor benefits. Call it what you want. Marriage, Union, whatever. Just treat all equally.
As for the the person who proposed the renewable marriage liscenses…great idea!
Thanks for the well-written commentary. Cheers!
Marriage is hard it has always been hard people were not meant to get a long 100% of the time life is a give and take . Sure we wish our husbands were handsome and wanted to make love all of the time and never yell at us . But we are not perfect either. That is the hard one.
We grow up in different houses with different parents with different likes and dislikes but their are times in marriage we love one another more life has ups and downs it is not always up .
Today thousands of children are growing up in one parent homes . It is a lot of work for just one parent to do children really do need ot parents rather they are divorced or are together.
First off, I think I should note that I’m not religious, so here goes. Generally, I think marriage as a concept is rather outdated, but marriage will never just disappear totally. The way I see it, is if you love a certain man/woman, that should be enough, no need to have a certificate ‘proving’ it. You can confident in the longevity and monogamy of it without having it on paper. Of course, my view isn’t really all that practical in modern day America, as there are numerous financial and other advantages to getting married, so it makes sense to sign the contract.
I’m glad I bumped into this article. It definitely shows a different perspective on marriage. Yes, modern marriage is nothing but a contract. The only thing that is the equivalent to the “old” type of marriage (before government interaction) is to stay with your partner for life (married or unmarried) and till death do you two part. If you can do this without marriage and without a contract, then you are reproducing ancient marriage.
Referring to Cleverdude’s comment on children, “What stops them from just having a kid together without a formal agreement? Well, the same thing that stops them now: fear of being burdened with the responsibility of a child on their own. Whereas alimony and child support are government-enforced duties now, in the future, if you didnâ€™t have a contract, youâ€™re out of luck.” If an unmarried couple does have children and the couple splits, the government still gives aid to support the children.
There is much controversy on discrimination with marriage. For example, marriage is discriminative against gays and single people for the legal benefits. Also, marriage is discriminative to women in regards to titles (Ms, Miss and Mrs). Who doesn’t see these rules as ridiculous? Why can’t gay couples be sought as straight couples? What is the significance of changing a married woman’s title and not the man’s? Why can’t single people be treated equally as married people? Would you say that marriage itself is discriminative?
If married couples pay no mind to the legal benefits, then they would have no problem forfeiting these benefits if marriage were ever abolished. For instance, there are over 11 million heterosexual and homosexual couples in the USA alone who have forfeited these benefits by choosing never to marry their partners. It is these unmarried couples who are what the government calls “stable relationships”, not married couples. It is the unmarried couples that stay together for life that are the most stable since 50% or more of marriages end up in divorce and separation.
On the topic of religion, if one believes in God and not marriage, can’t a couple ask God to marry them instead of asking the government?
Picture this: A religious couple gets married in a church with a formal wedding and is married with a priest. If after the entire ceremony they never sign the marriage contract, are they considered “married” by the church? According to religion, would marriage by priest (not by government contract) suffice since religion’s main concern is to avoid sin between two unmarried people?
The idea of abolishing marriage has come up. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think that since marriage itself is causing all this controversy, should it be abolished to end these problems? If so or if not, should it be replaced with something that applies to all people equally?
I like the idea of contracts but I think there would have to be a compulsory renegotiation every 5yrs or so because it is impossible to know what you would want out of your marriage if you have never been married before. Example- children. You may start off wanting three kids but once you had two you realize you couldnt handle more. This is a big issue because often times one spouse wants another child while the other doesnt. Example- work. You may decide you hate your job and quit to pursue your dream career and so your spouse who you both agreed in the contract could stay home, may have to start working. There are plenty of things that could change over an 18yr period in your life, so the contracts would have to be for 5yrs maximum. I think it may even be better if they were yearly.
Clever Dude says
@shrk, good comment. For your final question to me, I don’t think we should abolish marriage because there’s still very much a reason to promote monogamous relationships (stability).
@DarkEmpress, I agree that renewing every 5 years is a good idea as it gets your to rethink your goals as a person AND as a couple.
Clever Dude wrote, “I was actually thinking â€œI donâ€™t want gays to marry because I donâ€™t want to lose my tax and employer benefitsâ€. No seriously, thatâ€™s what I was thinking. I bet many of you think it too, donâ€™t you?”
I’m just curious – how would extending marriage to others hurt you, especially financially? Why do you think you would lose tax and employer benefits if other people in your office got married? Please don’t think I’m a troll – I’m really curious. I was married in May and couldn’t be happier, and the fact that gay marriage is currently legal in California has not adversely affected me at all. I still get my husband’s health insurance, we still get all the tax breaks, etc.
I am not threatened at all by the thought that the gay couple in the office are now automatically each other’s life insurance and 401k beneficiaries!
Clever Dude says
@BD, nope, not a troll-ish question at all. To elaborate on my statement, I thought that in the grander scheme, that gay marriage would devalue the marriage institution to the point that the feds and/or employers would stop trying to promote marriage, thus removing the benefits they previously provided.
Overall, I didn’t think the idea through well enough, but I’ll admit I’m nowhere near a conclusion about this matter, but at least I’m opening up my mind to other thoughts and possibilities.
Evidently gay marriages do not hurt straight couples’ benefits, as stated by BD.
I have been with my life partner (we are a heterosexual couple) for 13 years. We have all intention of staying together for life, but we have no intention to get married since marriage promotes discrimination.
My partner and I are investors. We get great tax breaks (better than married couples) because we understand and use the benefits of owning corporations. Corporations get the best tax advantages and their are loopholes to take advantage of.
As you can see, marriage is not needed to get benefits. Benefits are just a government incentive to “entice” people to marry since most people are employees and have earned income. Earned income is the highest taxed income. It is a standard and comfortable way of living for most people. My partner and I are happily marriage-free and as individuals, we don’t pay taxes at all.
Hi Clever Dude, thanks for responding. I don’t see how the government would find marriage “devalued” by voters expanding the number of people eligible for it. If anything, expanding the pool of people who are eligible to marry would make marriage support even more important to government lawmakers, since they are now trying to convince more people to take advantage of the marriage option.
To the extent that any inanimate organization can like something, the government “likes” to have stable, prosperous taxpayers who are contributing to their communities. Marriage promotes stability and community ties, so the incentives that you enjoy are not going away any time soon.
This was kind of a schizophrenic post 🙂 but interesting food for thought. All these points can be covered in a pre-nuptial agreement and I don’t see any reason why it should be mandatory for all who get married.
I think anyone who enters into a contract stating that they will absolutely not work, not have kids, have kids, guarantee to earn a specific amount etc. are crazy!
It is called life. You could be sterile. Your wife could have ovarian cancer and be unable to have children. Your birth control could fail, your spouse might want to have a career or volunteer for a year with the Peace Corps.
My marriage was a pledge to work through life’s joys and sorrows with one person. There was also an oral agreement to both of our desires to have children.
I don’t care what they call it, but I think same sex couples should have the same rights to tax benefits, automatic death benefits, hospital visitation etc as I do with my husband.
ha ha ha.. great post. I was also thinking somewhere around this topic, but not in this detail.
when my finances really drive me up the wall, I’d usually be thinking – ‘Do I really need this marriage?’, when before marriage I was doing very well all alone..
My personal definition of a marriage: An agreement between two people and God.
I would have no problem with the government butting out. I do like some legal involvement purely from the default chain of inheritance viewpoint in case the worst happens. Also, I think a couple should decide for themselves as to common property or separate.
I find what is suggested here ridiculous. As a person who came from a broken home, who divorced and then married the right person. My parents never bonded together. Their marriage was a competion. It was violent and damaged all of us kids in different ways. Their relationship was not what marriage is about and ended in divorce after 22 years. My first marriage started our correctly, but due to damage done, neither of us could keep our pledges. Influence from parents did not help. I divorced after 7 years. I took four years to get my life together. I sought help to understand who I am and what I needed to make my life happy. First, I sought counseling. Second, because of counseiling I could accept the concept of God, and committed my life to Christ. Third, I learned how to submit to God’s will, and not the damage done to me. My reward was a partner that was and is as committed to God as I am. And to each other as a successful couple. The two of the five children we raised together are happily married. Their children are well balanced and secure. The other three children were mostly raised by other’s, and did not come to live with us until their teens. They are divorced in their own lives and their children live with doubt and insecurity. They miss the parent that is not in the home, and have problems with the parent who is raising them. The problems are not because of society, but because of selfiness. When a husband loves a wife as Christ loves His church, the wife is free in that love. Not a slave, not a victim. But an equal, respected partner. The two become one, working together as a team to accomplish goals they have set. They do not need the government to interfer, license, or dictate how their marrigae will survive or end or succeed. The only reason there is a need for licenses today, is to keep records of unions. I don’t need, nor would I want the government to have any more power than they already have over families. Government need only become apart of the family issues, when asked to help. And then, very limited in what they can do. People need to take responsibility for their choices, good or bad, and stop being selfish, self center, and self absorbed. Families need to live within their budgets, rather than charge up anything they want so they ‘don’t miss out.’ Life isn’t fair. There will always be some one who has it worse or better than you. Teaching good work ethics and strong character are what is important. And if you don’t know what that is, learn. And if you do know that that is, teach. Don’t worry about what your neighbor has. Hard work will do more good for your night’s sleep, then the debt to have the same thing. Be helpful in your community. Volunteer for non-profit organizations, churches, and schools. I do not have a charmed life, but I have a blessed one.
Yes, gay marraige does deminish the state of marriage. When it becomes legal, it becomes a norm. It will be taught in schools as a normal thing. Parents will lose the right to teach their children about same sex relationships, according to their beliefs. Schools will dictate, what is a moral issue for most americans, as a non-moral. this will creat confusion and disruption in homes. I come from this with an unusual understanding. My father is bi-sexual, and I believe my Mother was, also. Their behaviors disrupted any hope of being “normal.” Same sex marriages are not normal. It defeats the whole purpose of marriage: Protection and stablity of procreation. No homosexual couple can have procreation without the counter part of the opposite sex, whether done in a lab or through sex. I don’t have any problem with them having a stable relationship with each other. I don’t care if they have benefits with each other. Just don’t reduce marriage to a life style choice. Living as a homosexual is a life style choice. I feel the same with about non-married couples who choose to live together. The removal of shame has made these different life styles possible, and becaue they are possible, they effect the success of a lot of marriages. Exploration has damaged more than one marriage. Every stone thrown into a pond causes the a ripple effect. We are now feeling ripples of years of stones thrown into the pond called life.
Caterina Pryde says
Actually, Jews do that already, and have all along. The marriage contract is called a ketubah, it’s usually a beautiful document, with a lovely painting and the hebrew in a calligraphic style. I’ll admit that the language these days is rather codified, but that isn’t the old tradition.
But I do think that marriage should not be controlled by the government. As you rightly pointed out, only Christians and Jews have a rigid 1 man 1 woman marriage concept, and even our early traditions were for multiple partner marriage.
There are other types of marriages- line marriage, and group marriage being just two examples. All these would provide the most important part, safety and stability for the children. A larger group can provide more stability, more parents to provide the income, the parenting, love and discipline. What most of us don’t know is that is exactly how it happened in many places across the US. Settlers frequently lived together, for example a pair of brothers and their wives living in one large farmhouse and farming the parcel together, and raising the children together. This happened again and again all over the country, being the best, safest way to manage. But it doesn’t fit our image today.
I think that marriage should be left out of government and- as long as the parties involved are consenting adults- people should be able to marry whom they want. Contracts made to benefit & codify that relationship should be handled as contract law.
I don’t think getting rid of the marriage tax benefit is useful though. I doubt anyone gets or stays married to save a few hundred extra dollars. In a 2 parent family, with low income, they may need that help, and I don’t want it taken away. I have seen families that chose to not marry or to wait because there was no health insurance for their children if they married.
About marriage: short comment – read the Holy Bible and what it has to say about marriage. What God in Heaven says is what we should live by.
The problem with what you have talked about is that you have turned the difference of the sexes into nothing more than external genitilia. Like much of society, you are arguing that men and women aren’t inherently different from one another and complementary.
Physically, we are complimentary. A man and a woman can only have true intercourse with one another. Two men can’t and two women can’t. As much as one might want to deny it, one can not argue that one of the most important aspects of sex is procreation. That is nature’s purpose for it, just like in every other animal. Same sex unions are physically different than heterosexual unions.
From an emotional, mental, and spiritual standpoint, men and women are also different and complimentary. Religion aside, for thousands of years, men and women have joined together to raise children and share a life together, evolution has seen to it that the best combination to raise children is a man and a woman, because ultimately, survival of the species is the most important survival mechnism in humans and animals and that means, having kids.
It would be easier from a purely scientific standpoint to argue for polygamy than it is to argue for homosexuality. In polygamous relationships, everyone lends a hand caring for the children, all the females and males. When it is a homosexual union, there is no male or female parental influence which nature herself put upon us.
Religion or no religion, homosexuality is a perversion and deviation of what is meant to be in nature and therefore should not receive the same benefits as a heterosexual couple.
That said, the rampid divorce and alienation of the children is an evil that also needs to be addressed and resolved.
There is only a “marriage tax benefit” if one of the spouses doesn’t earn income. My ex and I were married in a church, but didn’t fill out the legal documents due to the tax penalty. We had a contract. Everything was great until we had a kid. Then my ex got screwy. Now, 15 years later, I realize everything was a lie from the beginning-what he said in the contract he would do, the life he said he wanted to live, etc. We have a special needs kid, which of course we didn’t anticipate. Most couples with special needs kids end up divorced. What society really needs is men who are responsible enough to care for the children they create, regardless of how the child turns out, and who aren’t liars or mentally ill.
Just two things.
First, all the religious justification in the world for keeping marriage between one man and one woman is fine if that’s how you feel, but realize that not everyone is a Christian and imposing Christian views through what is supposed to be a nonbiased government is basically legalized discrimination.
Secondly, forget taxes. It irks me to no end that I have been with my partner for seven years (and I know people who have for over twenty), we are legally married (at least in California), we have both served our country voluntarily in the military, we love our country, we pay our taxes and we abide by the laws – yet, if I die tomorrow she cannot get my social security benefits. A male/female couple married for two days – or a legal citizen who just married an illegal immigrant who never paid into the system for one freaking day in their life, much less served in the military – oh, sure. Give them the whole effing cake, lock, stock and barrel – no problem. Why should I have to pay into a system that basically says “Go f**k yourself, you second class nothing!” to me?
Give me one good reason.
One thing I rarely see addressed in these discussions is the fact that marriage, as a legal institution, grants a certain group (married people) special privileges. I am speaking as a single adult who is not living with a partner. When I watch politicians speak, I am often struck that they seem mostly concerned with “families” and not with people as individuals. This country often leaves unmarried people out in the cold, for no apparent reason.
Some countries (Denmark, for example) have social structures that provide for a person from cradle to grave, regardless of marital status. Not surprisingly, Denmark was recently evaluated as having the happiest people. In our country, a person who is unmarried is somewhat invisible and lacks the credibility and social support that a married person enjoys. This is odd, since there are plenty of single people (many who are not in relationships). For some reason it is assumed that everyone will pair up and have kids, when in practice this is not so – and single people are often portrayed as either a) in perpetual and desperate need of finding a partner or b) sexually promiscuous ne’er do wells.
I find it disturbing that marriage has become institutionalized to the point where it is the perceived “normal” state and to the point where it carries massive societal benefits, even though it fails at least 50% of the time. Nobody in Vegas would take those odds (so it is ironic that Vegas is the capital of marriage here).
I believe we need to take a look at a lot of our basic assumptions about marriage and married people. Even if gays are allowed to marry, the underlying problems are still there. We need to reject the idea of giving special privileges to any group. This is exactly the same type of mindset that has given corporate america too much power. The U.S. sends the message to its citizens that marriage is really the only acceptable state for an adult person. With this attitude, no wonder gays want marriage (which I support insofar as they should have the same rights as straights). Hasn’t the conservative right thought of that? You reap what you sow.
I say there should only be individual rights and individual benefits and the government should give egalitarian support to all people. Marriage should be church-based (or ceremonial in nature only) and not part of any legal structure. Partners should negotiate the terms of their relationships amongst themselves. The U.S. should have socialized medicine that gives every American basic health coverage (I know many marriages that have stayed on the books only for medical benefits). The human species is generally monogamous, whether that be lifelong or serial, gay or straight. Marriage laws are not going to change this fact, and anyone who uses the argument that they will is using faulty reasoning and most likely has a religious agenda.
Most importantly: The U.S. Constitution guarantees separation of church and state for a reason. As far as the law is concerned, marriage is nothing to do with religion. But in political discussions about marriage, nobody seems to talk about that. Even if God cares whether marriage should only be between a man and a woman, the U.S. tax code shouldn’t give a damn. This is, again, just another symptom of the deeply ingrained attitudes we hold about marriage and what it means in our society.