Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the marriage game

i have no idea what happened, but i wrote and posted a long entry about marriage. kept saving along the way.  just looked now, and it has totally disappeared.

the gist of it was: just as months ago i wrote a post on the irony of intensely supporting repeal of don't-ask-don't-tell when i do not support militarism, i am finding it equally ironic that i am so joyful about, and supportive of, gay marriage, when what i'd really like is the end of marriage as a legal institution, for anyone.  since it does exist, i am convinced that it must exist for everyone who wants it.  and the legal goodies that come with it shouldn't be withheld from a couple because their genders are the same.

i like some of the ideas that have become attached to the institution of marriage--monogamy, permanence, a love strong enough to carry it through difficult times with that same fierce fidelity.  what i don't like is the government being part of the business.  i would like for everyone the reverse of what we have achieved for homosexuals in some states.  public ceremonies acknowledging and celebrating a couple's commitment are lovely.  they should remain, always, an option.  this option can be played out in churches and other religious institutions, in one's own home, in a rented hall--however the couple chooses.  it can be, as weddings are, either simple or huge.  it simply shouldn't involve the law.  this would put it in the same category as other such ceremonies--ordinations of priests, bar mitzvahs, memorial services for the dead.

as i envision it, all the useful provisions that go into the marriage contract can be parsed out and offered separately, or in various combinations, as the particular situation calls for.  any adult who has children, either through sex or through adoption, needs laws to protect the children.  such laws already exist, but not only in marriage. a single parent is legally responsible for the care of their child.  a parent who separates from their family has legal obligations to help support and raise the children.  the laws around parenting can be expanded, clarified, whatever is needed.  other, less crucial but still significant legal concerns exist around who has rights to make decisions for a person unable through illness or injury to make their own decisions.  every adult should have some form of proxy, living will, etc., and the law should accept that. but the proxy doesn't need to be a blood or legal relative.  property sharing, etc., can be worked out by individual contract.  taxes should not be different for individuals who are married or who are single.

the institution of marriage would doubtless continue for decades or centuries after such a change in the law occurred [and since that could only occur in decades or centuries, no one is in any danger yet!]  i think it inevitable that enough people would choose the traditional way that the old legal contract could be maintained as one unit for those who preferred that.  they would simply have no more or no fewer rights than others with a more varied need.  and again, all the traditional forms of celebration would continue to exist in religious institutions or secular ones, as already happens....
and here, for now, I'm closing. part 2 will get done soon, looking at the 'marriage has always been...' narrative.  but for now, it's bedtime, and i want to sit here till this thing gets posted!

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