Civil unions & marriage

My sister and I watched the inauguration, and wondering about the changes to the White House website - there are a lot of promises made to the LGBT community there.

I think that maybe sis is more pessimistic than I am - and why wouldn't she be?  The law affects her and her partner directly. 

What I'd like to see are sweeping changes made to marriage and civil unions.  I spoke of it in a letter to my sister, and realized it would make a good blog post too.  So here it is - my thoughts on what I'd like to see happen to marriage:

Honestly, I'd like to see marriage completely re-vamped in America.  (And around the world)

I'd like to see the State take care of civil unions only, and these civil unions will have all the benefits, laws and regulations applied as are currently bestowed upon what we call marriage.

I would like religions to only deal with marriage, but a religious marriage will have ONLY theological benefits.  Any religion would be able to marry a couple, but if said couple wanted to file (taxes) jointly with the Federal Gov't, they'd also have to get a civil union.  And if the  couple wanted a civil union and not bother with the marriage - well, that would be fine too.  Let the various religions say that they are "living in sin" - it won't bother me a bit.

Actually, I'm somewhat bemused that even now a marriage performed in one religion is automatically recognized by another religion.  Different religions have different requirements and ceremonies, why should one honor the ceremony of another?  Why should Catholics be forced to recognize a Pagan marriage ceremony simply because it's recognized by the State?

Maybe the various religions will work out various organizations under which a religious marriage is recognized by other religions - in a manner similar to that in which colleges are accredited.  "Your marriage is recognized by the Southern Baptist Convention, but not by the Alliance of Catholics and Episcopalians!"  This would make sense to me because some congregations do grudgingly allow that other religions might also be "right".  And for those in the "one TRUE religion", well they can with the flourish of a pen declare the rest of the world a buncha bastards.  I'm sure the feeling would be mutual.

I would find it interesting that new converts to a religion would need to be re-married along with their baptism.  It should be that way anyway - why should a Baptist church be forced to recognize the theological legality of a wedding performed by the Church of Satan merely because the ex-Satanist couple decided to convert?

If Obama creates something that has all the benefits and laws of traditional marriage - including inheritance and Federal taxes - but he instead calls it a "Civil Union" and makes it available to everyone... well!  That's fine by me.  I'd love to see it.  And if an Atheist or LGBT couple wants to get "married", they could even go so far as to form their own church in which to do so - with the additional benefit that they could next declare the rest of the world to be "bastards".

I think that if a marriage is "religious" then it should only have religious benefits.  The State has no business granting any sort of religious benefits and should stay out of religious contracts.  Just as religion has no business in forcing the state to recognize religious contracts - including marriage.


Berlzebub said...

Princess and I actually had a little discussion on this last night. What I brought up was almost exactly what you said here. I think the government should only give licenses for civil unions which would deal with the legal aspects. Churches could then marry couples according to their beliefs, or the couple could get married outside of a church if no church would marry them.

Peter Sean said...

Would your proposal permit polygamous or polyandrous "civil unions"?

What about brother and sister civil unions?

Calladus said...

Poly marriage doesn't bother me, but I think it would be difficult to set up in a way that is legally fair to other families. There would need to be a solid legal foundation before the State decided to allow it.

Actually, I think that Robert Heinlein's concept of a Line marriage makes the most sense for a long-term stable relationship that is geared for the well-being of the family's children. A line marriage could outlive the children and there would always be both mothers and fathers for the children.

But in either of these cases, line marriage or poly marriage, I'm not sure that humans are selfless enough to actually implement these types of relationships without jealousy. I've read about the groups that pulled it off - but they require much more work and commitment than a standard marriage.

As for brother and sister - first, "ew". (I love you sis, but not that way!).

But in principle, I don't have a problem with it as long as the marriage does not result in offspring with recessive traits. I worry about the possible impact of recessive traits on society, and of the way that they would infringe on the rights of the members of that society. I think that the parents in this sort of marriage should rely on science in order to reproduce - perhaps that would not be any more onerous than in vitro fertilization would be.

My shorter answer, if two or more people are able to apply informed consent in order to agree to a partnership contract, they should be allowed to do so as long as the contract does not infringe on the rights of others.

Peter Sean said...

Do you have any concern for - or awareness of - the anti-libertarian historical experience that these kinds of family relationships engender?

For example - one example - Heinlein's line marriage supposedly grew out of the artificial, and otherwise dysfunctional, scarcity of women in the lunar colony. Line marriage was designed for that condition, but polygamy has historically created that situation.

Also, does your proposal dispense require or dispense with popular support? Is it something to be imposed from the top on those below by the "enlightened"?

Calladus said...

I gave the example of Heinlein's line marriage because it is a concept that I find interesting but for which there is little data. I also expressed my misgivings about it, and gave a possible reason why it might not work.

But you seem to be using a story premise - the scarcity of women in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" - as data. Perhaps you should investigate all of Heinlein's stories where line marriage is mentioned and incorporate their premises into your data too.

Who said that a line marriage has to be unequal parity? Some years there might be too many men, and some years there might be too many women. Perhaps it will all average out - I don't know. Perhaps we should study this? Perhaps we should allow some groups to make their own experiment - we could do so by changing the partnership laws to allow it.

I will agree with you that religious polygamy has historically created the situation of a scarcity of women. We can use the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a modern example. Boys are routinely kicked out of that community due to the fear that older religious leaders will have to share their harem.

But there are other polyamory community models - some group marriages have enforced parity, some are based on polygyny or polyandry. Perhaps these models would work when women are not treated as religious chattel.

I'll answer your last loaded question with a loaded question of my own. Is "popular support" always right? Is the majority of a State always right? Or should the State be concerned about the rights of its minority citizens? James Madison had quite a lot to say about this very subject. I consider him to be pretty enlightened.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious.
Polygamous civil unions.
Polyandrous civil unions.
Brother and (frikkin' GROSS) sister civil unions. (Sheesh, why do people have to be gross? Donkey, I love you, but seriously!!)

Why do people even bring this up? What the hell does it have to do with me? Or my wife? It's about the dumbest argument that ever existed.
For one thing, I'm not looking to have a relationship with more than one person. So the benefits of relationship recognition- the right to have physical, medical, financial, and legal access to one another is still only between two people. I don't want my retirement benefits to support my six wives if I die. Just my one wife. Like anybody else that has one wife. There's no difference except most people with a wife have a penis that is attached, and mine is in a drawer. (Don't get pist at me for getting gross- I wasn't the one that started it first.)
And what's with the incest thing? My wife is not my sister.
What's wrong with people that can't see the difference??
When they are executed with respect, poly relationships are very rewarding for the people that have them. I know many poly people- there's a big and supportive community of poly people in Portland. But extending relationship recognition rights to them will be very complicated when it is eventually addressed. It is not currently expected by anybody in the poly community, which is good, because people are so mean about the subject that I hate to think about what will be said about this community.
We are raised with the knowledge that if a brother and sister produce offspring, then the chance of producing undesirable traits in the offspring are very high. We are conditioned to be grossed out by this, and obviously, my brother and I are both grossed out by this. That’s a healthy thing for out bloodline.
So people throw the incest progressive argument in there for one reason only. It is It is their way of saying, "You're relationship with the person you love should be treated like it is vile."
Don’t try to tell me that there is a different motive unless you can show me the vast numbers of only children that hit puberty and say, “If only I had a sibling to be attracted to!!”

Calladus said...

It's the slippery slope fallacy Tanya. Same sex marriage invariably leads conservatives to start fantasizing about bestiality and NAMBLA. (I find that more than a little disturbing considering how many prominent conservatives are caught in the sex acts they protest against.)

Anonymous said...

No matter what you want to call it, civil union or marriage, the government has no right to not give citizens the same benefits or public titles that any other citizen can have or hold.