Tungtide

Marriage

Posted by tungtide on May 24, 2008, 7:53 pm

I’m late to the party, I know, but Deconversion needed to be the first blog entry.

As almost everyone knows by now the California Supreme Court ruled that a voter-approved ban on marriage between two people of the same gender is against the state Constitution. My wording in the last sentence was deliberately devoid of any mention of sexuality because the way I see it, there are multiple aspects to the institution of marriage and the ruling affects only one of those parts.

Marriage is both a religious and a legal institution in this country. The religious aspect of marriage is independent from the legal aspect, and often ties into social norms associated with a religion, or what society deems to be “morally acceptable.” When two people choose to marry in a church under the oversight of a priest, rabbi, pastor, or flying spaghetti monster deacon (not sure what the FSM equivalent of a priest is) it is because they are choosing to incorporate their own religious beliefs into the institution of marriage. In these cases the people involved often believe that god has chosen to bless this marriage, or will do so because of the conditions surrounding the union (in a church, married while still a virgin, etc.)

It is the legal aspects of marriage that make the argument for gay marriage a no-brainer in my eyes. There are rights and privileges available to married couples that are not available to unmarried ones. These include tax benefits, the ability to make decisions regarding life and death in emergencies, and the transferal of property in the event of death. While many, if not all, these rights can be established through other legal methods, the institution of marriage has served as a recognized right of passage towards obtaining these legal allowances. Phrased another way, marriage provides a means by which a large number of legal rights are granted to a couple and shared between them, in a simple predetermined contract.

Now, some states have taken it upon themselves to create “domestic partnerships” that extend many of the marriage rights to couples of the same gender. Does one coupling between two consenting adults have greater weight in the eyes of the law than another? Any marriage between a man and woman is granted equivalent rights in any state in the country, independent of race, religion, height, or any other irrelevant criteria. How then, does a coupling between two individuals of the same gender differ? If a state chooses to extend “partnership” rights to a gay couple it is creating a double standard, a separate and unequal institution that is designed to keep the “undesirables” away from the institution set up for the straight couples. I had thought that the separate but equal debate had been settled before I was born, but it has instead raised its head with a different group as its target. Furthermore, any domestic partnership that provides all the legal benefits of marriage is a marriage. A duck by any other name would quack just the same…I think I’m mixing my sayings now.

The point remains that while marriage was once dominated and administrated by the church, it is now as much a governmental institution as it is a religious one. In order to equally and justly apply the laws of the United States, all couples should have the right to marriage simply for the legal benefits of the union. Now, if these legal benefits were removed and religion was once again the sole keeper of the institution of marriage, they would be within their legal right to deny it to anyone not meeting their criteria. But they would also be heartless bastards.

With that being said I am willing to take this a step further. I am willing to support other types of marriage above and beyond gay marriage. Polygamy (both polyandry and polygyny), line marriages, group marriages, and any other combination of humans is acceptable if it meets the following criteria:

  1. Any marriage must, first and foremost, support the raising of children in its care. A marriage need not include children and need not be for the purpose of creating children, but the welfare of the children must be the first priority.
  2. All members must be consenting adults. This means that marriages like those seen in the FLDS that have fourteen-year-old girls marrying men older than their fathers are against the rules. We have a legal age at which a person is considered an adult and capable of making their own decisions (barring mental damage, defect, drugs, abuse, etc.)

That’s it, two simple rules – kids come first, and adults enter freely.

Opponents to gay marriage are fighting to keep people out of marriage when they don’t stand to lose anything in the first place. Their marriage will still be worth what it was the day before; only, more people will be able to share in the experience without having a direct effect on anyone else’s marriage. If a church chooses to deny confirmation to a person based on sexual orientation that’s their business (but again, heartless bastards). There are no legal advantages to confirmation into a church, so the law is applied equally to all people independent of the confirmed status. When the law is not applied equally to couples based solely on gender it is against the constitution.

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