Thursday, February 23, 2006

Yet another reason to abolish the legality of marriage

I found this story via Radley Balko's "The Agitator." It is about an unmarried couple who have been together for thirteen years raising three children. They recently moved from Minniapolis to Black Jack MO and were denied an occupency permit because of an ordinance prohibiting more than three people to live together without ties of marriage, blood or adoption. They were subsequently questioned for an hour about their personal relationship by the city council who then denied their appeal - their next stop is in court.

This is just another example of the inherent discrimination of marriage as a legal institution. I have spoken briefly before about my feelings on marriage. It is a religious institution and should have no legal bearing. People who wish to share in the legal benifits, currently afforded married couples, with their domestic partner should be able to regardless of there gender, religious preferences or desire to be "married." These civil unions should be the only such unions recognized by the state or any court of law. Those who wish to be married are free to do so in accordence with their beliefs but the state has absolutey no reason to recognize or provide any legal standing to said union. If the married couple wishes to enjoy the legal benifits of their relationship they should also have to get a civil union for said recognition.

If one looks at this idea objectively it is not nearly as radical as it sounds. The ability to gain legal benifits for a domestic partnership from a civil union rather than marriage would signifigantly reduce the divorce rate and go a long ways toward truly protecting or I would call it renewing the sanctity of marriage. With the sharp increase in the divorce rate of the 70s and the 80s a lot of people in my generation lost all respect and confidence in marriage as an institution. It has been merely a legal ploy for many people in the last few decades, rather than a sacred and beautiful union. With so many folks crying about "saving" marriage it really seems to be for the best. Removing the legal need for marriage would go a long ways toward renewing it as a sacrement, as an expression of love and sacred trust rather than a tax advantage or legal ploy.

8 comments:

Beth said...

I am not quite sure where you think the people in your example who aren't married would have bothered to get a civil union to have the legal benefits. To me, its semantics. People do not need a church to get married.

DuWayne Brayton said...

I would imagine that while they seem to have an issue with marriage they might not with civil unions. It is semantics but it's semantics that means a lot to some people. Many people seem to object to gay's getting married - is that just semantics? I would argue yes seeing as a lot of those same people don't have a problem with gay's in civil unions getting the same benifits that a married couple has. I think it would eliminate a lot of these problems, semantic in nature, if the legality of marriage was abolished and civil unions were the law for any domestic partners who wish the legal benifits of their relationship. It would certainly eliminate the majority of the discrimanation stemming from the legality of the institution of marriage.

I will admit that a far more stringent legal standard should be used to strike down an obviously ridiculous ordinance like the one in Black Jack. I just happen to also see it as another example of using marriage to discriminate against non-traditional families, something that is destructive to the children involved.

Beth said...

I'm not sure how you can assume that those people would get a civil union if they haven't bothered to get married, and also how you can assume that more civil unions would mean fewer divorces.

Whether it be a civil union or a marriage, the simple fact is it is a commitment that should not be taken lightly, especially when children are involved, and this is coming from someone who was at the brink of wanting to end her marriage but I am glad that I had that commitment that kept me from hurting my family.

DuWayne Brayton said...

If people do not get married they need not get a divorce - that simple. Marriage is traditionaly a religious institution and should be left out of the legal system. I know a lot of people who would like the legal benifits of marriage but object to marriage for any number of reasons. Some of them break down and get married others just live without those benifits. I am not assuming that, that particular couple would in fact get a civil union but it would give them an option outside of an institution they apparently disagree with.

I would be thrilled if people made better decisions in regards to domestic relationships - especialy when kids are involved. But that is not reality - people, including myself, are not neccesarily responsible about those decisions. I am quite certain that given the choice a lot of folks would opt for a civil union instead of marriage. Most folks getting married would be likely to be those with a firm foundation in their relationship, choosing to sanctify their relationship in matrimony because they truly wish a lifelong commitment. As apposed to just wanting the legal benifits that go with marriage right now.

Beth said...

If people who have a civil union don't wish to be together anymore, and want to break their union, just because you may not call it a "divorce" doesn't mean that it isn't the exact same thing. Again, its semantics.

Anonymous said...

'It is a religious institution and should have no legal bearing. People who wish to share in the legal benifits, currently afforded married couples, with their domestic partner should be able to regardless of there gender, religious preferences or desire to be "married'

This is totally 100% false. marriage is not a religious institution. Religion copted the idea from contract law. To say it is a religious institution is to be an ostrich in the sand. Religions apply various values and meanings to the contract but that is what it is and always has been. Marriage existed well before any form of Christianity.

A civil union is still a government santioned contact and would have to be legally broken just as a divorce ends a marriage.

If you don't want to marry don't, shack up. Marriage in all it;ss form is supposed to be a life long committment. It isn't so for shacking up.

Thats not semantics. It's reality.

Eamon said...

Marriage, as with money, only exists when people acknowledge its existence. If we all chose not to acknowledge grizzly bears as existing, guess what, grizzly bears would still eat us because their existence does not depend on our acknowledgment. If on the other hand we universally chose not to recognize the institution of marriage, guess what, it wouldn’t exist at all. Marriage is not a naturally occurring phenomena, it is a social construct. Its existence depends exclusively on our declaration of it being real.

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Marriage is very sacred and I don't agree in abolishing the legality of marriage.