The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Civil Unions vs Marriages

I think this whole gay marriage issue is being handled all wrong. The problem is that the state recognizes marriages at all. It shouldn't. Marriage is a religious institution. The state's interest in marriage is only in the handling of property and ownership of property by one or more persons. I don't know that it is possible but I believe that government should simply look at all current marriages as "civil unions". That is, as financial relationships or partnerships. It should purge the word "marriage" from its laws and legal definitions, replacing that term with "civil union." A "civil union" could then have all the rights and privileges under the law that "marriages" do today. If a couple still wanted to be "married" then they could petition any religious organization of their choice to bestow that status upon them. This solution is aligned with the concept of separation of church and state, and I think it can resolve all the related problems of medical consent, property rights, inheritance, and so on. It truly makes all people equal under the law in this regard. New couples wishing to be legal in the eyes of the state would merely have to register as a civil union, no formal ceremony would be necessary.

The concept of marriage has always been a religious one. Human beings have always paired up, for the most part, with a minority of societies advocating multiple spouses. Even within those societies, I believe polygamy was practiced primarily by the privileged, the elite. The vast majority of marriages have been between one man and one woman. The average man and woman view marriage as a partnership even though it was traditionally an unequal one. Religion defined the marriage contract for virtually all societies. Since governments were often partners with the societies' religious factions, marriage was left to the church. The merely recognized the union.

The U.S. was possibly the first to formally establish a separation of church and state by eschewing a state sanctioned religion. Over the years, we moved from a "wink and a nod" regarding the concept to court rulings essentially codifying it. Yet we did not truly separate the two when it came to marriage. We should. A marriage, so far as the state is concerned is a melding of two sets of assets. That is, a combining of the property of two people. The state's interest in marriage is also one regarding a stable society, the family being the basic unit of any society. However, this nation saw the individual as the basic unit and simply accepted the family on tradition. It may be the right time to change.

Having the state regard all current marriages as "civil unions" is more a matter of semantics than anything else. The church will still recognize marriage. the individuals can still refer to themselves as married. But the state doesn't need to. Its only real concern is the distribution of the common property if, or when, the relationship is dissolved. Renaming marriages as civil unions will not affect that. What it will do is bring the non-traditional social partnerships under the same rules as marriage is today.

[Addendum as of 11/16/08]
Other views worth reading which both argue against and help prove my point.


Argentum Vulgaris said...

Quite agree Douglas, although in the last few years, my marriage was anything but a "civil" union. LOL


Libra Me said...

Interesting concept. I think marriage, or the defining qualities of marriage, have very little to do with religious, or any other kind of ceremonies anyway. If two people assume certain responsibilities and commitments and share common emotional, physical and fiscal duties, they have created a marriage/civil union whether they declare it or not.

Douglas said...

I agree with you completely. And that is the main point of the piece; what does it matter what it is called so long as the people involved understand the commitment? The state's only interest is in the fiscal partnership (property ownership). The religious institution is the entity that defines the spiritual meaning and that has been always called "marriage", something I have always considered a "blending of souls into one."

Steven said...

I just read the first sentence or two and hit the add comment button. Yes. Government can enforce contracts, and marriage is a contract, but that's as far as they should be involved.

This is my libertarian argument to this debate, and I've found little disagreement besides "b-b-but that's not how things are!"

The Logisitician said...

This is very interesting Douglas. Very interesting. Since I have a secular mind, it immediately appeals to me. I would have to think about it further before labeling it a "solution;" however, you may have something here.

I posted a new post, No. 66c, about same sex marriage, prior to reading yours. I wish that I had read your piece first. I would definitely like to include it in my blog in some fashion.

Perhaps it might be best for you to mention it in one of your comments and provide a link for folks to read your original Oct 31 article.

Don't hesitate to propose a Guest Article at any time.

The Logisitician said...

By the way, read your piece on your new computer. In trying to get to your Oct 31 piece, it took me some time. You're pretty prolific. I'll come back and visit more once I'm finished with this project which has me driving almost 400 per day.

Douglas said...

Log, you are the second person (maybe the third or fourth) who have termed me "prolific" in the last few days. I am getting the impression that this is a euphemism for "blathering on constantly." That may be true. Especially in the last few days. I will go for days at a time where I have nothing to say, though that hasn't happened recently. I have a number of essays in the works at this time. Some of them simply do not belong on this Blog (too seriously philosophical) but some will make it.

nata said...
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nata said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Douglas said...

nata, let me make this clear to you. I do not allow any advertising, regardless of the type, in comments. Continue to leave this same canned comment and I will block you from leaving any comments whatsoever.

Douglas said...

Whoever it is who is posting (or trying to)comments as "anonymous" needs to 1- Stop trying and 2- contact me through the email link in my profile. The comments are being caught by the spam filter and rejected. Since you do not identify yourself or leave a email address, I cannot contact you.