• From same-sex marriage to marriage equality

    The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage… as it should have been always.

    The Court’s ruling was greeted with the #LoveWins hashtag and I do agree this is a win, a huge, hard-won and well deserved win.

    I also happen to think, though, we haven’t reached the marriage equality goal just yet — there are some steps to be taken:

    I think the government should get out of the marriage business entirely and that all “marriages” should be contracts between two or more consenting adults of any combination of sexes, with the terms, privileges, responsibilities, duration, etc spelled out in writing, and disputes arbitrated under standard contract law.

    […]

    [W]hy is the reason two people choose to live together, sign a contract together or have sex with each other any business of the government’s? I find the notion that a contract of mutual economic interdependence can only be drawn up between two people who boink each another to be just as inane, irrational and offensive as same-sex marriage proponents consider the notion that those two parties must be of opposite sexes. For example, why can’t two heterosexuals of the same sex make a contract to pool their resources, share insurance, secure inheritance, etc, without having to pretend they sleep together? Traditionally, marriages were given special rights to protect minor children, not to confer a special state sanction on people sticking their body parts into one another’s orifices; since many couples (hetero- or homosexual) nowadays choose to remain childless, why does it matter whether they have sex? And please, don’t yammer about “love”; not only is it totally legal to marry for money or other practical concerns, I also think it’s a bit hypocritical for a government which spends billions trying to keep some people from getting high to subsidize others making life-altering decisions while under the influence of mind-altering chemicals, merely because those chemicals happen to originate inside their own bodies. Furthermore, it’s highly discriminatory to subsidize only sexual love, but not fraternal love.

    Governments have no right to set any limits on relations between consenting adults. They should not be able to bar people from having sex, nor to require that parties to certain contracts must have sex. They do not have the right to control the gender, number, acts, frequency, duration, terms, reasons, compensation, or any other factors between adults who do choose to have sex, nor to harass them for their choices. And they certainly don’t have the right to declare that sexual relationships are only for people who are “in love”, or to give special preferences to those who are. Though Western tradition of the last couple of centuries increasingly frowns upon marriages contracted for reasons other than romantic love, it is not the state’s place to enact such mores into law any more than it would have been its place a century ago to legally require all wheeled vehicles to be drawn by horses. Sammy Cahn was right; love and marriage do go together exactly like a horse and carriage: traditionally associated, but not the only conceivable arrangement, and perhaps not even the best one.

    Maybe it’s time we acknowledge that the reasons between a man and a woman, or the reasons between a same-sex couple for getting married shouldn’t get a different legal status than the reasons between three men, or those between three women and two men or any other kind of configuration you can think of.

    It’s about time marriage stops being a couples’ thing. It’s about time marriage stops being exclusively about love.

    Now, that‘s marriage equality.

    (image: Wikipedia)

    Category: PhilosophySecularismSkepticism and Science

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    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • Ann

      You say:
      “I find the notion that a contract of mutual economic interdependence
      can only be drawn up between two people who boink each another to be
      just as inane, irrational and offensive as same-sex marriage proponents
      consider the notion that those two parties must be of opposite sexes.”

      Well, first of all, anyone who wants to enter into a contract (with these or any other provisions whatsoever) with (an)other(s) is certainly free to do so, and has always been free to do so, provided only that its terms are legal and enforceable. “This notion” (the inane, irrational, and offensive one) has never had a legal existence. “Mutual economic interdependence” is a fine premise for a contract if that’s what people want, and maybe there would be signers.
      It is possible that there would be few lawyers advising their clients to sign such a contract unless the client were legally obliged to do so (such as is the case with spouses.)

      Such a contract would be recognized by the government at every level, and enforceable by the full powers of the government, including — like every other law — the power to imprison and ultimately kill those in criminal non-compliance.
      (First a judge orders compliance, then orders arrest for contempt of court, then sentences to jail, then permits the police to shoot a person fleeing the jail.)
      ———–

      But I think that this is not really what the writer wants. There is no need to agitate for a right which has always been granted, and which is not imperiled in any way.

      What the writer wants is the legal status of “marriage” to apply to any group of consenting adults whatsoever, no matter the reason for the group’s existence. So co-workers could “marry” if they so choose, or roommates, or all the students in Professor Allison’s Calculus II class (Ma221 M,W,Th), or a team importing furniture from Alibaba for their own use … any group at all.

      I think that as long as these “marriages” are defined as “mutual economic interdependence,” then no one would know or care if tons of people entered into these contracts. Millions of contracts are already signed every day, most of them “mutual” in some way.

      It is only when “marriage” earns the spouses some economic reward that comes at the expense of the taxpayer that anyone cares who gets “married.” If a marriage entitles the spouses to tax advantages, for example, then the public has a legitimate interest in choosing what they will tax themselves to achieve.

      In addition, spouses may be entitled to certain advantages from non-government agencies such as employers. Again this now becomes the business of the general public, who decides what the laws will be which govern the mandatory relationships between worker and employer.
      —————

      The problem that widening the definition of marriage has always been this:
      It is a widely-held idea that the existence within a society of many married couples (one male and one female) is highly beneficial to that society.
      (1) It is seen as the best option that humanity has developed so far for the creation and raising of children — the power of the society to create its own future.
      (It is nowadays widely acknowledged that other forms of family may be successful at creating and raising children.)

      (2) A male-female marriage is widely regarded as the best way to turn people into responsible homeowners, workers, citizens, parents — the stabilizing forces of the social group. (It is now conceived that other constellations may be equally effective in doing this.)
      Unmarried (especially) men are heavily over-represented in prison populations, for example, and fatherless children are severely disadvantaged in terms of family income, school performance, IQ, criminal and other anti-social behavior, and poor adult life outcomes.
      So marriage is seen as converting self-seeking or loose-cannon individuals into pro-social teams. It is analogous to the Cold War efforts to convert nations into middle-class property owners — giving them a non-Communist, antiwar orientation.

      (3) Not only that, but single-parent families consume a disproportionate amount of other people’s money in the form of benefits and social costs.
      Welfare cash, food stamps, rent subsidies, clothing and furniture allowances, increased costs for special education and crime-and-fire control and other urban maintenance .. these costs and benefits add up (in cash and in kind) to the equivalent of an income of $50,000 a year, all without returning anything to the economy in the form of productivity, and without putting the recipient to the trouble of sacrificing her leisure, her labor, her peace of mind to a venomous boss and a miserable job (folding boxes or serving food at a truck stop, or whatever jobs women take when they are not corporate lawyers or pediatric ophthalmologists.)
      Every penny of the benefits awarded to those who cannot work because they are not married is drawn directly from the pockets of taxpayers, who actually have other things they would rather spend their money on — such as their own kids.
      Sometimes when married mothers go to work every day, abandoning their children to be raised by a peer group … sometimes they think that they are really working just to replace the taxes withheld from their husbands’ pay — taxes ironically used to pay some of the unmarried mothers to stay home and raise their children themselves. Sometimes the taxpayers think these mothers are not doing a stellar job. But mostly some taxpayers think there is something fundamentally unfair about this.
      No one has been able to come up with an alternative plan.

      (4) It is a common belief that the most happiness in life — the things that you reflect on with the most satisfaction and joy as you rock by the fireplace in your last weeks of life — come in the form of a man-woman heterosexual marriage and a couple of children.
      It is this belief that spurs parents into hoping that their children are not gay, and into urging them to marry and have children. The sadness that parents feel when their adult children have failed to establish such a family is the recognition that the greatest life happiness is now diminished, and significantly more difficult to achieve.
      (It is now considered that other forms of life partnerships may result in the same degree of life happiness.)

      (5) Some people have supernatural or religious reasons to favor traditional marriage. They perhaps don’t know about the variety of marriage and family arrangements described in the Bible, or they are thinking only about marriage as Jesus is said to have thought about it.
      ————–

      It is for these reasons that the taxpayers have decided to support and encourage marriage in the form of certain financial benefits — tax reductions or whatever.
      Really, the financial incentives from the government for marriage are pretty trivial.
      The other recognitions that marriage confers are symbolic or achievable by other mean, such as naming a beneficiary in your will, or appointing a health proxy

      some elements in society want to keep “marriage” closely defined.
      If marriage is re-defined to mean just anything — “any group of any size of any people whatsoever,” then it has been dissolved into nothing.
      Marriage would in a sense no longer exist. The special benefits that marriage confers to the society and to the individuals would evaporate.

      So those who consider that marriage benefits society and individuals, and traditional marriage uniquely benefits them are not eager to see it defined into nothingness.
      Other people don’t think marriage does confer these benefits, or don’t care.
      Some groups, such as Communists, actively want to disadvantage society and therefore want marriage and the family to disappear.
      ———–

      The writer of the article can already have all the features that he mentions. He defines them as “contractual” anyway, rather than “legally endowed.”
      So he is perfectly free to go ahead and sign any legal contracts he likes, and no one in the history of the United States has ever tried to impede him.

      In fact, I have to wonder why he would even write such an article demanding rights that no one cares if he accesses, and that have never been denied.
      ——

      So I think that what he really wants is to gain some of the taxpayer-funded benefits. The taxpayers have agreed to tax themselves for their own long-term benefit as they see it, in the form of trivial economic support for two-person marriage.

      They may or may not agree that other kinds of relationships among people confer sufficient benefit to society to make them want to pay the members of the relationships.

      The article writer is invited to make that case to the taxpayers, explaining that they need to tax themselves to support the contract which declares themselves to be “economically interdependent” that was drawn up by the members of the Funtime Community Theater.
      (Or maybe this is not his hidden agenda after all, in which case the purpose of the article remains a mystery.)

      Possibly the other taxpayers in the United States don’t care enough to tax themselves to give these people a tax break, but the writer is certainly free to try to convince them.

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