Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Better Choice for Gay Marriage

I wonder if both sides of the argument are headed in the wrong direction with regards to gay marriage.

As it stands now, the states provide a one-size-fits-all social contract for marriage and many states are arguing whether or not homosexuals fall into that one-size umbrella. What most gay rights supporters believe (and I agree) is that whatever statutory rights a heterosexual couple have, a homosexual couple should also have, but I question whether or not the state should be involved in any marriages, gay or straight.

When most current statutes regarding marriage were drafted, there were very limited opportunities for women to support themselves outside of marriage and the marriage contract was the principal instrument for determining parental rights and responsibilities. The main purpose of these laws was to prevent men from abandoning their wives and children without providing a means for their support should he want out of the marriage.

Things have changed a great deal since then. Most women have as many opportunities to support themselves as men and the issue of parental rights and responsibilities have been defined in the law separately from marriage out of necessity.

The cultural and religious institution of marriage really is a matter for the individual churches to decide, not the state. If gay couples belong to a church that supports homosexual marriages, then that should be the end of it. If not, then perhaps they should join another church, or simply go without a religious blessing all together. After all, why should they support an organization which does not support them in return?

As for the more practical aspects of the marriage contract, couples can, and probably should, reach a social contract between themselves in a manner similar to other contracts without state involvement as well. Many people do this already with prenuptial agreements. It would be a simple matter of couples seeing legal council before entering into the contract to make sure their contract meets their needs. Certainly, most marriages would fall under the same contractual template, but there are many others that don't, and in either case couples should be making the choice of what their marriage contract entails individually, not following the form provided by the state.

Rather than battle over who gets to enter into these outmoded forms of marriage, I believe we should reconsider the entire arrangement so that it better suits the actual form of our culture as it exists today. If marriage indeed is a matter of choice for the individuals involved, then perhaps we should start over in our consideration of how the state gets involved, if at all. Marriage, after all, is a personal decision between two people and we shouldn't allow the state to supersede that decision.


ella144 said...

One of the major points for legalizing same sex marriage is to integrate those unions into the inheritance laws.

Common law unions, which are not uniform or in existence in every state, and other co-habitation arrangements can be broken by the deceased's relatives based almost solely on the argument that, since the couple wasn't married, then the partner is not an heir.

Pre-nuptial agreements are by name and definition contracts that define ownership of property in a marriage. If you aren't married, then you can't have a pre-nupt.

You can, of course, do what you mention in a Will, and make it iron-clad so your disapproving relations can't come along and try to break it, but most people do not think about drawing up a will until it is too late.

Disclaimer:(My understanding is based solely on the knowledge I osmosized (not sure that's a word) during my dad's legal practice, from mystery novels, and from the occasional episode of Law&Order. It could be drivel and should not be taken as legal advice.)

A. Boyd C. said...

That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. Couples should decide what *they* want in regards to inheritance rather than letting the state make that decision for them.

Bowcatz said...

I believe in giving things away before you die, if you can. That's what I am going to do anyways.

I do have a will just in case that 18-wheeler hauling forty foot logs down Highway 27 outside Utica, MS actually hits me head on or I die of something less messy like a sudden brain aneurysm thirty-foot up a pine tree in my climbing deer stand while hunting in Claiborne County.