Marriage and the State

Posted in Just A Thought at 2:10 pm

I’ve been following the marriage for gays controversy with some disbelief. I have decided however that conservatives have a point. Religious marriage is between a man and a woman. (Secular marriage performed by a judge is between whoever the courts say it is and in the future it may change.) Religious, indeed all marriages, have no place in our legal system.

We should purge all mention of marriage from our legal code and replace it with commitment. We still need laws governing the legal obligations, taxes, and breakups of committed people; we just should not be in the business of legislating what marriage is.

Obviously if you get married religiously you are committed to each other. Same sex couples could also be committed to each other. More importantly, people who have children together are committed to each other. Government should be codifying this relationship – all children deserve the same rights and protections regardless of their parent’s marital status. Obviously a person can only be committed to one person at a time without a formal plan of breakup.

It used to be (& I really don’t know if it still is true) that parents didn’t get married because tax and benefit implications made marriage prohibitive. Sometimes people went so far as to get religiously married but failed to file the civil papers.

Marriage would still be a highly desired state. Since we live in a graphical age, perhaps each religious group could permit people married under its auspices to use the word marriage with an icon indicating the flavor – fish for Catholic, three stars of David for orthodox Jews, one star for reform Jews, cross for Protestants, lambda for the Church of Gays Wishing to be Married. Churches could then use the full force of trademark law to insure that their marriage is what they say it is.

Just a thought.

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