Tuesday, August 17, 2010

State-Sanctioned Marriage Is An Outmoded Concept (updated 8/22/2010)

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In 2008, voters passed the California Marriage Protection Act, an act recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman. This month a federal appeals court blocked an earlier federal court’s ruling that would have made California's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The outcome could bring the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, if the Court upholds the ban there is a risk the Roberts’ Court could make marriage equality laws in states like Massachusetts invalid. Whichever way a court may decide, the issue will continue to be a vastly divisive, unnecessary controversy.

Across America, like California, the assault on marriage inequality has been a debate over its constitutionality and opposition based on a belief that marriage is exclusive to one man with one woman. However, neither should be considered as central to the issue, for what is central to the issue is state-sanctioned marriage itself.

There is no history of when the first marriage occurred; but most likely occurred once man read the story of God taking Adam’s rib to create Eve. In the beginning women simply had children, progressing to marriage by simple affirmation (a family affair), and later by religious authority, evolving to the state granting marriage licenses with affirmation by a religious or civil authority.

In ancient times, tribes needed an environment conducive to safeguarding and perpetuating their lineage, and rules on granting property rights (women were considered property). It had to do with ethnic identity, preserving social hierarchy, property rights, and inheritance. Love was nothing more than an abstract notion.

“The Sixties” became the impetus for significant social and cultural change, but the perspective up to that time had been that women were created to be subservient, not equal or a counterpart to men. Therefore, thanks to Adam and Eve, marriage was a social contract imbued by religious values dictating that men reign supreme, and that a wife should look to her man for guidance in all things.

Today, there are gender-based partnerships and cohabitations other than marriage that need to be granted rights and protections. Even though the heterosexual act of procreation is important to our evolution, that relationship should not interfere with other relationships such as a man and woman cohabitating, partnerships of a man befriending a man or a woman befriending a woman, or the cohabitation of homosexuals. They should be afforded the same rights and protections as heterosexual marriages.

Since the social revolution of “The Sixties,” this has been the outcome of a world that has significantly changed. A change that has created paradigm shifts in thinking. A world in which safeguarding means more than protecting possessions and bloodlines; it is now a world where love and compassion define relationships. We have acquired greater knowledge of which has come a diversification of ideas and an open-mindedness that has rejected old taboos. Moreover, a financially dependant, fast-paced world where each spouse now need careers, where spousal separation for long periods may be necessary because of conflicting work hours, business travel and relocation, has stressed families and generated high divorce rates. As a result, men and women are living together and creating families outside of wedlock. For financial, and other reasons, more and more men and women are partnering or cohabitating and sharing their lives.

Consequently, state-sanctioned marriage has lost its suitableness and usefulness.

It seems to me, if at death one can legally will their special person or pet animal in life any monetary or physical accommodation they may wish, why then, in life can’t we find a way legally, comprehensively, and universally to accommodate all categories of partnerships or cohabitation to the same legal status as marriage.
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2 comments:

Jen Hancock - A Happy Humanist said...

I don't think that marriage is antiquated. It is a very valid concept that serves a very good purpose. Marriage is the recognition of a very special relationship between people. One where they agree to merge their lives, legally, fiscally and emotionally. It implies that you are taking on responsibilities towards the other person in the marriage. This is something simple co-habitation does not imply.

Also, in a marriage, if you violate your commitments you can be sued, again, not something that can occur in simple co-habitation.

And I think these two aspects of marriage are very important. I think the acknowledged responsibilities towards the other person that come with marriage is a VERY good thing that should be encouraged.

If we abolish marriage, then we abolish the idea that you could or should be that responsible to another person. I think we are just better off acknowledging that humans are diverse - we have 6 genetic genders xx/xy/xo/xxx/xxy/xyy and our externial genitalia do not always match up. Gender is such a messy concept that it is simply not a good way to determine who is allowed can marry who. Rather, we should be acknowledging that if individuals have agreed to take on the responsibilities for each other that marriage requires, that all the rest of us need to do is acknowledge that commitment has been made.

Horatio said...

Jen:

All categories of cohabitation that I categorized apply to an agreement to merge their lives, legally, fiscally and emotionally. It also implies that you are taking on responsibilities towards the other person. There must be an acknowledgement of responsibilities.

All of these categories, if legally binding, can also result in a lawsuit if someone is violating that to which they have legally agreed, no differently than in marriage.

And you are exactly on point: acknowledging that humans are diverse: that “we should be acknowledging that if individuals have agreed to take on the responsibilities for each other that marriage requires, that all the rest of us need to do is acknowledge that commitment has been made.”

If I am reading your comment correctly I think we are in agreement, but that you want to hold on to the marriage label. However, it can be labeled marriage or something else, it doesn’t really matter.

Thank you