Gay Marriage, Like All Marriage, Not Worth Celebrating

Beware of governments granting the "right" to enter onerous lifelong contracts.

Back in the days when there was an identifiable counter-cultural movement in the United States, feminists, gay activists, and much of the left identified the institution of marriage as the foundation of conservative American culture and therefore something to oppose, not seek. But now, with more and more gays gaining official permission to marry, the left is celebrating a right that it used to compare with the right to be imprisoned. 

Those who consider themselves to be the descendants of the counter-cultural left are hailing President Barack Obama’s sudden embrace of gay marriage as a great victory not just for equality and civil rights but also for freedom. Yet historically, those who invented and promoted legal marriage did so with the explicit purpose of restraining the liberty of all of us. Were Emma Goldman, Allen Ginsberg, and the drag queens who threw bricks at the cops at the Stonewall Inn alive today, they might well say that Americans have all become “the Man.”

The idea that the state should promote, sanction, and regulate monogamous relationships gained currency in the 16th century as a reaction to Europe’s first sexual revolution. Public, group, and what we now call homosexual sex were commonplace, prostitution was rampant and generally unpunished, pornographic books and pamphlets were widely popular, and laws against adultery and divorce went unenforced. Martin Luther and other leaders of the Protestant Reformation seized upon marriage as a means though which to curb unchristian freedoms and bring about social order. 

Luther recognized that “he who refuses to marry must fall into immorality,” identified marriage as “the remedy against sin,” and demanded that all of humanity seek the cure “in order that fornication and adultery may be avoided as well as pollutions and promiscuous lusts.” 

Until then, the Church alone had recognized and overseen marriages, but Luther and the reformers wanted a more powerful and “worldly” enforcer of God’s laws. Marriage, they said, belonged under the purview of “temporal government,” which “restrains the un-Christian and wicked so that—no thanks to them—they are obliged to keep still and to maintain an outward peace.” Moved by these injunctions, governments across Protestant Europe seized control over marriage and instituted rules to enforce it. 

On this side of the Atlantic, shortly after the ratification of the Constitution, the newly-formed states, acting in their own professed self-interest, enacted laws that made it more difficult to end marriages. Typical was the view of Georgia state legislators, who in 1802 responded to their inability to stop the “dissolution of contracts founded on the most binding and sacred obligations” by drafting a law regulating divorce. According to the lawmakers, the “dissolution [of a marriage] ought not to be dependent on private will, but should require legislative interference; inasmuch as the republic is deeply interested in the private business of its citizens.” 

Other state governments followed that lead. By the end of the 19th century it was nearly impossible in all the states to dissolve a marriage unless one upheld what one historian has called “ideal spousal behavior” and one’s spouse was adulterous, sexually dysfunctional, or chronically absent. No longer could an unhappy wife or husband simply walk away from a marriage.

American lawmakers in the 19th century widely concurred with the legal scholar Joel Prentiss Bishop, considered to be the “foremost law writer of the age” and the author of the then preeminent legal treatise on marriage, who considered “too absurd to require a word of refutation . . . the idea that any government could, consistently with the general well-being, permit this institution to become merely a thing of bargain between men and women, and not regulate it.” This question gained new urgency during the Civil War, when slaves, who had no legal right to marriage, were suddenly prospective citizens. A Union officer charged with educating the freedmen testified to Congress that 

one great defect in the management of the negroes down there was, as I judged, the ignoring of the family relationship . . . My judgement is that one of the first things to be done with these people, to qualify them for citizenship, for self-protection and self-support, is to impress upon them the family obligations.

The Union government required that all newly freed slaves under its care in refugee camps “who have been living or desire to live together . . . be married in the proper manner.” 

After the war, administrators of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who were charged with making the ex-slaves conform to American norms, were ordered to coerce their charges into marriage so as to bring them into civilization: 

The past marriages of freedmen, although often formally solemnized, have not been so authenticated that misconduct can be legally punished, or inheritance rightly determined. It is most urgently and plainly needful that this out growth of a by gone system should now cease. A general re-marriage (for the sake of the record) of all persons married without license, or living together without marriage should be insisted upon by employers and urged by all who have any connection with, or knowledge of such persons. They should know that, if after ample facilities have been for some time afforded, they have not conformed to this necessity of social life, they will be prosecuted and punished.

The Bureau issued “Marriage Rules” to “aid the freedmen in properly appreciating and religiously observing the sacred obligations of the marriage state.” The rules not only granted the right to marry to ex-slaves but also established high barriers to obtain a legal divorce.

Dissolving a marriage became slightly less onerous in the 20th century, thanks largely to the aforementioned counter-cultural left, but the institution’s state-sanctioned moral apparatus continued to keep most of us from pursuing our individual desires. As of the most recent count [pdf], 48 percent of married couples are willing to pay lawyers bundles of cash to disentangle from relationships they no longer see as serving their interests. Even today, we pay dearly for that option, not just in legal fees but also from the stigma of having “failed” at what all good Americans are expected to do.

So let us say to our gay brothers and sisters fighting for the “freedom to marry,” who once led the fight for freedom from marriage: be careful what you wish for—you’ll probably get it.

Thaddeus Russell is the author of A Renegade History of the United States (Free Press).

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  • SIV||

    All gay marriage, all the time.

  • T o n y||

    Yes it is quite ironic that the left is championing access to a conservative and historically religious institution. But it's also quite absurd that any straight couple can enter that sacred institution on a whim via the blessing of an Elvis impersonator. Barring the utopian outcome of marriage being abolished, it should be sanctioned for all consenting adult couples, gay or straight. It's not really about marriage, but recognition of the inherent humanity and equality of gay people by a government that is fundamentally charged with promoting equal rights.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Barring the utopian outcome of marriage being abolished

    Lots of things that right-thinking people dismissed as "utopian" when I was young are now commonplace.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I always laugh when a liberal bitches about "utopianism". The irony is self-basting.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Yes, I've noticed that, too.

  • T o n y||

    I don't know which liberals you are referring to but I am explicitly not Utopian.

  • Thomas O.||

    I always laugh when a social conservative bitches about how homosexuality will destroy the family institution, or that gay marriage will bring society to ruin.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    So we should refrain from righting a small injustice now, in hopes that it may possibly made moot sometime in the far future? That logic work for other things? "Yes, it would be a shame to unfairly tax millionaires, but hopefully someday the income tax will be eliminated in completely, so in the meantime there's no need to lower yours." "Yes, it's horrible how police beat people without provocation, but hopefully in the future law enforcement will be privatized, so in the meantime there's no need to hold them accountable"

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If ALL couples had ALL of the domestic-partnership/civil union-style legal benefits, the gay marriage argument would be reduced to "should any religious institution be forced to perform now-purely symbolic marriage ceremonies?".

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If ALL couples had ALL of the domestic-partnership/civil union-style legal benefits, the anti-gay marriage argument would be reduced to "should the government be legislating entirely symbolic word choices?".

  • Mr. FIFY||

    In which case, the argument is moot.

    Nice use of "anti-gay" to mean "anyone who has any objection to the state being involved in marriage", though. Are you a lobbyist?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    That was anti-(gay marriage) not (anti-gay) marriage.

  • R C Dean||

    Stormy, the answer to your question would be "no."

  • T o n y||

    If all couples had exactly the same legal rights and benefits (including at the federal level) then there would be no controversy. Surely we can at least agree that such rights do not exist equally for straight and gay couples, and that, say, DOMA should be repealed.

    I don't care what word the statutes use. You guys seem awfully preoccupied with it though.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And you're NOT preoccupied with it?

    But you touched on the solution - if unwittingly - by your first sentence, Tony. Why not push for that instead?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And I have to unwillingly agree with you about repealing DOMA, but unlike you that would not be the only thing I'd want repealed.

  • R C Dean||

    I don't care what word the statutes use.

    Me neither. Gay activists have opposed the use of the term "civil unions" to create legal equality, demanding the magic word "marriage", so maybe you should address your comment to them.

  • T o n y||

    Maybe you should address your inexplicable panties twisting over the word "marriage" to the heterosexual couples who like using it just fine. Ask them to give it up and then there will be no equality issue, assuming gays can even get civil unions.

  • Thomas O.||

    It would be symbolic in the eyes of the law, actually. As it stands now, sanctity is in the eye of the religious beholder. A Catholic toddler may be baptized, but evangelical denominations wouldn't recognize that baptism as valid.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Why was Obama only for gay marriage, just last week? If he's the progressive icon your Team has been waiting for lo these many decades, he would have had that mindset from Day One of his political career.

    Or was he just waiting for the right moment to announce his "enlightenment"?

  • WWNGD?||

    You make it sound as if politics is political.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Shocking, isn't it?

  • T o n y||

    He threw gays under the bus for political benefit. It's not the first time it's happened. Clinton was far worse. Now Obama's the first sitting president to endorse gay marriage. Not all of us have the luxury of living in a world where only ideals are acceptable.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If Obama was one progressive who *just now* got on board the gay-marriage train, then he must have been an anti-gay marriage bigot up until just a few days ago.

    And it's supposedly unpossible for progressives to be bigots.

  • T o n y||

    I don't see why I should be held responsible for your obtuseness.

  • hgsmells||

    Ah right, all consenting adult couples, gay or straight should have equal rights.

    Only if it's a long term contract about sex for property though. A short term one would be immoral prostitution! And only if it's a couple, two people signing a contract is fine, but three or more would lead to the end of civilization!

    And obviously people with disabilities don't deserve these rights. If someone with avoidant personality disorder or post traumatic stress disorder wanted these rights, well they shouldn't have angered God and brought a curse upon themselves!

    Same goes for elderly or sick people unable to consummate marriages, because it'd be super gross if they tried!

    And have you heard of those immigrant women who flee from countries after being sexually victimized? Some of them can't even safely have sex for physical reasons, let alone the psychological trauma. Clearly the right thing for the state to do is to make it more difficult for them to stay in the country compared to other immigrants. Forcibly deporting people who don't have sex, that's what America's all about! It's like the 1st amendment says "Put out or get out!"

  • Zeb||

    What?

  • ||

    I believe what he means is: Hooray! Now any pair of homosexual people can enter into a long-term contract where they exchange sexual monogamy for property rights just like any pair of heterosexual people can. People who want access to contract rights for any other type of relationship can still go fuck themselves. Equality at last!

  • ||

    Yours was better. I think that's what he said with the first two paragraphs, but the rest of it was just gibberish to me.

  • Hyperion||

    And your mom makes $86 an hour as an internet whore, right?

    Come on server sqirrels, time to crunch some spammer nuts.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If Tony were REALLY good at this, he'd find some way to solve global warming with gay marriage.

  • Hyperion||

    That reply was actually not intended for Tony, but for the privacy service spammer. Strange, maybe the squirrels ate him or I somehow cross posted that...

    Not sure that Tony can run with your idea, but if the dude with the rainbow halo sees it, he might just try to use it.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    It's brilliant, really, but it would take some serious verbal slight-of-hand to merge global warming and gay marriage into one unified theory.

  • SugarFree||

    Weddings can be fairly lavish. Anything that increases consumption and travel contributes to global warming. Letting gays get married would be worse for the environment.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    SF for the win.

  • SugarFree||

    I always see the dismal side of things. Of course, if gay marriage somehow is supposed to destroy straight marriage, then it might numerically work out to less weddings over all, which is good for the environment.

    The environment is like commerce, you can pretty much jam it into any scenario if you bullshit hard enough.

  • Thomas O.||

    For some chuckles, you should seek out the 1970s-era Italian comedy "The Sex Machine". It actually mingles sexuality with environmentalism. Not really a classic - not even that memorable - but reading that reply brought that film to mind.

  • ChrisO||

    This was an interesting article. Get the state out of the marriage business.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    But... but... it can't BE marriage, unless some bureaucrat extorts a couple of grown adults in exchange for a permission slip. Without that document, couples can't just do the sensible thing and get a civil ceremony minus the permission slip.

  • nicole||

    Without that document, couples can't just do the sensible thing and get a civil ceremony minus the permission slip.

    FIFY, maybe I am misreading you or have a misaligned sarc detector, but how could you get a civil ceremony without the permission slip (i.e., marriage license)? I mean, in many places at least, that license is is "civil ceremony." You could get a religious ceremony that wasn't related to the extortion-permission slip issue, but what else is there civilly?

  • John||

    How does the state get out of the marriage business? All family law is is a set of contract law applying to personal relationships. As long as people go to court to settle their differences, the state will be in the marriage business, period because the state will be deciding which contracts are enforceable and how they are made enforceable. All of the policy choices that are required now would still be there under a contract based system.

    The 'get the government out of the marriage business' is one of the more puzzling things people say on here.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Non-married couples have to go through legal bullshit proceedings, too. Maybe that's the underlying problem, not "gay marriage".

  • John||

    The only have to go through proceedings when they don't agree on something.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The overarching point is, though, that marriage should not be a prerequisite for obtaining the benefits of having the government-issued permission slip in the first place.

  • John||

    Why not? If you don't have that, then employers and anyone else has no way of recognizing and providing benefits to families rather than individuals. I can't give you and your family medical insurance as an employer if I have no way of knowing who your family is.

    Effectively what you guys want to do is ban marriage. If you can't have some way for other people and organizations like your employer to recognize your marriage, than you really can't be married in any public sense.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Employers shouldn't be providing benefits, but that's another argument.

    As for "Banning" marriage, you're off-base, at least in my case: I'm about banning the *need* to get a permission slip granting the couple the "right" to call themselves married... not marriage _ceremonies_ themselves.

  • ||

    I think it's a pretty weak argument to say that the government must be involved in order for a separate industry to function. If said industry wants to function, it should adapt, not require government intervention.

    I mean, based on this logic, we might as well allow government to define what "friendship" is, define "friendship law", watch the ripples effect everything else in society, and then conclude, "Hey: we can't get gov't out of friendship! What about law? What about benefits? The whole system would breakdown! Friendship would be meaningless!" etc.

    This the whole problem with getting the gov't involved in an idea: it takes over to the point that people consider the idea itself meaningless without gov't.

  • John||

    Brian,

    You can't run a business if you can't enforce your contracts. And you can't enforce your contracts without a court system.

    And we don't have "friendship" law because generally the ending of friendships doesn't involve property or money. But when it does, we have contract law to settle it.

    If ending marriages was just a question walking away, we wouldn't need marriage law. It is not a weak argument at all. You guys just don't understand how the legal system works.

  • ||

    Oh, I understand how the legal system works. I'm not advocating the abandonment of contracts.

    However, you don't need a court system to enforce contracts. You just don't understand how a stateless society works.

    However, if contract law can handle friendships, why can't it handle marriage? Why do we need this whole separate relationship class defined and ensconced by government, and government treating people unequally based on whether or they they are involved? It's discriminatory, even when you let everyone apply.

  • ||

    So because there is currently an entire arbitrary legal system set up around the concept of a special contract that only 2 people can enter into that automatically entitles them to government-mandated benefits from their employer, government-mandated custody defaults, and government-mandated tax benefits, we are henceforth bound to perpetuate this arbitrary system, complete with its labyrinthine system of coercive mandates, or else invalidate all contract law entirely?

    You do realize, of course, that you could make the exact same case for never changing the tax code, never decriminalizing drugs, could have made the same case for never ending slavery, etc. Just because some arbitrary legal structure exists doesn't mean it has to.

  • Zeb||

    I don't see why your employer should have to know if you are married or not. If they give some people benefits for someone else, then it seems to me that the decent thing to do would be to give everyone the option of adding another person (spouse or not) to their insurance plan. The problem is laws only giving tax exemptions for insurance for spouses and families (and laws treating health benefits differently from other income).

  • ||

    The idea that employers should be the ones to provide benefits to classes of people is part of your problem. People should be free to purchase whatever insurance they feel is necessary. Do you really not believe that in a truly free insurance market some insurance companies would offer insurance plans that cover homosexual couples? It would be a goldmine business. But since the government legislates insurance AND marriage there's no way for such a business to exist.

  • Iamtheeviltwin||

    Or provide insurance policies that allow someone to cover other relations such as friends or relatives?

    Insurance companies go where the money is and if they saw a market for allowing people to insure non-family members they would move into the market (if allowed to by Government regulations).

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The state could stop issuing marriage licenses. Enter into a contractual agreement. The damned marriage license is an agreement not between two people but between those people and the state (for special privileges).

    Why should the government care if the contracted relationship is a spousal relationship or not? Why is there special consideration given to an agreement entered into because of some declaration of love? Marriage licenses only seem to make objective sense because that's what we've all been programmed from birth to expect.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    What Fist said.

  • John||

    It takes like five minutes to get a marriage license. And we have them because contracts as a rule must involve consideration to be enforceable. Most marriages are not a cash transaction. All a marriage license does is vitiate the need for consideration.

    And even if you got rid of marriage licenses so what? Is signing a contact any easier? And again, the state would still have to choose what contracts are enforcible and we would be right back to having the same debates we are having now.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    LegalZoom.com could clean up there...

    Seriously, just print off a marriage contract, and have it notarized at the local bank branch. No marriage needed.

  • John||

    And that is different than getting a license how? It takes five minutes to get a license.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Printing the form would be free, versus having to pay for a government-issued marriage-permission slip.

  • ||

    A) It doesn't involve the government sanctioning your relationship.

    B) It doesn't entitle you to any special government privileges.

    C) It doesn't discriminate against anyone - any person or number of persons can sign a contract, but there are stringent stipulations on who can get "married", which you may have noticed what with all the controversy regarding changing some of those stipulations.

    D) The government doesn't get to collect a fee or have to spend money on an entire branch of your local department of licensing.

    E) There is no waiting period or need for any type of ceremony presided over by a state-designated entity (unless you count a notary recording your documents).

    F) No important decisions are made for you automatically - you can define your contract as you see fit and as is appropriate to your relationship.

    G) Due to A through F above, there is actual legal equality for everyone, no one is allowed special rent-seeking privileges based on their romantic proclivities, your measure of individual liberty and human dignity increases, you are not beholden to the government to fulfill any part of your relationship, the tax code is freed of hundreds of pages of complicating rules, employers are freed from coercive government mandates based on their employees' relationship statuses, and the government loses one of its many strangeholds on individuals.

    But other than that...

  • GW||

    How would sign a marriage contract? not any guy I know....

  • ||

    Exactly. Heterosexual men have just as much reason today to be opposed to marriage as feminist women of the '60s. The circle has turned my friends. Marriage is no longer an effective means for us to subjugate women; it's now an effective tool for the women to control us.

    Full disclosure - I'm a divorce attorney so feel free to disregard my advice and keep on giving me business.

  • ||

    Most marriages are not a cash transaction.

    The alimony check I have to write my ex every month for the rest of her wretched life says you're wrong.

  • np||

    You know that's dishonest and misrepresenting the issue. If it were simply contracts, then by definition the state would be out of marriage since it would not be deciding who get legally enter into what type of contract with another person. The only time states enter into the picture is when there are disputes between the parties of the contract.

    As it stands now, for example, bigamy/polygamy is a felony offense, you don't have any rights to make any medical decisions for your partner if you are not legally recognized, etc.

  • John||

    then by definition the state would be out of marriage since it would not be deciding who get legally enter into what type of contract with another person.

    That is utter nonsense. People sign contracts because they are enforceable in court. The state decides what contracts are enforceable. For example, you can't sign a contract when you are a minor. You can't sign a contract for illegal services and so forth.

    Family law already is effectively contract law. Calling it contract law wouldn't change anything. We would be right back to having the same debates we are having right now. Should the state enforce polygamous marriage contracts. Are contracts between two people of the same sex valid and so fourth.

  • tarran||

    Family law already is effectively contract law. Calling it contract law wouldn't change anything.

    Yes, but in plain vanilla contract law, the focus is on adjudicating disputes based on the parties' expectations and the harms caused by non-performance etc. The assumption is that whatever the parties wanted to do was OK.

    Yes, as you pointed out, the state nullifies contracts that it considers against the public interest all the time, but the judge has to actually articulate a rationale that holds up to some degree of scrutiny.

    In family law, the bias is that there is a single definition of marriage and the set of obligations it imposes on the parties, and that everybody has to be hammered into the round hole no matter how many corners they got.

    It makes it easier to get married (you sign a little slip of paper and the contractual obligations are adopted), but gives people little control.

    Yes, people can draft a prenup, but it's considered unromantic and ridiculous for people with little or no assets.

    Change the paradigm, and one would see far less fighting about the defintion of a family, and more people paying attention to their marriage contracts before they say "I do".

  • np||

    You can't sign a contract for illegal services and so forth.

    Well that right there is exactly root of the problem. You're using the logic drug warriors use: it's bad because it's illegal. The state can't recognize it because it's illegal. We have to enforce it because it's illegal.

    Who currently makes them illegal and decides contracts you can enter and what you can't? The state.

    If the state were simply arbiter and not decider of the legality contracts i.e. it recognizes ALL contracts voluntary entered, then it would de facto be out of the business of marriage (and just about everything else for that matter)

  • John||

    That is a different argument NP. You are arguing the state should get out of the contract business in general, which is not the same as saying it should be out of the marriage business.

    I see what you are saying. But the only way for a true contract based system to be any different than what we have now would be for the state to say they would enforce any marriage and family contract no matter what. So if the contract says in the event of divorce, the kids go to an orphanage, off the kids go.

    First, that is never going to happen. And second, that is in and of itself a policy choice. So it really doesn't get us out of the problems we are facing now. I the end, the government has to decide what marriage contracts it will enforce and what it won't. and that is called family law.

  • Marshall Gill||

    John, am I mistaken that a marriage "contract" is the ONLY contract in which the government can change the conditions without the consent of the signed after the fact? Enforcement of the same can not honestly be described as "law".

  • John||

    The government can change the terms of a contract after the fact. They do it all of the time. The government can ban the activity the contract is concerned with. It can regulate how it is done in such a way that the contract is rendered impossible or has to be renegotiated.

  • Rasilio||

    No, the problem is marriage is the only contract in which the parties entering into the contract have absolutely no control whatsoever in setting the terms and which the terms have never in the history of mankind ever been actually fully articulated.

    Basically it is like there is this secret document you are not allowed to see, a document for which you are only vaguely aware of what is in it and which the government can amend at any time in any way they wish that you are being asked to sign.

    With every other contract in the history of the legal system the parties bound by the contract mutually decide on some terms and maybe those terms are later impacted by changes in law which either negate or cause a renegotiation of the contract and maybe if there is a dispute some parts of the contract are deemed to be unenforcable but you still get to set the original terms and you still have to actually articulate them in the contract for them to be enforcable.

  • ||

    Or the fact that the government discriminates against people on the basis of whether or not they've entered into said contract. See taxes, medical decisions, children, etc.

  • nicole||

    So if the contract says in the event of divorce, the kids go to an orphanage, off the kids go.

    First, that is never going to happen.

    Actually, John, this brings up a point I am interested in. Do people ever do prenups that say, "if we have any kids and later divorced, we agree that X party will get custody"? I imagine something like that would be similarly unenforced but I'm curious.

  • ChrisO||

    Why does there have to be a marriage/partnership contract in the first place, John?

    Child custody and care issues are already handled by courts outside the bounds of the marriage arrangement, and next-of-kin issues can be legislated without resorting to contract law.

    Other than that, there is absolutely no good reason for the state to be involved, or for there to be a legally binding contract. If you think it's God's will for you to be married, let your church deal with that.

  • John||

    Sure I can Chris. And when I get divorce, how do we split the property and so forth?

    The only way to have what you guys want is to ban marriage and make any marriage contract unenforceable in court and make it illegal to grant any benefits based on marriage. Then, the government would truly be out of the marriage business.

    And in the end, that is what the "get the government out of the marriage business" people want. And that doesn't strike me as being very libertarian. But many libertarians are anything but when it comes to culture war issues.

  • ||

    In my opinion, it's more libertarian to make all marriages, explicit legal contracts between two people on whatever terms they decide, to the extent that they want them legal, rather than having government choose a one-size-fits-all definition of marriage, and then treat people unequally based on whether or not they are married.

    I don't see how you can favor a system like that and consider it more "libertarian", unless you think the liberty to be handled by government is something you wish to protect.

  • ChrisO||

    What is this "divorce" you speak of? In a world without legal marriages, there is no such thing. If you buy a house together with someone, you own a percentage of it--which typically has to be spelled out in advance. There's nothing to fight about.

  • ||

    Bingo.

    OR

    You lay out ownership/property issues in a private contract.

  • ||

    It's un-libertarian to stop coercing employers into granting benefits based on your relationship status before the state, stop granting certain people special privileges based on their relationship status before the state, and deciding property issues through traditional legal avenues, such as contracts and ownership/property rights? That's a novel concept.

  • ||

    So repeal bigamy/polygamy laws. If you want your partner to make medical decisions for you then sign a power of attorney. My office charges like $150 for a medical POA. If you want someone to be able to decide whether you live or die or not I think that's a reasonable price.

    What would be more interesting is checking to see how many heterosexual couples would sign POAs and other contracts if legal marriage were abolished. I would bet the percentage would be very small. Marriage is popular because it's easy, but the idea that this abstract set of rules (which can differ quite greatly from state to state) are the way every human sexual relationship should be is ludicrous. For example, you might agree that your spouse should get half the value of your jointly owned house - great, so put it on paper. But she your spouse be entitled to 1/3 of your income or 1/2 your pension if you split up? Who would sign such a document? Yet that is what you agree to when the state sanctions your union.

  • tarran||

    One issue is that the state keeps redefining contractual obligations post facto.

    For example, the state of MA recently changed alimony requirements. If my ex's lawyer hadn't effed up and we'd had our trial last fall, I'd be on the hook for more money than I would be required to pay had we gone to trial next week as we were scheduled to do.

  • John||

    That is just the state being the state. They do that to ordinary contracts too.

  • T||

    Ask GM bond holders about the state redefining contractual obligations post facto. I bet they've got something to say on the subject.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Damn, that will teach me to scroll down!

  • Killazontherun||

    Why not replace the government ran civil courts involving family matters with arbitrators? Works very well in business.

    William C. Wooldrdige, Uncle Sam, the Monopoly Man

    Arbitration has grown to proportions that make the courts a secondary recourse in many areas and completely superfluous in others. The ancient fear of the courts that arbitration would "oust" them of their jurisdiction has been fulfilled with a vengeance the common-law judges probably never anticipated. Insurance companies adjust over fifty thousand claims a year among themselves through arbitration, and the American Arbitration Association (AAA), with headquarters in New York and twenty-five regional offices across the country, last year conducted over twenty-two thousand arbitrations. Its twenty-three thousand associates available to serve as arbitrators may outnumber the total number of judicial personnel … in the United States…. Add to this the unknown number of individuals who arbitrate disputes within particular industries or in particular localities, without formal AAA affiliation, and the quantitatively secondary role of official courts begins to be apparent.

  • John||

    Sure. That probably would be a good idea. But that is just making family law better not getting the government out of the marriage business. I would love to see family law become less draconian, less sexist against men, and more flexible.

  • ||

    Arbitration is great when the parties are on equal ground - business to business or professional to professional. Not so good when it's individual to individual and they are of very different circumstances.

  • ChrisO||

    John, most family law relates to the custodianship and care of children, which has fuck-all to do with contractual rights.

    Apart from that, the issue of next-of-kin is the only one that requires some kind of state action, as I see it.

  • John||

    Yeah Chris because no one ever fought over property rights at the end of a marriage.

  • ChrisO||

    If the ownership of the property has to be spelled out when it's acquired, then there isn't anything to fight about. It's the marriage contract part that makes it more difficult, since ownership percentages are often legally ambiguous in such a situation.

  • Iamtheeviltwin||

    And no two roommates have ever had to go to civil courts to resolve property issues before either. Last I checked I didn't have to get a "roomie license" when I decided to share a house with someone.

    Because they are too deeply involved now is not a defense of bad law. By that token none of the horrid overreaching of the State should be opposed. We should just make sure that the State reaches further and extends its' hand deeper into more lives.

  • Lisa||

    "The 'get the government out of the marriage business' is one of the more puzzling things people say on here."

    Agreed. It's seems based on libertarian principles if you don't think about it for more than 2 seconds.

  • Lisa||

    I say that because I once believed it. Then I thought about it a little more.

  • yonemoto||

    the faulty premise is that the government should be in the contract business. Why should you be able to enjoin me to do something just because I sign a paper saying I will. Seems to violate the NAP, if you ask me.

  • np||

    Getting the state out of marriage is a tough sell to everyone other than libertarians. Much, much harder than adjusting the arbitrary rules for marriage.

    This is also probably one of the yet-to-be-seen differences between Ron and Rand.

  • Killazontherun||

    If the courts refuse to recognize contracts between gays, then gays will turn to other means to settle their internal disputes that further delegitimizes the courts instead of the other way around.

  • ChrisO||

    I understand that, np. Frankly, 90% of what I believe as a libertarian is a tough sell to non-libertarians. People have become used to state interference in their lives.

  • hk||

    No Libertarian should be arguing for these laws anyway, they don't make sense.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The hassle now is the expansion of an entitled group and the politicized cultural war over societal acceptance of various lifestyles. I suppose unlibertarian-minded people wouldn't care about the former and possibly even relish the latter.

  • Thomas O.||

    And you KNOW that the religious right will be harping about how this would be another example of "the liberals kicking God out of our society!" As long as the voting sheeple drink that Kool-Aid, we're not gonna get anywhere in this regard.

  • Zeb||

    The state is not going to get out of the marriage business (and I am not sure they should, though if changing it to "civil unions" for all civil marriage would be a good idea if that would shut people up about it). So the next best thing is for the state to recognize marriage, not to regulate it. Gay people get married now. So the state should recognize those marriages. The law needs to catch up to reality: gay marriage is something that happens.

    If you make the argument that gay marriage should not be recognized because the state should not be involved in marriage, then you should also agitate to have miscegenation laws reinstated because that would make the state less involved in marriage as well.

  • yonemoto||

    If you make the argument that gay marriage should not be recognized because the state should not be involved in marriage, then you should also agitate to have miscegenation laws reinstated because that would make the state less involved in marriage as well.

    That is the dumbest thing i have read all week, and it's been a dumb week.

  • Hyperion||

    Because no one besides gay activists and dishonest political hacks seeking reelection, gives a fucking rats arse? Yeah, that about sums it up.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If couples weren't required to have legal paperwork to call themselves "married", Obama wouldn't be able to dig through divorce records in order to win elections.

  • Aresen||

    "Marriage" as religiously sanctioned morality is not the business of the state.

    Nor is it the business of the state what people enter into as a private contractual agreement. However, there are certain obligations, such as offspring, that may endure long after the desire to continue the marriage contract - or even a brief fling - has ended.

    Ideally, marriage contracts should cover:
    1) The financial and social obligations of each party during the contract.
    2) What obligations will arise upon termination of the contract by either party.
    3) What obligations each party has to care for offspring.

  • John||

    Yes Arsen, it is called family law. All of those things already exist. How is your system any different than what we have? Sure you want gay marriage. But gay marriage can exist now. And it doesn't have to exist under your system. Courts or legislatures could decide some marriage contracts were not enforceable.

  • Aresen||

    "Family Law" deals with after the fact disputes, like when one spouse suddenly decides that they are entitled to keep their post-marriage standard of living while the other can go live on dog food, regardless of their respective abilities to earn income or what they had/brought into the marriage. Why should some dumb trucker be able to walk away with a couple of million just because Elizabeth Taylor had the hots for him for a few months?

  • John||

    That is all contract law does. You only sign a marriage contract in case the thing falls apart and you need to settle the dispute. If you never break up, the contract is never invoked.

    And why should some dumb trucker get millions? I don't know because someone wrote the law that way. If you want to change the law, fine. But stop pretending that is getting the government out of the marriage business.

  • ChrisO||

    There shouldn't be a contract involved, marriage or otherwise.

  • John||

    There we go Chris. You are now arguing that we should ban state sanctioned marriage. If I can't even sign a contract that is enforceable, then I effectively can't get married.

    Again, banning forms of contracts doesn't sound very libertarian to me.

  • ChrisO||

    I didn't say we should ban such a contract, John. If there's adequate consideration, you should be able to contract to do just about anything. I suppose it's questionable whether consideration for a marriage contract exists, since courts have been loathe to recognize it in the past.

    But I also don't think we should make certain societal rights dependent on entering into such a contract.

  • np||

    repeating what I mentioned:

    If it were simply contracts, then by definition the state would be out of marriage since it would not be deciding who get legally enter into what type of contract with another person. The only time states enter into the picture is when there are disputes between the parties of the contract.

    As it stands now, for example, bigamy/polygamy is a felony offense, you don't have any rights to make any medical decisions for your partner if you are not legally recognized, in addition to tax benefits, etc.

  • John||

    No NP. See above. you are wrong. The state, by enforcing contracts, necessarily decides what contracts and under what conditions they are enforceable. So we are right back where we started having the same debates.

  • ||

    John, I think you're the wrong one.

    You keep seeing marriage as "just another contract", but it's not, because government treats people differently and unequally based on whether or not they are married.

    That has nothing to do with the conditions of enforceable contracts.

    Anyway, even if you think it falls under "states enforcing contracts", that's hardly a defense. Slavery can be considered "states deciding what contracts and under what conditions they are enforcable." That's hardly a justification for anything.

  • hk||

    It is indeed a government contract, stop complaining now.

    Libertarians don't care what super-religious people say. If you want to enter into a marriage fine, if not then don't.

  • hk||

    Sorry Brian I wasn't aiming that post for you.

  • Rasilio||

    Actually no NONE of those things exist today.

    There is a vague morass of general assumptions that get tacked on after the fact, a few patchwork state laws that imperfectly fill a couple of the gaps, and the whims of the judge.

    The fact is you cannot write a marriage contract today, you can get married.

    The difference is people would be free to write anything they wanted into their marriage contracts, and with that freedom would need to actually think through what it was they wanted to agree to.

    And yes, the courts would still have to decide in the event of dispute what sorts of contractual agreements would be enforcable and which would not but treating it like actual contract law would mean great deference would go to what is actually written in the contract in place of some half formed societal assumption that may or may not be shared by any of the parties to the marriage, the court, or anyone else.

  • hk||

    Rasilio and Harvey have good ideas. I would rather dictate the terms of my marriage contract.

    Not have the state force their views on me, and it is my body not there's so it matters what I think.

  • ||

    But family law is the same for everyone. In a better society the individuals to the marriage contract could negotiate whatever they wanted the terms of the marriage to be and it could be different for every person. Sure, you can some of that now with prenuptial agreements, but depending on jurisdiction a lot of those things can be overriden. For example, in PA you CANNOT enforce a prenup for child support. So even if the two of you agree on a number beforehand, if you later disagree the court can change it. There's a lot like that and every state is different.

  • Rasilio||

    Not sure about PA but my understanding is in most states, even if you continue to agree to that number the courts can and sometimes do change it.

    That said it is difficult to do a prenup for child support because the obligation is to the child, not to the spouse, and as such the best interests of the child can trump your contractual arraingements.

    However in a world where legal marriage is eliminated and replaced by actual individual contracts the judge will not be bound by a legislated formula and will need to articulate a legal rational as to why your child support arraingement (or really any other portion of the contract) is null and void, else you could appeal his ruling

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They're prisons! Man-made prisons. You're doing time! You get up in the morning, she's there. You go to sleep at night, she's there. It's like you gotta ask permission to use the bathroom. [pleading] "Is it all right if I use the bathroom now?"

  • Hyperion||

    Ok, Kramer, you are right. But, it is not the spouse that is the problem, but the nanny state system. That is why marriage is a fucking prison, potentially.

    My advice to any young person = don't get married, don't have kids. Right there you have avoided the 2 most potentially self destructive choices in this world.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    This argument in this article is like arguing that rape is horrible and thus justifies banning consensual sex.

  • hgsmells||

    If you love Big Brother so much, why don't you marry him?

  • T||

    He wouldn't return Stormy's texts after the date?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Exactly the opposite. Big Brother is one of those jealous clingy types.

  • Question of Auban||

    Stormy,what the article seems to oppose is "The idea that the state should promote, sanction, and regulate monogamous relationships".

    Marriage does not need the government at all. Free people can sign their own private contracts if they wish. This could happen in a stateless society as well.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    You're falling into a reverse-naturalism fallacy here. Whether or not the state should promote, sanction, and regulate relationships, the fact is that it does. And as long as it does, people have a right to expect equal access to those benefits.

  • Question of Auban||

    Sure, I would agree - if you would also agree that so long as there are military personell performing waterboarding at GITMO that this position should also be open to out-of-the-closset gay people.

    Not that there should be military personell who waterboard at GITMO of course.

  • Zeb||

    That waterboarding position is open to openly gay people now, isn't it? And it certainly should be. There is nothing about being gay that precludes you being a sadistic bastard willing to do whatever you are told to.

  • Question of Auban||

    Zeb,

    I have nothing against gay people - that was not my point (see my argument with Eduard below).

    My point was simply that if I think the government should not be in the business of doing something does it really matter who the government allows to do it? Not really. At times I waver between support for and indifference to gay marriage. I certainly won't oppose it however. I just think the government should get out of our lives entirely.

  • Zeb||

    I didn't mean to imply that you had any problem with gay people.

    But I do think it matters that the government treats people equally, even in cases where they should not be doing what they are doing at all.

  • ||

    ^^THIS^^

  • hk||

    Disagree, the #1 role of government is to do less. A lot less.

    Dissolving marriages is the best solution.

  • ||

    Immorality is okay as long as it is equally applied. Gotcha. So as long as the police kick down everybody's doors and shoot everybody's dogs, it's less wrong that they're kicking down doors and shooting dogs.

    Gay marriage doesn't even accomplish what you suggest. It still excludes everyone not engaged in a monogamous romantic relationship. And it still bestows unequal benefits on those who are allowed the privilege. So in this, expanding an illegitimate function of government serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Sounds like a rallying cry to me.

  • Thomas O.||

    I don't get this logic. Is gay sex supposed to equal dog shooting? Under this guise, is the government ordering everyone to have gay sex?

    If you're going for the "if we can't legislate morality, that means laws against rape and murder have to go" argument, that holds no water either. Our rights and freedoms are mainly based on protecting life, liberty and property. And when two men are having consensual buttsex with each other, nobody's life or liberty is being violated.

  • ||

    Lol, how does this article call for the banning of anything? Discarding old laws cannot possibly be construed as a ban in any way. You are a total analogy failure.

  • Question of Auban||

    "Back in the days when there was an identifiable counter-cultural movement in the United States."

    The former "counter-culture" is now largely in a position of power. Now if you want to call anything a "counter-culture" it would have to be (or at least include) those who wish to return to former tradions.

  • Zeb||

    Culture is so diverse and fragmented now that I don't think that a "counter culture" is even a sensible thing to talk about anymore.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The key factor is the possibility of children. You can make all the Helen Lovejoy jokes you want, but the state has an interest in promoting the interests of children.

    Are the interests of children best safeguarded if the government sets a norm (subject to exceptions) that a child should be raised by its mother and father, and that the mother and father should be committed to each other? To many people, the answer is a no-brainer. At HR, these people are called "bigots," "haters" and "fundies."

  • Question of Auban||

    Eduard,

    Tell me - if you had to choose: Which would you rather see:

    1. A child bounced around from one foster care agency to another for five years.

    or

    2. That same child being raised by two loving gay men or two loving lesbian women.

    To many people, the answer is a no-brainer. To anti-gay bigots the answer is apparently 1.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Straw man - you don't have to support SSM to prefer 2 gay folks to the foster-care system, if those are the only two choices.

    Just as you don't have to be a bigot to prefer a child to be raised by its married parents rather than by some alternative arrangement, unless the parents are abusive (abuse doesn't mean insisting on enforcing bedtime and homework, of course).

  • Question of Auban||

    This is not a straw man argument - I have actually heard opposition to gay adoption as a reason for opposing same sex marriage.

    So, if it is not the gay adoption issue that you are concerned about, why do you oppose same sex marriage? Do you think you would love your spouse less if two people in your state got legally hitched?

    Preference is an interesting concept. There are degrees of perfection. A dual-sex couple may not be exactly abusive but far from perfect - while a same-sex couple might provide a far better environment. While I do agree that a child should have both a male role model and a female role model there are other ways to accomplish this such as having other close relatives or family friends involved in the child's life. Another possibility is to have a male gay couple and a female gay couple living in the same household with the child - or would that be too "icky" for you?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    At least you say that "I do agree that a child should have both a male role model and a female role model."

    Why did children develop (or evolve) in this way, so as to need male and female role models?

    And if any female and male would do, will you contend that stepparents are as good as the actual parents?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Are you OK with govt-recognized polyamory, or does polyamory threaten you?

    I ask because of the numerous people who deny that the logic of SSM would lead to polygamy. I'm more likely to get that logic recognized on libertarian forums like this.

  • Question of Auban||

    Eduard,

    I would prefer the government not be involved in the marriage business at all.

    I think polyamory would be a very difficult kind of relationship but I do not think it is "inherently wrong". When I was younger (after having read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) I actually thought I might like to be in a polyamourous relationship myself. I now realize just how difficult such a relationship would be for a multiplicity of reasons. But I do not want to tell others how to live their lives - I certainly do not think the government should prohibit such relationships.

    It is because of the uniqueness of human relationships that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    1) One of these days, I would like to see a good argument between those SSM supporters who deny any connection with polyamory, and SSM supporters who say of course they're all private arrangements which the govt should treat equally. I could sit back and watch the sparks fly.

    2) As Tonio indicates below, there isn't a *major* national group which actually presents your position of deregulation of marriage. The SSM movement is *very* interested in dictating to people which private relationships are acceptable - they would fine landlords and employers who hold anti-SSM views, for example (if they act on those views).

  • Tonio||

    Needs moar citations, and less hand-wringing to be taken seriously.

  • Question of Auban||

    "And if any female and male would do, will you contend that stepparents are as good as the actual parents?"

    Any? No, I would never say "any". Raising a child is a very important responsibility and would not allow "anyone" to be a part of my child's life. It would be people who are decent, ethical and trustworthy. As far as stepparents - they only occur in cases of divorce. Divorce is tragic but unfortunately common. Even divorce, however, would be preferable to abuse or severe cases of chemical dependency.

    Each household situation is unique and the problem with law is that it usually does not recognize that.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Fair enough, but not all divorces are for chemical dependency or abuse.

  • Question of Auban||

    "Fair enough, but not all divorces are for chemical dependency or abuse."

    I agree - and that is very unfortunate. From a legal standpoint a marriage is a legal contract - when one side or the other breaks a contract there are consequences. If we got government out of the marriage business people could tailor make these contracts and more traditional couples could have very severe penalties for both members if there is a divorce for something other than abuse or chemical dependency.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    That's better than what we have now.

  • Rasilio||

    "And if any female and male would do, will you contend that stepparents are as good as the actual parents?"

    As a stepparent to 2 children and biological parent to 3 others, **ABSOLUTELY**

    There is nothing special about genetic relationship that makes someone a better parent, what matters is emotional involvement.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I spoke of a norm applicable in the general run of cases - I'm sure the kids are better off with you than their particular parents in your particular circumstances.

  • Zeb||

    Norms applicable to the general run of cases should not be the basis of making laws. There are lots and lots of exceptions to the norms. And people are allowed to raise their children as they see fit (within certain limits). There will always be children in non-traditional families. Alloing such families to have the same benefits as straight couples available will only make the lives of the children involved better. The alternative to gay marriage is not every child being raised by a mother and a father. So what is your point? What does any of what you are saying have to do with gay marraiage? If marriage is important because of children, shouldn't infertile people be forbidden to marry too? Or men who are too effeminate to be an effective father figure?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If there is a married opposite-sex couple, a same-sex couple and a single woman seeking to adopt the same child, then "marriage equality" or "deregulation of marriage" would mean that it would be bigoted to give any edge to the opposite-sex couple, even though (as admitted above) having a man *and* woman raise you is the preferable situation.

    And by the nature of things, for SSM to be truly "equal" to opposite-sex marriage, you have to let a parent's lover get guardianship rights over the kids, otherwise "OMG you won't give us the same rights as straights!" So if the lovers break up, a person with no biological connection to the child, and who had no further connection to the child's parent, can get visitation - or in some cases perhaps even custody.

  • ||

    Why shouldn't they get the same consideration as the straight couple?

    Plenty of kids grow up in OSM homes where they aren't getting the supposed benefits of having a female role model and a male role model for whatever reason. I fail to see why gender of the parents should have any bearing on child rearing.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Until we improve cloning technology, one of the "parents" in a same-sex couple isn't a parent at all.

    We've seen the problems when actual, real parents split up and argue over access to their children. Add non-parents (gay and straight) to that and see what happens. We're already experimenting with grandparent visitation and similar foolishness.

  • ||

    Couples that use a sperm donor or an egg donor have one member who isn't a "parent" too, that doesn't mean they shouldn't get or have custodial or visitation rights.

    (Parent is not just a biological term by the way.)

  • Question of Auban||

    "Until we improve cloning technology, one of the "parents" in a same-sex couple isn't a parent at all."

    Not related by biology perhaps. Can I assume you oppose adoption? In that case NEITHER is biologically related.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    What's with the either/or thinking? When have supporters of adoption said that adoption is optimal? Or just as good as having married parents?

    And if you're talking about some kind of "sperm or egg donor," I would think adoption is better. If you're going to raise a kid who is unrelated to at least one of you, why not adopt a child who already exists and needs parents rather than create a new child?

  • Question of Auban||

    "If there is a married opposite-sex couple, a same-sex couple and a single woman seeking to adopt the same child, then "marriage equality" or "deregulation of marriage" would mean that it would be bigoted to give any edge to the opposite-sex couple"

    What does the single woman have to do with this argument? First of all, you have provided no other information about these people. Adoption agencies do detailed background checks on people - as they should. Has one of these people been convicted of child porn? If so, no kid for you. Has one of them been convicted of spousal abuse? Sorry, no kid for you.

    "even though (as admitted above) having a man *and* woman raise you is the preferable situation."

    You twitwisted my words. My exact words were these: While I do agree that a child should have both a male role model and a female role model there are other ways to accomplish this such as having other close relatives or family friends involved in the child's life. Another possibility is to have a male gay couple and a female gay couple living in the same household with the child - or would that be too "icky" for you?

    "And by the nature of things, for SSM to be truly "equal" to opposite-sex marriage, you have to let a parent's lover get guardianship rights over the kids,"

    Doesn't that happen now with dual-sex couples? I have heard of things like that being wrangled over in courts now with dual-sex couples.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm sure that happens with dual-sex couples, but that would not make it right.

    Sorry for the poor paraphrase, but to get the equivalent of a mother and father, you are willing to go to great lengths - have the kid raised by two gay couples. The risk of family break-up is increased that way. There are four partners to worry about when it comes to divorce.

  • ||

    Adoption preferences wouldn't be an issue if the state didn't dictate the terms. Just sayin'. As it is, the Catholic church takes care of a lot of adoption services, and in the absence of state interference would exercise preference as dictated by their religious imperatives. Any other private adoption agency would be able to use whatever criteria they prefer.

  • ||

    Yeah, that's not a straw man.

    Actually, it's called a false dilemma, or false choice fallacy.

    That's OK, though. Nowadays, people call practically every fallacy a straw man, whether it is or not.

  • Question of Auban||

    Actually, in this case, it is neither. I asked him that question because I have actuall seen and heard the gay adoption issue as a reason for opposing gay marriage.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And it's still not the optimal kind of adoption, but in response to your question about foster care, I said gay adoption might be better. Doesn't make it equivalent to other kinds of adoption.

  • Zeb||

    That may well be true, Eduard, but so what? Allowing gay marriage will not stop any straight couples from getting married and having kids. Nor will it cause more people to raise children with only one parent. What it will do is to allow gay couples who have kids to have access to the same benefits that make it preferable for a straight couple to raise kids in a marriage. SO if you are worried about this "for the children", gay marriage is probably the way to go.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    One problem is if someone demands custody or visitation rights to the child of his or her gay lover - even if the person demanding custody has no biological relationship to the child. This situation only arises, of course, if the parent separates from the lover and the lover insists on obtruding him/herself into the child's life, a scenario which is allowed under "gay marriage."

  • Tonio||

    Happens in hetero marriages, too, Eddie.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If the *mother* and *father* divorce, then generally the *father* gets visitation rights (not enough) with his child. Not exactly the same thing as giving visitation rights to the child's parent's lover (hetero or otherwise).

  • Question of Auban||

    OK, so the difference is the institution of marriage. If you have two fathers or two mothers they are more than just lovers - they are spouses.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Too much either/or.

  • T||

    And it's not under hetero marraige? I can go you one better. A friend of mine has custody of two children that are not biologically related to him at all. They were his ex-wife's children from a prior marraige. He helped raise the kids from, IIRC, age 3 5 to 16 and 14. When the divorce happened, the kids, their biological father, and the courts agreed it would be in everybody's best interest for them to stay with him. This is different from your worries about the gheyz how, exactly? You still have a custodial parent with no biological connection.

    BFD. Biology is overrated.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Not in your case, if the father agreed to the custody arrangement. The father's wishes prevailed.

    If the father was married to the mother, then his and the mother's wishes should be the decisive factor, with the courts stepping in if the two parents disagree.

  • Rasilio||

    Wait, so are you saying that if my 12 year old sons biological father, who was never married to my wife, has spent the last 12 years trying to do everything he can to get out of paying child support and deny he is the father (even after a positive DNA test), and has never so much as been in the same room as the child all of a sudden has a change of heart and my wife dies or is otherwise incapacitated that his wishes should overrule mine, even though I have raised the child as my own since he was 1 year old?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I said "if the father is married to the mother."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If the guy you're speaking of didn't want to get married to the mother of his children, then too bad for him - I see no reason he should have the rights of a married father.

    But that depends on the difference between marriage and nonmarriage, which is one of the reasons the state should recognize marriage.

  • ||

    So if I knock up my girlfriend I shouldn't get the same parental rights I would get if we were husband and wife?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Heck no! Should have put a ring on it.

  • ||

    Why not?

  • Question of Auban||

    "If the guy you're speaking of didn't want to get married to the mother of his children, then too bad for him - I see no reason he should have the rights of a married father."

    Aha! So you admit that mere biology is not everything!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I "admitted" this in my very first comment, when I endorsed "a norm (*subject to exceptions*) [emphasis added] that a child should be raised by its mother and father, *and that the mother and father should be committed to each other* [emphasis added]"

    See - "subject to exceptions;" "committed to each other." The committed part is where marriage comes in.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    In short, "biology is everything" is a genuine straw man.

  • ||

    Third-party custody action. Happens all the time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, even family friends if the "paternal bond" exists.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yes, but these are negative developments in the law.

  • Zeb||

    Eduard, that is a problem that gay marriage helps with. And the situation is not different than in a straight couple in a similar situation. There are straight couples who adopt. There are straight couples where one parent has a child already. Sometimes the "lover" might adopt the child, sometimes not. All that matters is who is legally considered the child's parent. So gay couples are inherently different only in that they can't both be biological parents of one child. But that is also the situation for many straight couples.

    I think you are putting way too much importance on biological parenthood.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I take that last paragraph as a compliment.

  • Question of Auban||

    "I take that last paragraph as a compliment."

    Why would you take that as a compliment? Do you oppose strait married couples adopting? If not, why not?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think you may have missed the part in my first comment about exceptions and the need for parents to be committed to each other.

    It's not either/or.

  • ||

    Fuck biology.

    That is all.

  • Tonio||

    Shorter Eddie: I can demean gay people and their aspirations and institutions all I want, but when someone calls me on my bullshit I play the victim card like a whiny liberal.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Which "institutions?"

  • Tonio||

    The ones that don't overuse shock quotes, and thus are taken seriously.

  • Hyperion||

    I am a little depressed that a gay marriage thread is the most popular of the day so far, far outpacing a drug war thread and even a Ron Paul endorse Gary Johnson thread.

    Sigh... We need another video game thread, I missed the one yesterday. I was really hoping that I could use voodoo on congress critters in Risen II, but so far no opportunity... I need beer and it's not even 2pm.

  • Tonio||

    Why is that, Hyper?

  • Hyperion||

    Because I think the other issues are more important, if you were asking why I am a little depressed that the gay marriage issue is the most popular today. I am not against gay marriage, I just don't care.

  • Zeb||

    I agree (except about the video game thread, why the fuck do people like video games so much?), but Van Haalen is just so full of crap that it's hard to resist.

  • Hyperion||

    because of the thought that the game may allow us to use voodoo on congress critters?

  • Tonio||

    Would take the "get the state out of all marriages" canard* more seriously if there was a national advocacy group pushing this hard, not just conveniently trotting this out when the discussion turns to gay marriages.

    (*) Yes, I went there. /dunphy

  • T||

    I thought that was what the LP was for...

  • ||

    To it's credit, people pull it out mainly to explain why they're not card-carrying members of the "marriage for everyone" advocacy group.

  • Question of Auban||

    It makes sense for us Anarco-Capitalists to make this point because we don't think there should be a state at all.

  • T o n y||

    Eduard, It is impossible for a gay couple to accidentally produce a child. Hence, every child of gay parents is, far as I can tell, more likely than average to have a stable household.

    With regard to both marriage and child-rearing, gay people simply want the opportunity to do a better, more responsible job than straight people have been doing.

  • Andrew||

    Marriage = Good, State-Sanctioned Marriage = Bad

  • joy||

    They should know that, if after ample facilities have been for some time afforded, they have not conformed to this necessity of social life, http://www.riemeninnl.com/riem-ferragamo-c-15.html they will be prosecuted and punished.

  • David McElroy||

    I made the case last week that we need a separation of marriage and state, not simply a change in the rules.

    http://www.davidmcelroy.org/?p=13402

  • شات عراقنا||

    thanks

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