Why is government involved in marriage at all?

With regard to children, our society already makes both parents responsible for that child’s care, regardless of their marital status. Also, marriage doesn’t guarantee the parents will stay together, nor does it guarantee both parents will contribute to the well-being of the child. Parents either want to or they don’t. Marriage does not affect that decision one way or the other. In these days of 50% divorce rate, the encouragement factor has little meaning. Commitment to children can remain even if the marriage ends, and lack of commitment can be present even if the couple remains married for their entire lives. It all depends on the individual family. Just my observation.

That was a pretty long post. Please forgive me for losing the forest in all those trees, but I’ts not clear to me what your point was. Are you suggesting that marriage is a government license to have children? If so, they’re doing a pretty lousy job finding and punishing people who dare to have children without marriage. Or maybe you were saying something else?

I’m not sure I understand. A civil union should accomplish everything you and Polycarp want. The only difference would be what you choose to call it, as opposed to what it is. What you have is a union, as defined by DOMA.

Do employers get to weigh in on how many spouses they’re willing to help support? Suppose I’m in a group marriage with 3 husbands, 7 wives, and 22 children, all of them legally within my civil union. How many of them does my employer have to provide medical benefits for?

They’d have to provide for the 22 children, for sure. Married, poly’d, or not.

Good point. But consider this: man and woman cohabitating and raising their joint children. Government not involved in any way with their lives (well, yeah, taxes, public services, etc. But not in the operation of their home as a family household. One or both earn money which is used to pay for the necessities of the family.

Contrast this with: Woman takes child’s putative father to court. Court case establishes paternity. Court orders father to pay support for children. Father does so, usually routing it through a social services agency to ensure children are provided for in case father does not. Or father does not, lawsuit results to collect support.

There’s a net savings to the community as represented by its government in having marriages work.

As far as I’m concerned, a couple who choose to commit to each other to live together in a romantic/sexual relationship are in fact married, by their own standards. Whether state or church recognize that marriage is their problem, not the couple’s.

What everybody’s been doing a song and dance about “make a civil union” available to everybody regarding, is an institution that precedes civilization, and for which there is a good term in English. That term is “marriage.”

That the Full Gospel Free Will Baptist Congregations of America and Used Car Brokerage, U.S.A., Inc., thinks that marriage should be what they consider it to be, has no bearing on the social institution. Two atheists saying, “Let’s live together and have sex with each other, for the foreseeable future,” are in fact contracting marriage. No license or sacerdotal blessing changes that.

So you would be just fine with a 40-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl setting up housekeeping together, with or without her parents’ consent, so long as they don’t touch each other’s peepees?

Yeah, but you’re reasoning from the converse here. I did not say “Fertility does not require marriage” but the converse of it. If two people choose to commit to live together as spouses because they want to, for whatever reasons happen to float their mutual boat, there is no need that they need to be able to reproduce. That was the gist of the point I was trying to make that marriage is not tied to biological parentage – which you’re seemingly arguing against.

Marriage is the institution which historically provided a means of ensuring safe, effective child-rearing at minimal cost to the community. And it is something which a large number of couples desire to enter into, for reasons defined by the pair-bonding hypothesis.

Hey, let’s abolish marriage, because some people don’t want to marry. And then we can abolish gay sex, because some people don’t like it. And then we can abolish religion, because some people don’t believe in any god. And then we can abolish freedom of speech, and the combatting of ignorance.

Because you don’t happen to like or want something, or because some lackwits think they have the sole right to define something, does not give you any right to make decisions for others who may disagree with you.

Around here, they call that freedom. My great-great-great-grandfather fought for that, with the Green Mountain Boys. I happen to think it’s not something we should give up willingly.

Just taking a stab here, don’t shoot me. How about to all of them in a proportion to the number of other spouses? If in a couple they provide 100%, in a three-some they are responsible for 50%, in a foursome 33% and so on.

This on the assumption that the rest of the spouses will provide the rest. If one of them is uninsured, tough nuggets.

From this portion, it sounds to me like we agree. If they are married regardless of what the gov’t says, then the gov’t ought to stop getting involved. They can do that easily by changing the names of the rules and laws from “marriage” to “civil union”. It sounds like semantics, it seems to me that many people (including you) care deeply about how “marriage” is defined, and do not care much about which unions the gov’t chooses to endorse.

Not exactly. The laws about civil unions will have lots of rules, just like the laws about other sorts of contracts. Including age limitations and such.

I will rearrange some of your points to address some of them together. I hope I am not altering your meaning. I am also doing some clipping to keep the page short.

Agree with you 100%. Marriage is practical and helps keep the costs of governance down. As a practical concern, though, it is open to debate and reconsideration. If someone discovers/proposes a different way to provide the same benefits, would it not be worthy of consideration?

well, no. What they are asking for are the benefits of marriage. Not marriage. And as I said before, if by extending those benefits you continue to lower the cost of governance, then that is a good thing, isn’t it?

Exactly, so if two atheists living together are married, why not extend the same courtesy to two women? They are “by their own standards” married but are deprived of the material benefits of marriage. And won’t the governance costs of regulating that union also be lowered if you codify it?

well, she is not free to make that decision. She has guardians (be them parents, the State, or whatever) who are responsible to safeguard her from this kind of stuff (which I find, of course, highly objectable)

well, no. I am not fighting against it. Quite the contrary, I think that the fact that marriage and fertility are NOT associated is what makes it possible to extend it beyond the traditional heterosexual couple.

I don’t think anyone is asking for that.

Did I somehow, somewhere, give the impression that I opposed gay marriage? Considering that I’ve been arguing, rather vehemently, in favor of legalizing it since 2000 or so, I’m a bit chagrined at being mistaken for an opponent of it. :eek:

I think what happend, Poly, is that by demonstrating sufficient reluctance to separate marriage and civil (union) responsibilities, it gave the impression of being opposed to gay marriage, insomuch that the thread is about the issues with separating marriage & civil unions so that gay people can both have a union and get married; it just needs to be legal for them to get unioned, and they need to find a church that will marry them. The third option, of convincing everybody involved to grant people who are married all the rights under the law regardless of the number and type of working reproductive organs involved, is outside the scope of this discussion.

A civil union is a concept invented specifically to create a second-class citizen status for some marriages. It would not exist in the conceptual space at all if people were willing to accept people’s marriages as marriages, which is what I want.

ok, so is there anyone arguing AGAINST separating civil unions (legal contract for benefits), marriage (the personal decision to join your life to someone of your chosing) and matrimony (the religious ceremony which grants mostly duties depending on the religion)?

No, because that’s the way things currently are, and it works fine. What people are objecting to is this new-fangled notion that it would be a good idea to stop calling civil marriages marriages and start calling them unions instead so that some religious folk can feel that they’re more specialler than everyone else.

Eh? It seems Lilairen (the post above yours) is arguing against calling Same Sex marriages anything other than marriage.

The reason being, calling it “Civil Unions” may have some stigma attached, or might be valued differenty (less), merely because it has a different name.

Yes, that is a good description of what civil unions are currently. My proposal is for ALL marriages to have that status. If two (or however many) people want the government to recognize them as a couple for inheritance etc, it should not be sufficient that their clergyperson performed some ceremony. That ceremony should be irrelevant. There should be an official goverment registration to recognize their union. As a totally indepent act, before or after it, the couple could do a religious ceremony, or they could invent their own ceremony, or they could even simply start referring to themselves as married. My only suggestion is for the goverment to stop using that word, and let everyone, including you decide for yourself whether you’re married and to whom. Why don’t you like that idea?

And you are courteously invited to move to France, where that is precisely the procedure in place. I don’t see any need to throw out a perfectly functional concept and term because some people want to claim it as their private property to define it as they see fit, and you can go form Local #1 of your city’s Civil Union. My wife and I are married. So are the Lesbian couple we know. So are the Bloomsburgs (an atheist former moderator here and his wife). Gorsnak nailed it – reread his post.

By the way, the term “civil marriage” has been around for 99 years to my certain knowledge, to distinguish between one created by a wedding officiated over by a civic official as opposed to a clergyman. But I’ll be happy to call whatever it is you want to contract with someone whatever you want it to be called. That will make it no less a marriage as the dictionary defines the term.

Why should I like the idea? The concept of civil union is, as far as I’m concerned, one that only exists because of bigotry, and I see no reason to enshrine that sort of filth as law. The idea that marriage is a religious thing only exists because of ignorance, some of it wilful, and I see no reason to enshrine that as law either.

The major problem with your suggestion is that it does not recognise that the concept of marriage – the word itself – is important. If the word were not important, than nobody would be making the argument “It’s okay if they have legal protections, so long as they don’t use the word”, and nobody would be waving the idea of ‘civil unions’ around in the first place, some way of indicating a marriage without giving it the respect of actually calling it a marriage.

To some people, the actual terminology really does matter. So long as you suggest that the terminology be discarded, you are dismissing something that I and many others consider to actually have value, and attempting to substitute something that not only does not have value, but which was created specifically to deny that value. This is an extremely hard sell, to say the least. To refer amusedly to other ongoing threads – the accidents may be the same, but the substance differs greatly. Marriage is ancient, resonant, culturally important; civil union is, well, not.

But hey, I live somewhere where civil marriage has been the law at least as long as there have been English speakers. Those liberal atheists the Puritans set it up that way.

I guess I just don’t see the point of renaming all marriages “civil unions”. It seems to be just giving in to the claims of some Christians that they somehow invented and hold a patent on the concept, when as I said before that’s simply not the case. And are we going to go back through all our history books and replace “marriage” or “married” with “civil union” or “contracted a civil union with” in any of the countless references to non-Christians in diverse societies who were monogamously pair-bonded (or polygamously “group-bonded”) without the benefit of a religious marriage ceremony in a Christian church? “In 175 B.C.E. Ptolemy VI Philometor entered into a civil union with his sister, Cleopatra II…Julius Caesar commenced to legally shack up with Cornelia Cinna in 83 B.C.E…”

The English language has had the word “marriage” to describe these assorted relationships–between one man and one woman, one man and several women, (occasionally) one woman and several men, or (nowadays) one man and one other man or one woman and one other woman–for at least 700 years, and I don’t see any reason why we should have to drop it now.