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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Monday, December 01, 2003

posted by Jazz at 12/01/2003 10:39:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

You Can Stop Working on the Gay Marriage Debate

It took a while, lots of reading, and both of my remaining brain cells in full overdrive, but I am ready to announce my plan to resolve this entirely. Please let your various governmental representatives know about this plan a.s.a.p. so it can be implemented at all levels.

Background Information:

First of all, the whole thing should have been a non-issue, but we messed it up. And this isn't recent news. We started messing it up back in Europe many centuries ago, and our US forefathers brought a lot of their baggage along with them when they settled these lands. More trash has been added on here in the years following.

Marriage started out as a strictly "club oriented" institution. It had no legal status or impact on anything whatsoever, and any "club" (i.e. religious body) could perform it for whomever they liked and refuse such services to whomever they liked. If we'd left things just that way, we'd have no problem today.

However, starting way back in the bad old days, we abandoned any concept of "separation of church and state" when it came to marriage. We not only paid homage to marriage as a legally binding institution, but we starting adding all sorts of laws and perks, etc. to cover it. None of them were needed and all are going to wind up doing more harm than good.
Giving tax breaks to people based solely on some state of union blessed by a religious organizations was a stupid idea. But now, the whole concept of marriage has become so deeply embedded in our legal system that we are able to disenfranchise all sorts of people who don't fit into the "normal acceptable" categories, because the "clubs" controlling
the marriage ceremonies don't want them. Sadly, this has the secondary effect of cutting them out of the benefits from the legal system and government that they might otherwise enjoy.

The Solution:

Step one. We need to completely redefine the terms "marriage" and "civil union." Marriages should only be performed by churches. Anybody can qualify to be in some sort of church. As I recall, I'm still an ordained minister in the California Church of the Howling Pines dating back to the seventies. (I sent in five bucks and a matchbook cover.) No matter who you are, what color you are, what religious choice, what sexual orientation, you can find somebody to marry you. Just look around. The government shouldn't be able to tell any church who they can or can't or should or shouldn't marry. Leave it up to the churches to decide who can get married and who can't. And who can be a church, for that matter. If you can't find one you care for to marry you and your partner, start one of your own. While we're at it, let's start taxing the churches too.

Civil unions should only be performed by authorized legal officials. (e.g. judge, justice of the peace, etc.) They should have the effect of legally recording your publicly declared your intention to live with the other person as your partner of choice. There should be absolutely no restrictions on who can enter into a civil union aside from being of the minimum age and mental competency to give legal consent. These will vary on a state to state basis, and that's fine.

Anyone who wishes may apply for and receive a civil union at the same time as they are married, or skip either of them as they choose.

Step Two. Remove any and all reference to marriage from all laws in the country. Remove all benefits of every kind associated with marriage in any way. Inform all other business entities, schools, you name it, that they will not have rules regulating anything referring to marriage. The term will be replaced with "civil union" where appropriate. Then go and
find the least harmful and unbalancing benefits in our system and assign them to civil unions.

For some examples, I see no reason why anybody needs a tax break above and beyond what two people living together get simply because they are married and/or in a civil union. Giving a tax break to people raising kids, based on the number of children, is just fine and anyone raising children, adopted or naturally born, should get it with no regard for marital or civil union status.

Hospitals should be able to restrict access for visitation in some cases to family members, for example. It's a good idea. And if you make them replace the term "husband or wife" with "civil union partner" it works out just fine.

These are only a couple examples of both governmental and civilian institutions where we'll need to root out these rules and either strike them entirely or re-write them. But it will be worth the effort.

There are far too many benefits and complications in the tax codes, and in fact many outdated laws (you can't engage in sex with so-and-so unless you are married, etc.) which are tied into marriage, and really shouldn't be tied into civil unions either. We could cut out huge sections from our legal and tax codes, strip down and simplify the whole system, and end this stupid debate over who can marry who, all in one fell swoop.

There. Debate over. You have your answer. Go forth and prosper.