Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Real Equality for Family

Unless you were asleep yesterday, or outdoors enjoying life, you likely heard that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 which was voted in by CA's citizens to define marriage as between one man and one woman in their Constitution.  However, the Justices also upheld the nearly 18,000 same-sex marriages which were entered into legally prior to the passage of the ban.  

The second opinion is an easy one for me to digest.  In this country, we do not pass ex post facto laws - meaning we don't create new laws and then apply them retroactively.  So it is clear that the 18,000 legal marriages had to remain legal in order to continue our ex post facto laws.

Their first opinion is not entirely clear for me.  I don't necessarily agree or disagree with it.  I have not read the actual opinions yet, so I am not clear on their basis.  What I have read prior to the outcome, leads me to believe this really had nothing to do with gay marriage.  From what I read, the issue was more about clarity of California's Constitution and how it is amended or revised.  I believe the arguments revolved around the Constitution's semantics on whether Proposition 8 was an amendment or a revision, and depending upon the resolution, how an amendment or revision affected the Constitution.  There seems to be confusion in these two words, and that seemed to be crux of the matter decided upon by their Supreme Court.  I am not a legal scholar, so I am not certain what the outcome should be.

What I am certain about is equality, and the lack of equality with regard to the way in which we are allowed to legally document our relationships in this country.  I am not in favor of "gay marriage".  I am also not in favor of "straight marriage".  By allowing the government to define marriage - however broad or narrow - limits the people in how they venture through the legal system with regard to their relationships.  Even if you allow same-sex marriage that definition still does not encompass all of the relationships citizens make with one another in this country. 

The obvious arrangement it excludes is polygamy.  Whether you and I would ever agree to such an arrangement is not relevant.  These relationships exist and deserve the same equal legal documentation and benefits.  

Another one that is often cited is incest.  I do not personally believe in incest and could never enter into an incestual relationship; however, who am I to tell someone else they should or should not.  Opponents will say that due to biological reasons, those related closely by dna should not be allowed to legally marry because they often produce off-spring with abnormalities.  Yet those same opponents call homosexuality an abnormality, and it is the married heterosexuals who have produced the homosexuals - so what's the big fuss?  

Of course, there are other relationships that people cite in the slippery slope argument against gay marriage that are off-the-wall - "why can't I marry my dog?".  Well in most cities, you actually can legally document your relationship with your pet by buying a pet license - this bonds you to the animal and makes you responsible for the pet and gives you legal rights to the pet.  We may not call that marriage, but the basic premise does exist.  

I am not an advocate of these types of relationships, nor am I in opposition to people arranging these types of relationships - and that is exactly the stance our government should take in such matters.  

Marriage supporters have maintained that the state has a valid interest in the promotion of marriage between one man and one woman.  They believe that it is the best model for rearing children and such families benefit our society above any other relationship.  The gay community believes that this model should be expanded to include two people regardless of gender.  The polyamory community believes this model should be expanded to include more than two people.  I believe the model within the government should be abolished.  Evidence such as the divorce rate makes it clear that regardless of all the benefits & promotion for the government's marriage model, people will still make the relationships that best fit their needs.

While most states include "for life" or "life-long" in their definitions of marriage, the divorce rate is a clear indication that people ignore this part of the definition because they have a need to change their relationship for whatever reason.  Gay people continue to form life-long relationships even though the government may not allow them to legally document those relationships.  Polygamists continue to form families even though the government does not recognize such relationships.  My point is that regardless of what the government sanctions or does not sanction, people have a need to form relationships which are not defined by legal definitions, and will continue to do so regardless of government action; therefore, the government has no interest in the promotion of their very narrow marriage model.   

So what happens if we abolish all marriage laws?  I believe the first thing we would see is an major financial impact on single people.  We give married couples tax benefits that single people are not allowed to access because they chose to remain single.  Now the tax burden would be spread among all the people equally without regard to marital status.  These marriage tax laws have always been discriminatory against the single person, and as I've pointed out, there really is no vested interest in doing so.

Will people end their marriages without marriage laws?  Will people ever commit to one another ever again?  Oh my gosh!?!  No - that is a invalid argument.  For those of you who are married or those who know people who are married, examine why you got married or why the people you know got married.  I doubt you will find any of them who chose to commit to one another in a life-long relationship, to love, honor, and cherish because they were able to purchase a marriage license.  I am certain that they would have still made such a commitment with or without such legal devices and I have a whole community of gay couples out there who are not legally married but have made such commitments in ceremonies to back up my assertion.

We need less government in our lives folks...especially when it comes to our most sacred relationships with one another.  I haven't even spoken about families that form that are not biologically linked - yet another narrow view of the government which denies access to family benefits to those who do not fit the legal family model.  

No matter how far the government expands the definitions of marriage and family, I believe that it will never be able to keep up the pace with how its citizens form relationships with one another.  I do realize we need legal documentation for such things as property rights, custody issues, etc.  But I believe a simple legal contract can be drawn up by anyone with witnesses/notary that spell out said needs that 2 or 20 people of any gender or biological make-up to cover such legal situations.  We just simply take the contract to our local courthouse, file it so that it is public record, and we're done.  We just call it a contract - no special, narrow-minded semantics necessary.

We should be defining our relationships, not the government.


  1. Jazz, I agree with you on everything except the incest/inbreeding, which actually ties in with some of the Polygamous sects out there as well. Recessive genetic diseases and disorders are to be taken very seriously. Look at the problem Britain is having at this moment with their Pakastani population. While their births only account for 3.5% of those in the country, their children account for 35 % of those diagnosed with genetic disorders because they have been marrying within family for several generations and those recessive genes are now rearing their ugly heads. Same is happening in some of the Mormon sects here in the US where polygomy is practiced and first cousins are often arranged to be married to one another and more often than not, their parents were first cousins. I can't recall the town off hand at the moment, but I remember reading several years back of a Mormon town that had apparently bred they own recessive gene that was carried by almost every inhabitant in the town. Children were being born unable to walk, talk, see, or hear due to the effects of this gene.
    So...Considering many of these diseases cause deafness, blindness, seizures, limb deformity, increase in mental illness, increase in fertility problems, increase in infant mortality, etc can see where the government has a hand in some of these matters. If restrictions were lifted and more people began to consent to consanguineous marriages who will pay for the medical care of the problem ladden offspring that will most likely develop? Medicaid most likely, which is of course government controlled and already stretched as far as it can go with out an increase in taxes...or if we should fall to a Social Medical System..once again, treatment will be controlled by the government. On this issue, I'm all for the government stepping in and giving their disapproval towards this type of relationship and practices...But..this is where is gets tricky, all 50 states prohibit Parent/child and Brother/Sister Relationships, however 19 of the 50 states do not outlaw marriage between first cousins, California being one of them! What?!! Kentucky is actually one of the 31 states that prohibits first cousin marriage by the way, talk about a flip! How in the world can California OK a marriage that has a HUGE chance of delivery offspring with medical problems that will be taken care of, most likely at the expense of the state, while denying marriage to two people who are not capable of conceiving offspring together, dirtying up the gene pool like those who are inbreeding?
    I say keep on preaching Jazz! Who the he** knew California could be so conservative?

  2. Sass - points taken :) lol yeah it is odd about Cali. However... :) allowing siblings or cousins (or not allowing) to purchase a marriage license really doesn't solve that issue of biology. This really goes back to my main point that regardless of whether a state allows them to purchase a marriage license or not, people are going to form these relationships that the government and/or society does not approve of. Gay couples do it, polygamists do it, and I'm sure cousins do it...and I'm not sure if there are any laws that would prevent them from doing. Two cousins could sleep together now and get pregnant, with or without a marriage license. And then if the issue is about reproducing kids with abnormalities - will we allow 2 male cousins to get married? 2 female cousins? There is no chance they are going to produce any offspring at all, which is the main issue. Or even a sterile male cousin marrying a female cousin. I'd rather the laws reflect what we actually want, and if the state can prove a compelling interest in preventing the production of offspring between persons which are too closely biologically related, then a law should be made to state that - but I don't think the government should be allowed to deny them to make legal contracts together that spell out rights to one another for whatever reason- romantic or otherwise. I just don't like the current way we legalize

  3. correction: I don't believe the government should EVER legalize a relationship due to romantic interest; there needs to be a compelling legal interest such as property rights, child custody issues, etc.