Saturday, August 07, 2010

In Reply: Legal civil unions for consenting adults from the state, and marriage from one's church

In reply to Should Government Get Out Of Marriage Business?

Harsanyi's idea about taking the state completely out of the unions between people is unworkable, but I've long supported a divorce of the religious rite of marriage and the legal right for people to form couples and families. When the definition of marriage is held by one's faith--as it was meant to be, IMHO--the state can better define the legalities involved in property rights, protection of children, privacy, and all the rest that comes with legal couplehood. While I agree that such a change wouldn't end objection to "gay marriage," I think it would clarify where the objections are coming from, calm the fears of those who believe the gays will attack churches with discrimination suits and loss of tax breaks, should they be granted their right to legally "marry," as well as clarify the equal protection arguments of same sex marriage supporters.

To PD Shaw's point, I recently read somewhere (perhaps among the comments at the Harsanyi piece, in fact) the idea of attaching benefits (and responsibilities) to children and to legal guardianship, rather than to marital status. There is no reason that a childless married couple should receive benefits meant to encourage child-rearing, and a committed gay couple actually raising children should not. (Of course I also support lower school taxes for those who don't have children in school, as well. We all benefit from having a new generation of educated Americans following us up, but those with kids attending benefit more, short term.)

So yeah... Legal civil unions for consenting adults who want that, and marriage--including gay marriage, if that be a part of the belief system (Unitarian Universalists like me, for one)--from one's church. State recognition of church rites (and vice versa, I suppose) optional, as long as married couples are recognized/not recognized equally.

Posted Saturday, August 7, 2010 at 10:30

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