Some Questions About Marriage

MarriageAs anyone who has been around here for a while knows, I come across all kinds of strange lists online that I’ll appropriate and answer, just for the hell of it.  It lets people know what others think and it makes my job a bit easier as I just have to answer questions, not come up with them in the first place.  Sneaky, huh?  This one is about marriage and whether or not gay marriage ought to be accepted from a “statist” perspective.  With the gay marriage debate heating up, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to both “borrow” someone else’s ideas, see what other people have to say on the subject and to respond to their questions.

On with the show.

1. Does marriage between two consenting adults need to be sanctioned by the state?

That’s kind of an odd say to put it, isn’t it?  Does it “need” to be sanctioned by the state?  I don’t know that anyone is putting a gun to the state’s head and making demands, but it seems likely that it will be sanctioned, it always has been and since the state is the legislative arm of society and society wants marriage legally recognized, then it seems only logical that it will continue to be recognized via license by the state.

2. If so, and there is a legitimate state interest in doing so, what are those interests, or interest?

There are plenty of perfectly viable interests.  Married people provide, in theory at least, a stable tax base and are a stabilizing agent for society itself.  They provide a much-needed boost to the economy, having more free money to spend within their communities and they can, although they certainly do not have to, provide a superior environment in which to raise children.

3. Outside of matters like taxation, benefits, power of attorney, visitation rights etc that can be legislated for separately, does the state have any other compelling and necessary interest?

I love how they dismiss a lot of the benefits, then ask what benefits there are.  Yes, all of those can be legislated for separately, but why would  you?  They already exist in the form of marriage.  Who in their right mind would advocate getting rid of marriage, then re-introducing something that looks, for all intents and purposes, exactly like marriage, just called something different?  Here’s the reality, there are an estimated 11,000 different rights, privileges and benefits that you get, provided by the state and federal government, just for putting your name on that marriage license.  While yes, I suppose most of them can be achieved by filing a ton of different legal paperwork, who in their right mind would want to do that, and at what cost?  A marriage license costs  you no more than $100,  depending on where you live, how many thousands upon thousands of dollars would it cost to get all of the paperwork drawn up and filed if you had to do it all separately?  So what is the reason to change something that already demonstrably works?

4. If the answer is no, then the state shouldn’t be in the marriage business at all.

Since the answer is not no, the question is irrelevant, but in reality, the state is in the marriage business because the people who vote in people to represent their views apparently want the state to be in the marriage business.  That trumps everything else.

5. if yes, and the interests are solidified around the concept of procreation then the following needs to be answered.

Yet, the interests are not solidified around the concept of procreation and never have been.  Marriage has always been a secular, even before religion stole it bodily.  Marriage has been about wealth and property and inheritance and standing in the community.  It’s about making sure that your property goes to your heirs after death, that your family is taken care of, etc.  In more modern times, it’s about the legal inter-mingling of two people’s assets and debts.  Procreation barely even enters into it.

6. Does marriage between a man and a women posses any inherent benefit to society over all others, including polygamous marriages, and homosexual marriages?

Nope, none that I can see.

7. If so, what is this benefit, does this benefit carry with it such a compelling state interest that, the exclusion of all other marriage arrangements would be a necessary and proper function of the state to legislate.

See above.

8. Is there an intrinsic value for one type of marriage over any other?

Again, not one that I can see.

9. Is there material proof, or evidence of any such claims?

I think the author was expecting a “yes” answer to the question above.  That’s the problem with so many of these “questionnaires” online, they are typically written with a certain expectation as to the responses, such that the next question proceeds from the assumption that previous questions were answered as predicted.  Then someone like me comes along and doesn’t do so and it just throws things off.

10. Does the right not to participate in the procreative process invalidate this state interest?

Since the state interest isn’t only, or even primarily, in procreation, absolutely not.  The state gets more money out of married people than it does out of single people, therefore the state has a vested financial interest in getting people married.  The next several elements are traditional and, unfortunately, do not apply as much these days, which is why I think our society is getting extremely screwed up.  In the past, married people were much more likely to own homes and provide social stability to their neighborhoods, they would live in one place for many, many years.  Today, that isn’t the case, most people move every couple of years and there’s really no point in generating community cohesiveness.  Today, people hardly know the people who live next  door and there’s no point in making long-term friends because next year, you’ll have a whole group of new neighbors.  The only place  that procreation matters to the state is in the generation of new taxpayers to offset the losses through death, but it takes 18 years for a new taxpayer to be generated, thus making most marriages pointless to the state for the majority of the time if procreation is seen as the sole purpose.

11. Does the ability to manufacture a way to participate in the procreative process validate the marriage arrangement?

Absolutely not.  Many, many people who are married will never have children for a variety of reasons and we do not restrict their ability to be married.  My sister, for example, hurt her back when she was younger and ran the risk, when she was younger, that if she ever got pregnant, she may end up paralyzed for life.  So she never had kids, yet she’s married.  I don’t see anyone arguing that we ought to restrict people like her and her husband from marrying, do you?

12. Does a marriage that produces children of the genetic components of each parent have any value over one that produces children of only one, or perhaps none of the parents?

Clearly not, otherwise we would not allow people past the age of procreation to get married, we would not allow people who were sterile, either naturally or by choice, to get married and we would not allow people who choose not to procreate to get married.  If it mattered that the children were genetically related to the parents, we wouldn’t allow adoptions or foster children.  This is a silly question.

13. Do the people through the state have a right and obligation to choose or favor one form of marriage over any other?

I’d argue exactly the opposite point, that the people, through the state, have an obligation not to favor one form of marriage over any other, they instead have an obligation to provide equal rights and opportunities to all.  Those are the principles upon which this nation was founded and I’d argue that refusing to provide equal and equitable treatment to all under the law is a slap in the face to all the people who fought and died to make this country free.

14. If the state has a fundamental duty, and by a necessary function, the right to regulate marriage types, does this duty, or function carry with it, a responsibility to exclude certain types of marriage, and if so, how does the state decide what types and whom is excluded?

I love how the questions presuppose the answers, don’t you?  I’ll give you three guesses what the stated political position of the individual who asked these questions and the first two don’t count.  The state clearly has no duty to regulate marriage types, except in the sense that all involved need to be legally permitted to enter contracts.  That means that people can’t marry children or  dogs or trees.  Otherwise, things ought to be pretty open.  The only possible exception, for the moment at least, is polygamous marriage.  No, I’m not against it, but all legal case law to date has dealt with two partners.  If the marriage is dissolved, then it’s over and there are legal procedures for determining who gets what.  But what do you do when there are more than two people involved?  How do you deal with inheritance, with divorce, with custody and child support?  These are questions that need to be answered before we allow polygamous marriage, otherwise the courts will be endlessly clogged, even worse than they are now, with nasty divorce proceedings that nobody has a clue what to do with.  Answer the questions, then allow polygamous marriage.

15. If it is that the state does not carry this right and responsibility then gay marriage along with any other type of marriage should be allowed.

Agreed, with the exceptions I listed above.

16. If it does carry this right and responsibility, then gay marriage and polygamous marriage should not be allowed to continue.

Then it’s a good thing that the state does not have that right or responsibility, isn’t it?

So we return to the original question.  The state has no reason not to allow gay marriage, it has no prevailing interest in keeping a small percentage of the population from being married and having the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.  So why do it?

Why indeed…

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