Beyond the Cusp

March 30, 2013

The Sane Solution to Same Sex Marriage

We have written about this solution that addresses the recognition of same sex couples under the law while also maintaining the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman that should satisfy both sides of the argument. It preserves marriage while granting same sex couples with the legal rights they claim to seek and does so by reducing the intrusion of government into what should be a religious matter decided by each individual house of worship. The answer is to allow houses of worship to issue marriage certificates and hold marriage ceremonies while for those couples who wish the benefits and responsibilities the state applies to couples can receive a civil union contract from the state which will allow their pairing to have all the legal rights which currently are restricted to married couples. The marriage the houses of worship would perform would not allow the couple to claim any of the benefits of those who have a civil union contract unless the married couple also satisfied the state requirements and received a civil union contract. This separates the institution of marriage from any entanglement within the legal workings of the state thus freeing the individual state governments to decide what will be acceptable as a couple in the eyes of the law while the religious institutions decide what defines a married couple. The two are separate from each other and though any couple married by a religious ceremony would very likely also qualify for receiving a civil union contract, not every recipient of a civil union contract would be eligible to be necessarily married by every religious institution. There are also other advantages and options which become available in defining marriage which is currently disallowed due to the state being the issuing body of marriage certificates.

The main advantage is that each house of worship would be enabled to define marriage in whatever manner their congregation decides it should be defined. If the house of worship only wishes to recognize marriages between people of their religion and refuses to allow mixed religion marriages, which would be that house of worship’s right and the state would have no problems as the state has no jurisdiction over any religious service or definition as per the First Amendment. On the other side, if a couple can locate a house of worship willing to marry them, then they can have a marriage license and be considered married. Also, if a couple wishes to be married but does not deem it necessary to have state sanctioning their marriage, they would not be forced to receive a civil union contract but by not receiving the state’s issuance of a civil union contract would negate them of the benefits of being a couple in the eyes of the state and in all state functions. They would not be able to file a joint tax return or necessarily be allowed to visit each other in a state run hospital or have numerous other benefits. They would still be able to be the benefactor in their wills but would face the taxes upon one’s death as if they were not a legally joined couple.

The reason we like this solution is not because it enables same sex unions as much as it removes the government from what should be a purely religious institution, marriage. The further the government can be removed from defining terms in our lives and society, the more free the society will become. It is necessary to have the government define legal contracts as those are enforced in the courts of the state. It is not necessary to have the state define anything that does not require a legal contract. Marriage was originally not a legal contract but was a moral contract issued by the religious culture. The interest of the state in marriage has been as a financial interest, a social interest, a contractual interest, and a left over remainder from when the state and church coexisted almost as one entity through much of human history. By granting the state the issuance of the civil union contract the state continues to have all the jurisdictional constraints which it currently possesses but allows for marriage to be returned to the religious sector of our society. This is something which is desirable as it is fitting to have marriage and civil union contract both exist as the state and religion have been divorced from their previous relationship and thus should have separate interests in the whole idea of marriage. The religious institutions would have their historic interest of defining the basic structure of family and all that entails. The state would have their rightful fee for the contractual legal aspect which has been the main interests of the state as well as defining family for tax and other considerations.

There is one more benefit with this solution. We have heard time and time again that all those wishing to legalize same sex marriages desire is to have the same legal rights as do heterosexual couples. By relegating marriage to religious institutions and removing it from legal and public jurisdiction and in the legal and public forum having the contractual part of marriage relegated to civil union contracts, then all who are accepted by the state, which would likely include same sex couples as the state should not have any legal reason to deny such and moral reasons are not the state’s purview, would have the same identical rights while religious institutions could define marriage in any manner they wish. Religious institutions which allow polygamy or polyandry could allow such and it would then be up to the state on whether such could receive a civil union contract and with what limitations or provisions. Since the state licenses separate from religious institutions such discrepancies should not make for the problems we are currently facing as each would define their own definitions. This is just another application of a kind of separation of powers where the state has its set of considerations, legalizations and limitations while the religious institutions have their definitions and preferences and the two do not necessarily have to match.

Beyond the Cusp

November 27, 2012

Can Marriage be Retrieved Once Voters Change the Legal Definition?

There is one thing that crusaders for causes rarely worry about, future generations and how they might reflect upon changes these crusaders transform. They do not worry about what the lasting effects of any revolutionary redefinition of once stable essential structures that have been basic building-blocks for our society since we first formed clans and tribes. This is likely one of the missing considerations which are finally being broken down as the crusaders for a progressive society have apparently reached the critical tipping point in the campaign to transform the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. After thirty-two states had voted their refusal in past referendum to redefine marriage, this past election may be the initial indication that the change has begun as four states voted to redefine marriage from one man to one woman to the “enlightened” two people with no gender restrictions which were so stringently restrictive. Now that the initial eggs have been broken, we can expect over the next few election cycles for sufficient eggs to break to make a few omelets and before a decade has passed we will witness soufflés being made with so many eggs breaking. As the Dylan refrain goes, the times they are a changin’.

Future generations will have a new definition provided from birth where the normative definition of a marriage will be between two people who desire to enter a contractual relationship to face the future together hopefully in some form of nurturing environment. They will have a second definition provided in some religious publications, especially traditional editions and literal translations. There will be some more progressive, liberal, new-age translations where marriage will match the new legal definition at some time in the future, but in the near time there will be two very different definitions in much of society. This will lead to some degrees of discomfort, confusion and discord within the different factions in our society. This will work itself out with time and within a short period the new legal definition for what constitutes a marriage will become dominant and those who hold opinions counter to the new definition will take a more subdued position in expressing their views publically. There will always be a hardcore group which will take an active approach to their expressing the then dated view of marriage being between a man and a woman and they will then receive treatment similar to the treatment of those who first presented the more universal and less restrictive definition of marriage being between two people regardless of genders. The next question is obviously the one where we want to know where this change will lead.

With time will there be a call for marriage to be redefined even further? If so, what other traditional restrictions will be challenged? The first and most obvious restriction that might be challenged is the age of consent for marriage. There have already been studies which have shown that children are sexually maturing at a younger age. Should this biological change also force a change in our laws to allow marriage to reflect the change in the age of sexual maturity? Then there is the obvious number restriction on marriage. If we no longer restrict marriage to gender, then why restrict the number of people who can be held within a single marriage? This might begin with allowing marriage to include a third individual or we may simply jump all the way to a universal community marriage allowance where as many people as wish can be included in what we would likely today call a commune but in the future allow such entities to declare they are unilaterally married as a whole. I doubt that the term marriage would ever go to the more ridiculous extremes some people have claimed would result from allowing a more universal definition such as allowing people to marry an animal.

The only item that has not been addressed is what will happen should in the future a majority desire to return to the current traditional definition of a marriage. Once the laws have been changed they will be the ones who will be forced to accept the more open definition of marriage. They will join the religious conservatives who will likely still be resisting the new definition and only surrender to the extent that the law requires of them. Will those who wish to return to marriage being defined once again as between a man and a woman face the initial scorn and rejections that those proposing gay marriage initially faced? The reality is they very likely will be placed in a very similar position facing similar treatment. The whole argument will have been turned upside-down and those who claim now to be the tolerant ones pushing the borders of society further will be the ones defending the normative status-quo and being defined as the conservative ones refusing to change with the times. Once again marriage will be a topic of debate with the tables turned and all the definitions switched. I guess the more things change the more the opportunity for a future campaign to restore and unchange. The only question is will we go so far in our current changes that no return can ever be attained no matter how much we try to unchange.

Beyond the Cusp

May 10, 2012

President Obama Loaded the Next Campaign Issue

The first contentious issue of the Presidential campaign mutated from the demand that the religiously aligned workplaces such as hospitals, food kitchens, shelters, educational institutions and others would be required to provide insurance coverage for birth control, abortive drugs such as the so-called morning after pill and other medical coverage despite religious objections. This was guaranteed to be resisted and cause loud objections from those on the religious right and they did not disappoint. After the loud protestations were given ample opportunity to be voiced and be identified with those religious conservatives who it is often claimed wish to take society back centuries negating many actions they find objectionable. Then the plan was executed and the objections against this became the war on women. The success of this ploy has been debated with some believing the left overplayed their hand and may have ended up foisted on their own petard while others rejected the arguments from the religious right as narrow minded and anti-women. Whichever side you find yourself siding with, this little skirmish has run its course and played out to give each side gains and losses that the pundits and pollsters are still measuring.

So, now it is time for a new skirmish to be forced into the campaigns. And right on schedule, President Obama came out today and set up the subject and now we wait for the response against the Presidents latest opinion and the next war will be declared. President Obama talked about his evolving thoughts on Gay marriage, another hot button issue with the religious right. I’m beginning to see a trend here. Apparently our President has attained the highest level of awareness on the subject of same sex marriages. He has finally accommodated himself with the right of those who are committed to another person to be married whether they are a man and a woman or a man and a man or a woman and another woman. How universally accepting of President Obama. He also pointed out that this was a subject that, though he supports not just the right to civil unions but actual marriages, he is not in a position to do anything to allow such. President rightfully wrapped himself in the constitution and stated this was an issue for each State to decide. Imagine that, President Obama enforcing the Tenth Amendment and defending the Constitutional rights of the States. Now we get to wait and see if and who will take the bait. Should there be those who believe that the President has negated a Federal Law, the Protection of Marriage Act, with his statement must have missed when Attorney General Eric Holder announced a couple of years ago that the Justice Department was not going to defend this particular law as he and the President did not approve of it. Well, now we might just get to listen to the two sides each screaming as loud as the other for the next few weeks, again.

I really hope that the entire Presidential campaign is not going to simply be an endless series of each side poking the sensitive spots on the other and then ranting about the fact that the other side reacted. Surely we can have a campaign for the highest office in the land that is just a little bit more mature than a grade school game of gotcha or tag, you’re it and no tag backs. We have an economy that has shown almost no signs of life, Iran is rapidly approaching nuclear weapons capability, the Palestinian-Israeli talks are moribund, job growth is so lethargic that they are close to straight-lining, the streets are likely to become battlegrounds for protesters this summer and fall, and the country is more divided than it has been any time since the end of the sixties. Perhaps I am expecting too much than to have the race for President of the United States to be on a level higher than that of running for High School President. I’m waiting for somebody to offer no homework on weekends. Hey, it worked in High School.

Beyond the Cusp

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