(New York Times) Laurie Shrage—The End of ‘Marriage’
While marriage reform is moving forward in many countries (for example, to extend access to same-sex couples), many prominent legal and political theorists — such as Cass Sunstein, Richard Thaler, Martha Fineman, Tamara Metz, Lisa Duggan, Andrew March, and Brook Sadler (to name only some of those who have put their views in writing) — are proposing that the institution of marriage be privatized. More specifically, they propose that we eliminate the term “marriage” from our civil laws and policies, and replace it with a more neutral term, such as “civil union” or “domestic partnership.” The state would then recognize and regulate civil unions rather than civil marriage, and people would exchange marriage-like rights and duties by becoming “civilly united.” Some private organizations, such as religious institutions, might still perform and solemnize marriages among their congregants, but these marriages would have no official state recognition.
The primary argument for this change of policy is that the state allegedly has no business regulating marriage, which is a complex cultural and religious practice. However, the state does have an interest in promoting private caregiving within families — the care of children, elderly parents and sick or disabled relatives. According to advocates for marriage privatization, the state can better pursue its interest in promoting nongovernmental forms of caregiving by establishing and regulating civil unions for all who qualify, and steering clear of defining, interfering with or regulating “marriage....”
Unfortunately, this proposal has some serious problems. First, “privatizing” marriage will not cause it to disappear — it will just leave it to be regulated by private institutions, especially religious and ethnic ones. For many centuries, marriage has been the primary mechanism by which people who are not related “by blood” become relatives, and it is unclear that civil unions will acquire this social power. Many families will then be structured and governed primarily by private marriage customs and practices now freed of state regulation.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch
Law & Legal Issues
Marriage & Family
Religion & Culture
* Economics, Politics
Politics in General
Ethics / Moral Theology
Posted December 11, 2012 at 6:30 am
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1. Br. Michael wrote:
I have argued and continue to think that homosexual marriage and civil partnerships do not expand marriage—they end it. Marrieds are treated differently than singles, but why? Once the justification for marriage is removed—men and women are the natural unit that procreats (and at one time we would have said this is a no brainer), what is the principled reason to set a two person unit above singles? Private care giving as a reason? Singles need care too and if you can dispense with men and women having babies, you can get rid of private care giving much more easily. Any number of friends provide private care to their friends without benefit of civil partnerships.
So as marriage ends we will see a total restructuring, if not out right collapse, of Western Civilization and in ways that we can’t even imagine. It makes me think of a 4 year old playing with a nuclear bomb without the slightest comprehension as to what he is doing.
December 11, 8:05 am | [comment link]
2. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
I really have no problem with the government getting out of the marriage business altogether. If people want some sort of legal contract binding them (2 or more for that matter), then sign a contract. If you want a marriage, go to your local house of worship.
December 11, 9:09 am | [comment link]
3. Brian of Maryland wrote:
... and the protection of children within a stable marriage ... hey, it’s all about parents and their rights. We are in Corinth brothers and sisters and there is an upcoming generation that knows nothing about what we assume as a given.
December 11, 9:40 am | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:
2, OK, but marriage and laws regulating marriage are entwined through out society. How is your new society going to be ordered? Is the law going to enforce all these private marriage contracts? Suppose the contract has a clause providing for death of a wife for adultery. Is the state going to enforce that? How about intestacy laws? Property laws dealing with tenancy by the entireties, marital property etc.? Are you willing to give full force and effect to Church Law as in the Middle Ages when there were two parallel legal systems?
December 11, 9:50 am | [comment link]
5. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
That’s my thing…if we truly want to trash our society, let’s go all in. The quicker we collapse, the quicker we can rebuild. Once you get sucked into the “marriage is a civil right” argument, the only way to logically pull that off is to say “anything goes.” If two people of the same gender can get married, then why not three people? Why is two the magic number? At least in polygamous marriage, there are children, and there is some basis for it in biology.
December 11, 10:00 am | [comment link]
6. carl+ wrote:
May I just say again, that the hubris of our age beggars the mind!
December 11, 10:16 am | [comment link]
Pick a topic or issue - any one at all - show me (I am from Missouri, after all) the blessed results which the current cultural “wisdom” of the last fifty has produced for this country. What was the subject of Monty Python skits 20 years ago, has become the source of “learned” discussion, even to the point of now being argued in the Supreme Court!
May God grant each of us the grace to reject the meaningless mantras of those who are being led astray; and the courage to be agents of true wisdom - Psalm 95, especially vv 6ff.
7. jamesw wrote:
The advent of same-sex “marriage” kills real marriage, but greatly expands the power of the state. Two recent articles do a great job in explaining this. First, see this article which describes how same-sex “marriage” is completely dependent on increased state power, whereas real marriage exists independently of the state. Second, see this article describing how the enactment of same-sex “marriage” in Canada ushered in several other serious curtailments of liberty and freedom, with not all of these curtailments yet clear (in other words, its only going to get worse!).
I agree with Br. Michael in post #1 - “once the justification for marriage is removed—men and women are the natural unit that procreates, what is the principled reason to set a two person unit above singles?” There isn’t any, and from a conservative viewpoint, the state should not compel singles to subsidize sexual partners who choose to engage in some form of contract. I think, though, that the problems that will inevitably arise (Br. Michael raises some issues in post #4) do not outweigh the benefit that would come from citizens keeping the definition of marriage out from the grasping, redefining hands of government.
December 11, 8:11 pm | [comment link]
8. Scatcatpdx wrote:
I strongly sport privatizing marge. I this was is ongoing error for the last 200 years to have secular government entity promoting and regulating marge. My primary reason is the doctrine of total depravity; In light of Romans 1:16-32 I cannot see any wisdom to intrust the institution of marriage and education to sinful mankind. Second I take after a view espoused by some in the Objectivist movement of Individual liberty with some modifications: one rights are granted by the Creator to only individuals not to groups. Right are immaterial by nature. One has a right to marriage but no right to demand of any material benefit and finally rights do not infringe om the rights of other individuals. As person has a right to marry anybody but no right to demand anybody to to recognize the marriage and provide any benefit. I do not see we can not end same sex marriage excerpt by proclamation of the Gospel bringing them to repentance and forgiveness of sin.
December 12, 3:11 am | [comment link]
Now some say there would be grave societal consequences: I say I am individual not a society at the wost I can buy a farm and load up on SKS and AK-47’s throw I an an M-14 with good scope.
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