Respectful Insolence

Proposition 8: The Musical

The thought of Jack Black as Jesus just cracks me up:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

You know, more and more I’m starting to be of the mind that perhaps marriage should not be defined by the government. After all, to the government, marriage is nothing more than a contract. Consequently, I wonder whether the government should simply issue civil contracts to any couples wanting to be married, be they straight or gay, without distinction of sexual orientation and let people for whom a religious imprimatur on their union matters go to their churches to be officially “married.”

Comments

  1. #1 alyric
    December 8, 2008

    That’s what they do in many European countries. The civil union is it. Whatever else you want to do is up to you. Of course they don’t necessarily allow the gay or straight option but this is a nice degree of separation before tackling that one.

  2. #2 Noodle
    December 8, 2008

    Yes! The government, being interested in offering certain rights or privileges for couples to pledge themselves to a long term commitment to each other, should simply offer a document acknowledging the union so those couples can have access to those rights and privileges and then get out of the way. If the couple then wishes to formalize the union within some other framework, such as a religion, it would be up to that religion to allow that or not.

    You can, of course, argue about whether the government should have such an interest and what form that interest takes.

  3. #3 cm
    December 8, 2008

    Yes, I’ve thought something like that. Adults should be able to enter into contracts in terms of certain shared rights (hospital visitation, inheritance, shared property/money), and that’s it. Even if it is between friends or more than 2 people. Maybe where children are involved there has to be some boundaries, to protect their well-being.

    It gets tough though, both with children and immigration and taxes… But it could be a possible system…in 1,000 years.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    December 8, 2008

    And don’t forget about the meme about the Prop 8 meme.

  5. #5 John S. Wilkins
    December 8, 2008

    Hey! That’s my Modest Proposal.

  6. #6 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    Consequently, I wonder whether the government should simply issue civil contracts to any couples wanting to be married, be they straight or gay, without distinction of sexual orientation and let people for whom a religious imprimatur on their union matters go to their churches to be officially “married.”

    No: strong disagreement on this here. The institution and name of “marriage” has established itself culturally as the union with all the significance — with all the bells, whistles, happy vibrations, and warm fuzzies picked up over the years. Its value is entrenched. Some people choose to view it as their “covenant with God” — but that wasn’t its original meaning, and most people view it as secular. Marriage is not like getting baptized or confirmed. It’s not a religious sacrament.

    So your suggestion takes the right to marry away from people who can already get married. Atheists. The nonreligious. The unaffiliated. Their marriages are no longer real marriages.

    You might as well declare that, from now on, only religious people can be “citizens.” The non-religious will be “voting public.” Don’t worry, it’s the same thing. Just words. We’re “One Nation Under God,” and have to reflect this with the language, is all.

    This issue has been thrashed over numerous times on Dispatches from the Culture Wars. It gets heated.

    I’m married. My husband and I are atheists. We have a real marriage. If there is a law proposed that will strip away my marriage — and replace it with a just-as- good “civil union” — based on the fact that we don’t believe in God, you better believe I’d fight that. So would you — if you had to take a test and they determined you’re not devout enough to call your marriage “marriage” anymore. Like Proposition 8, it takes away what’s in place.

    Let the religious have “holy matrimony.” They can make a big stink about how much better and real it is than marriage.

  7. #7 Michelle
    December 8, 2008

    I agree with ORAC, I have this idea for years. I am Canadian; as you know same-sex marriage has been here for years (and yet, our country didn’t explode or wither away!).

    With many of our institutions (pension plans, etc…), common-law (co-habiting for one year) and marriage are generally equal in terms of benefits paid,etc. I often wonder whether to make marriage a matter of personal preference; you can proclaim a civil union legally for all these benefits, without the civil union, no benefits. If you want, a religious or secular marriage can take place with all the pomp and ceremony. Government will be out of the marriage business; it will simply recognize civil unions. If you choose not to have a civil union, none of the benefits will come your way (nor will the drawbacks, like higher taxes!)

    And as for Sastra’s fear: I am a Buddhist, my husband and I are both atheists. The Buddhist ceremony is not recognized in Canada; we needed to be ‘officially’ married. We chose a wonderful wedding officiant from the Humanist Society. Interestingly, I think it is the same in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist country – you need to married by a wedding ‘registrar’ there, not just the religious aspect is recognized.

  8. #8 Rowan
    December 8, 2008

    when i was “married” my ex and i eloped at the county courthouse. as far as the catholic church was concerned i was not married. it was a civil union recognised by the state. (yeah, yeah. i saw the light and am no longer a christian)

    if a couple who love each other, regardless of the genders of either person, wish to be joined in a union the only legal recognition needs to be by the state and federal government. who cares what a religious organisation deems to be marriage or how they define it?

    last i checked this country was supposed to be secular and to apply equal protection to all its citizens.

    doesn’t matter what you call the union, if it is “marriage”, civil union, chained together for life, or what have you, what matters is how does the law recognise the relationship of the two people.

  9. #9 Orac
    December 8, 2008

    Hey! That’s my Modest Proposal.

    Maybe that’s where I first saw it two years ago, forgot about it, and then had it pop up again in my head unbidden after the whole Proposition 8 thing bubbled up…

  10. #10 Paws
    December 8, 2008

    I’ve never thought the government should have any right to intrude into whatever relational arrangements consenting adults decide to make for themselves. Personally, I don’t much care for the notion that only opposite sex couples can be “married”, while same sex couples are restricted to “civil unions”. A committed relationship is a committed relationship, and it shouldn’t matter if the partners are straight, gay, or lesbian. The “separate but equal” approach to civil rights wasn’t appropriate before and it’s just as inappropriate now. Not that anybody cares what I think….

  11. #11 Lurkbot
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t know why somebody doesn’t explain to these “sanctity of marriage” whackos that they lost the battle long ago. People go down to City Hall and get “married.” If marriage is a religious institution that wouldn’t be possible. The government was under no obligation to call these Civil Unions “marriage”, but they did. End of story.

    These nuts are still fighting the Spanish Civil War. When the Papal Legate was asked to denounce the atrocities of the Nationalists and their German allies, his answer was: “The Church is persecuted in Barcelona.” By which he meant that the (legitimately elected) government had begun allowing civil marriage. (And public, i.e. non-Catholic, schools–but that’s another discussion.)

  12. #12 davidp
    December 9, 2008

    Shastra: “It’s not a religious sacrament”

    Actually in the Roman Catholic church, marriage is a scarament “seen as a sign of the love uniting Christ and the Church, establishes between the spouses a permanent and exclusive bond, sealed by God” (Wikepedia “Sacraments of the Catholic Church”)

  13. #13 DLC
    December 9, 2008

    I have advocated before that Churches should be allowed to confer whatever marriage they wish, so long as the marriage/union/joining/partnership is registered with the government. Individuals not meeting that church’s criteria for marriage should then be permitted to go to the state for their own marriage/joining/partnership. The state should recognize only such marriages which are properly registered and which are otherwise lawfully done. (as in, no bigamy, no underage marriages, both parties must consent, etc)
    Whatever the word “marriage” means to people, it should mean only one thing to Government, and should carry the same meaning across the board.

  14. #14 usagi
    December 9, 2008

    Nice sentiment, but “marriage” is too far embedded in the law. Marriage confers rights and benefits that other states of legal partnership do not. Whether a specific church allows a couple to participate in a religious ritual under their aegis has never been a state issue, despite the lies about that non-issue being thrown around.

  15. #15 Marcus Ranum
    December 9, 2008

    The simple solution is to grant marriage no legal meaning whatsoever. As long as it has no financial or political value then anyone who wants it can have it, or ignore it, or whatever. As you can see by human behaviors (cheating, divorce) – only a small percentage of any population takes it seriously anyway.

  16. #16 DuWayne
    December 9, 2008

    Heh, I’ve been saying that since my teen angst years, when I first got jaded to he institution of marriage and before I had the first clue about gay rights…..

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