Friday, August 31, 2007

Weekend: Marriage

I was listening to the news a few days ago and a short blurb came on, something about Arnold Schwartzenegger wanting to eliminate the word "marriage" from California's constitution.

There's a part of me that believes this would be the right move in many regards.

Of course, these are just my opinions and not a reflection of Thai culture or any other culture. They're just thoughts that have been floating in the recesses of my mind for a few years now.

Personally, I don't see marriage as a socially superior status. There is nothing wrong with people choosing to live together or choosing to remain single.

In social terms, it is completely irrelevant. It indicates nothing about individual or social character.

And it is no justification for tax breaks.

Relational status should have no bearing on the availability of social resources or benefits.

I've always leaned toward a flat tax system in all countries that tax. Why should someone who is married with children (a social choice) have more tax benefits than a single person with children? (Ed for clarification: I am not suggesting that those who have children should not have any tax breaks. Naturally, I would rather see social services available that would make them unnecessary. However, I am suggesting that those who choose to have children outside of the traditional relationship configuration should have equal rights and that includes gay people. Hope that's a bit more clear. - cs :)

I believe that eliminating "marriage" from the constitution and replacing it with "civil union" would be effective and would ultimately have a positive effect. However one chooses to honor the union spiritually would be an individual matter. Civil unions would be a way to include gays, lesbians, straights or asexuals, anyone who wants to pair up with someone else for inheritance purposes, medical power of attorney or any purpose those people consider valid.

Well, just a few thoughts. What are yours? Just to add a bit more spice to the mix, do you believe any kind of mating is acceptable, as long as it is not exploitative? That would include, say, polygamy? How about a large intentional community where everyone is responsible for seeing to the children?



heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have always believed that government should not be involved in personal relationships.

I agree completely that gay marriage should be recognized as equal to straight marriage, as long as the concept of marriage exists.

Legal marriage originally came about for the protection of children, but considering the number of deadbeat parents out there, this hasn't performed as hoped.

Being a bit socialistic by inclination, though, I don't agree that people with children should not get tax breaks. (From each according to his means, to each according to his needs.)

This is admittedly colored by my own experience raising three children alone with no help from anyone. I am also aware that some people deliberately have many children as a means of milking the social services system.

But I still think there should be something in place to help those who find themselves in dire straits with dependent children, even though some abuse of the system occurs.

I seem to have gotten into a different area, here, social services as opposed to tax breaks, which was your original point. The fact remains, though, that those with children have expenses that those without do not, and I believe there should be some compensations for them.

blooming desertpea said...

I think "marriage" is just a word. If we use "marriage" or "civil union" for pairs who want to 'bond for life' doesn't change the value of the thing but I agree with you on the contents that heteros and homos should be entitled to do so.

In terms of tax benefits I am with heartinsanfrancisco - one income for one person is not equal to one income for 3 or more and it is only fair that families get some benefits for maintaining the population of this earth - lol.

enigma4ever said...

This is interesting....I agree with alot of what is said above..and I think in this country "Marriage " is painted in such a way that it is held as a special privelege....I think Civil Unions being validated would in many ways create a much more civilized environment related to so many issues, from benifits, to childcare, to inheritance, and I really think people that have long lasting relationships should the rights that that affords- I think "Marriage" is exploited and used shamefully by elected people to continue legislating with a homophobic really upsets me that we have slide back into the 1950's on so many issues....

Julie Pippert said...

1. Ahnold wants to remove "marriage" from the const.? Why? To what end? For what purpose? Based on whose prodding?

When I know that I'll have an opinion. ;)

2. Flat tax makes societal sense but NOT in the US as it is now. Only if the government fairly provided, such as in Norway, for health care, education, retirement, etc.

Marrying and having children might be a choice but it's one some make to the benefit (OH YES IT IS!) of others.

And it costs a lot. Trust me.

I don't like to hear that I ought to be "penalized" for "choosing to procreate" as if that choice is some burden on society.

We bring a lot to the table, believe you me.

I find it a little ironic to hear you go that direction, when I thought in general you veered toward a general "commune" type of society.

Although that tax system might seem out of line, in truth, it is simply weighting value and currying contribution in different ways from different people.

3. Honestly, legalize partnerships and provide fair bennies. It seems so simple to me. I think often the "more complicated" is a euphemism for "I don't like homosexuality."

Ravin' Picture Maven

Emily said...

While I agree to tax breaks for folks with kids, I think:
-- there should be a limit to discourage people from having lots of kids and straining the planet (adoption excluded)
-- tax breaks for married folks without kids are just silly.

flutter said...

I think that it would be more equitable to have civil unions, across the board.

thailandchani said...

Susan, I'm not taking the position that social services should not be available. That's not how I believe at all.

I am saying though that marriage shouldn't be any different than any other social choice.

I also want to see a way for gay people's partnerships to be honored as well.


DesertPea, I can see your point on the taxes. It's true that it costs more for people to raise children than for one to be single. At the same time, I don't think one's marriage status should enter into it.. and it does.

If I, as a single woman, had chosen to have children alone, I would have been penalized for that by the tax system.


Enigma, very true. "Marriage" is used in entirely the wrong way. Marriage should be a spiritual thing, performed in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples or wats ~ for the purposes of spiritual bonding. It shouldn't afford anyone a superior status in any regard.

It's putting a value judgment on styles of relationship building.

And.. what about gay people? That's really what the crux of this is about.


Julie, you're absolutely right about flat tax not working in the US as it is now. There would have to be more expansive social services with all citizens having an equal right to them.

I don't want to penalize people for having children.. but I also don't want to see people who choose to have children in a different type of relationship configuration than male/female marriage subjected to any kind of discrimination.




slouching mom said...

i don't care what it's called (marriage/civil union) as long as every committed couple has equal access to the benefits it confers.

Julie Pippert said...

Whew glad I asked and you clarified!!

Yes, much more clear what you mean.

Yes, absolutely I agree. Those exclusionary benefits are obnoxious (but note my Emersonian acceptance of them for myself instead of my Thoreauian rejection of them---I do my best with letters of protest and voting, no need to cut off the nose LOL)

Ravin' Picture Maven

meno said...

Marriage should be left to churches. The government should only perform/endorse/license civil unions.

I am not sure how i feel about polygamy. I worry about any kids and what would happen to them. Although i suppose that many kids go through difficulties anyway with divorces and re-marriages and etc.

mitzh said...

what desertpea said...

Christine said...

i pretty much agree with slouchy up there. in some way it is semantics. marriage/civil union all words. why can't gay people be "married?" if someone wants it blessed by a church ok if not ok. rthe religious aspect of it is personal and shouldn't affect the political ramifications of it. two people want to join their lives and resources legally, ok. i think any two people of age who want to be married/civil unioned whatever ought to be.

and i have a hard time believing (though some would argue) that polygamy can end up being anything other than exploitative.

a community where everyone raised each others kids could work I suspect, but not without some jealousy. not sure.

jen said...

i love intentional community philosophy but we'd be hard pressed to shift to that in such an individualistic owner based society.

as a proud member of a union not recognized by any branch of the government, i am all for broadening the definition.

ewe are here said...

It's late, I'm exhausted, so I may be back this weekend... but I have to say (respectfully, of course), that I don't think most people view marriage as a 'socially superior status' these days. In fact, married couples are penalized under the US tax system if both spouses work, they are not rewarded. It is only if one spouse stays home that they are 'rewarded', but only in the sense that both personal deductions are still applied I believe. Everyone gets a personal deduction, single or married.

I think 'marriage' perhaps should be a religious ceremony and that couples of all types -straight or gay- should be legally joined via a civil ceremony to acquire the rights and responsibilities they are accorded/responsible for under the law. And I think that's what a lot of people forget: while there are benefits to being married/civil unioned, there are also responsibilities. It's not a one-way street.

And while having children is indeed 'a social choice', those social choices are necessary for the future welfare of our country economically. We're going to need today's children to be tomorrow's future work force, a group who will pay taxes that indirectly support older generations (read: social security), and take jobs that directly take care of same (doctors, nurses, etc.) So giving a little extra support to the parents who are trying to raise them into productive citizens isn't completely unwarranted. (And believe me, it is only a little extra support, very little, especially over here.)

(Funnily enough, in the UK it's the reverse: you're penalized for being married and being a stay at home parent, and rewarded for two working parents. And single parents get all the tax credits. STrange.)

And I know this is incredibly garbled and poorly written off the top of my head ... but I'm totally wiped and have to get some sleep now. ;-)

Cecilieaux said...

One on-topic commen, one-leftovers.

1) re marriage, see my

2) This just in re Vick and dogs:


Snoskred said...

Can I just say first up that I think weddings which cost anything over say, $10,000 are a complete waste of money. Some of those wedding planning shows - and bridezillas - while very amusing television seem to show people going well overboard for just one day of their lives. It's just ONE day. Better to get married barefoot on the beach with a small reception at home than put yourself in debt for the next zillion years, I think.

As far as who can marry who and when, I really don't think it is anyones business. Especially not the govmint.

I believe anyone who wants to get married should be able to, and that includes same sex relationships.

I don't like the polygamy stuff, but I also don't like to judge, so.. to each their own.


thailandchani said...

Cecilieaux, read your post.

I'm certainly not arguing against commitment. In this life, according to my belief, we do have to have the ability to deal with the icky stuff, along with the good, fun stuff. As people age, they get cancer, they have strokes... things happen.. and I'd certainly hate to think anyone would become so disposable that imperfection would be a cause of abandonment or that she/he would become disposable because real life comes along and means it won't be like the third date anymore.

On the other hand, I believe adults are capable of determining their own contracts with one another. If two people are comfortable with the arrangement you've offered, then who am I to interfere?

As long as there's no deception involved...

As for polygamy, multiple husbands for a woman, mia noi (minor wife.. in traditional Thai culture), line marriage as described in the Heinlein book, monogamous marriage, gay marriage, lesbian marriage, marriage for convenience, arranged marriage... so on... I have no logical argument with any of them.

If I ever marry again, it will probably be a marriage of convenience. I'm not a particularly jealous person, so I don't care if he has a mia noi, as long as he doesn't lie about it. I have no tolerance for liars.

Different things work for different people.

I just believe social customs need to acknowledge that as well.

Back for more comments later. :)




thailandchani said...

Snos, just wanted to answer this one quickly, too.

I'm with you entirely on the thousands of dollars for a wedding. My ex-husband and I were married on the beach for forty dollars ~ and we both considered that to be the right thing to do. We wanted to use the larger amounts of money for other things.

What is it you dislike about polygamy? Not arguing for it.. but I'm just curious what others think. :)



Snoskred said...

Actually on checking, I think I confused Polygamy with polyamory.

I once knew someone who was committed to polyamory and she was easily one of the most self absorbed, narcissistic people I ever knew. She was also a complete beyotch.

She was in it for only her own pleasure, she didn't care about giving as well as getting from all reports, and I firmly believe she used it as an excuse to sleep with whoever she wanted whenever she wanted. So she was a bad example of it, at least in my eyes. Especially when she chose to sleep with someone who was in a committed relationship with another person - she effectively ruined that relationship, split them up. You couldn't trust her to be around any man you had something going with. I don't think she had any morals as far as oh, that person is with that person, I better keep off.

As far as polygamy, at least the polygyny version of it - I think it is one way men choose to "enslave" women.

For me, I could never devote my full attention to more than one person at a time. That's why I don't think the poly things are fair to the people involved. Especially when one partner gets to sleep with several wives but each wife only gets to sleep with one man. If she went out and slept with other men that would be completely unacceptable to the man involved most of the time - and how is that fair to anyone?

To each their own. ;) But that ain't for me.


Carla said...

I'm going to have to think about this and come back. I have some thoughts...just need to formulate them a little more before commenting.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see government get completely out of the marriage business. Marriage should be strictly a religious function, with neither penalties nor benefits.

And I disagree with you on tax cuts for breeders. Why should I subsidize somebody else's reproductive choice? The world already has far too many people- I think it's time to start taxing people who have children.

blooming desertpea said...

you're absolutely right that tax benefits are only for families with married parents - ugh - so, they should change that, too, change it too "families with one/two parents" - what do you say ...

ewe are here said...

snoskred & tc: May I join you both on the beach? ;-) I don't understand huge expensive go-into-debt weddings either. My husband and I were also married quietly on the beach with just a dozen close family members and friends in attendance. It was exactly what we wanted. And we all went to a lovely restaurant and had a lovely dinner afterwards. Perfect day.

painted maypole said...

I think that anyone who wants to be married or united or partnered or whatever should be allowed to. And shared benefits, and admittance into hospital rooms and next of kin status and all that. I think single people raising children should get the same breaks married people do, maybe even greater. And polygamy? Look... I wouldn't want to do it myself, but I see no reason why it has to be illegal. Who does it hurt? There is certainly biblical basis for it, in fact, never in the bible does it say you can only have one wife. So what's the beef? Again, i don't think it would work for me, but my husband and I talked about this after watching Big Love on HBO, and wondered why it's such a big deal.

Laurie said...

Great discussion here. I agree that the word marriage should be taken out and replaced with civil union. It makes a great deal of sense to me.

Lex said...

I was actually thinking about marriage vs. civil unions for inheritance purposes and medical power of attorney just the other day. In those cases, as well as gay unions, I don't mind eliminating the word marriage.

I think the institution itself is fine for those who choose it, but I would love to see other unions equally valued in tax law as well as in social discourse.

I haven't read all of the comments, but it seems like we're steering clear of the mating question. (LOL). I am tempted to agree that any kind of non-exploitative mating is acceptable, but with the broadest possible parameters on the definition of exploitative. I think polygamy is inherently exploitative. And if the concept itself is not, I can hardly think of a context in which it exists that isn't.

I love to challenge my ideas about community. The large intentional community where everyone is responsible for the children sounds wonderful to me. But if it grants everyone equal access to the children, it scares me to death.

My utopian fantasies are always mitigated by my fears.

QT said...

Chani - I think the only reason the government is involved in marriage, per se, is because of the rights conferred by its legal status on the two people getting married. I think the definition should apply to any two people who would like to enter into a committed relationship -however, I think for the sake of both partners and any resultant children, natural or adopted, legal docs spelling out everyone's rights must become mandatory so there is no confusion and no refusals that can be made on religious grounds (ie, the hospital, etc).

Polygamy never seems to work out to the benefit of the women involved, from the accounts I have read. Very few of them were voluntarily involved in that lifestyle.