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October 28, 2006

PostGlobal: "Should homosexuals marry"

The latest PostGlobal discussion topic is: "Should homosexuals marry?" (Odd phrasing, I know.)

I've submitted my response and the discussion should be going live sometime this afternoon at the PostGlobal site.

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Only if they want to.

Lucid and compelling. I've always been partial to the gender discrimination angle.

Short, sweet and to the point. Thanks, Lindsay.

"If gay marriage is about equality under the law, then there should be one name for all these state-sanctioned partnership agreements: 'marriage.'"

That's not technically true, is it?

I mean, in theory there's a second option: dropping the term marriage from the legal vocabulary for all state-sanctioned civil unions.

It seems that if the opponents of "gay marriage" (in the most literal sense) weren't about discrimination, at least some of them would pursue that line of argument.

Unless I'm forgetting something, of course.

I always have a problem with this kind of reasoning because it just begs people to counter with:

Any single adult citizen has the right to marry any other single adult citizen of the oppsite sex.

Both are internally consistent because they rely on different premise definitions, which are inherently arbitrary
Both imply a level of equity.

Why single however?

If its a contract and both parties agree, why discriminate?

If one can disagree with the definition of 'one man, one woman', you can just as easily disagree with the definition, 'one person, one person'.

The real issue is individual rights, versus, benefits/harm to society.

Does extending the definition of marriage harm society to a degree that individual freedoms must be curtailed?

And what is the balance that works best?

Personally, I think the government should stay out of religion, and 'marriage' really is a religious institution.

Civil unions seems the reasonable answer... including polygamy, and those not based on sex, if a general consensus of the community believes its more a benefit than a harm.

I think it's insane to think that in this day and age, marriage is a religious institution vs. a civil contract.

I'm married and I'm not religious. In fact I'm a hardcore atheist.

Joe- Civil unions seems the reasonable answer... including polygamy, and those not based on sex, if a general consensus of the community believes its more a benefit than a harm.

I've had to explain this all to elderly Church going Christians and the fact is marriage's most powerful impact is on next-of-kin. Unitary marriage/civil unions clarify next-of-kin issues and polygamy muddies them. Plain and simple- my husband is my next-of-kin and I am his.

Why is it such a hotbutton issue? Three children in a playground, big box of coloured balls. Child one has the only red ball. Child Two and Child Three will only play with red ball. Child One is not in the mood to share. Child Two and Three do not want to play with any of the other equal sized but different coloured balls. Picture end result yourself.

Mudkitty,

I'm as atheist as you get, which means I'm unusual. I'm a minority. For the vast majority of people in the world, marriage is a religious institution. You and I are poor anecdotes for marriage. Of course, I'm worse, I'm in my thirties and single.

Hawise,

People will fight over your balls married or not. I agree polygamy complicates things, so does divorce.

I'm not against civil polygamy in principle. I wouldn't care if civil polygamy were called "marriage." However, one battle at a time.

The vast majority of the world needs civil courts to enforce their religious institution. No...it is a civil contract. If you sign the contract, it's a contract. Now you can dress it up with a ceremony...or what not.

Look, if every marraige were religious only, the world would be in chaos.

LB - people who argue the slippery slope argument are people who's parents kept them out of health class and biology.

In other words, people who can't tell the difference between polygamy and gay marriage also need to go back to elementary school and take a math class.

It's a different argument for a different time.

I'm not against civil polygamy in principle, but it raises enormous practical questions that same-sex marriage does not, just from the combinatorics and from the fact that existing law depends heavily on marriage involving at most two people. These are not insurmountable problems but they are significant.

If person A is married to B and B is married to C, is A married to C? If so, is it automatic, and can A divorce C but not B? Will there have to be different types of recognition for different marriage topologies (star networks, chains, rings, tightly connected clusters with looser intercluster relations, etc.)? How does polygamy affect automatic designation of spouses as primary insurance beneficiaries? If a thousand people are married to one another, are they all protected from testifying in court against other members of the group? The tax code alone would need a lot of work if multiple spouses are allowed.

There would probably have to be arbitrary limits imposed on the practice; it might well be possible to choose limits that most poly groups would not consider onerous, but the matter needs a lot of thought.

The traditional polygynous arrangement of one man with multiple wives, who are married to the man but not married to one another, is comparatively simple and ratified by tradition, but only allowing that would be manifestly sexist. Allowing only one-to-many marriages regardless of sex would be better, but, I suspect, exclude many arrangements that people might want.

Same-sex monogamous marriage is comparatively trivial; it works just like opposite-sex marriage except for the sex of the people involved, so there is very little bureaucratic cost to adopting it.

Gay marriage will eventually be legal and the whole debate will be as dated as the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. The issue is already failing to draw panic-stricken, worrywart wingnuts to the polls as it once did.

I’m afraid that just as miscegenation leads to mongrelized half-breeds, gay marriage will lead to bisexuals. The horror, the unspeakable horror!!

If person A is married to B and B is married to C, is A married to C? If so, is it automatic, and can A divorce C but not B? Will there have to be different types of recognition for different marriage topologies (star networks, chains, rings, tightly connected clusters with looser intercluster relations, etc.)? How does polygamy affect automatic designation of spouses as primary insurance beneficiaries? If a thousand people are married to one another, are they all protected from testifying in court against other members of the group? The tax code alone would need a lot of work if multiple spouses are allowed.

The two most common polyamorous arrangements are primary-secondary and closed multiple primary. In primary-secondary, there're two people who're together as a couple but are allowed to form secondary relationships with other people; in that case, few to no changes are needed to current marriage law. In closed multiple primary, there are n people who are primary to one another and function as a household no different from a 2-person marriage; in that case, the law can be tweaked to allow n-person marriages, say with 2 <= n <= 6, with all the usual privileges and benefits, and say that divorce involves one partner withdrawing from the married group or even the married group splitting into two subgroups.

Agree with Cfrost.

AL - you're overthinking things again.

Polygamists are going to have to take a number.

Polygamists are going to have to take a number.

*rimshot*

Thanks for the pointer. I put in my 2 cents. Looks like the polling, if you want to take it as that, is almost unanimously for gay marriage. This must be a forum where benighted fundies fear to tread or do they just never read WaPo?

If person A is married to B and B is married to C, is A married to C? If so, is it automatic, and can A divorce C but not B?

Interesting to see the associativity rule applied to marriage. Very funny. To answer, I would say it depends on the contract, but in most cases no. Using logic, if A is no longer associated with B, then the relationship between B and C hasn't changed, however, A is no longer associated with C. They don't retain association if that very association is broken. They would have to have had a different sort of contract, one where not only is partner X marrying partner Y, but also partner Z for each partner in the relationship.

Will there have to be different types of recognition for different marriage topologies (star networks, chains, rings, tightly connected clusters with looser intercluster relations, etc.)?

Getting all Comp Sci with this aren't we! I would say yes, the legistators would have to define each individuals rights in the relationship, and what rights they have when that relationship ends. Each contract would allow for a variety of stipulations, such as if one person dies, the other partners can choose to maintain the partnership, or disvolve it if the partner which left or died was the binding partner between the two. For instance, if you had to wives with a man, neither wanted to leave the "marriage" since they enjoy certain economic benefits and neither at the time wants to marry. At anytime both might decide to bring another man into the "marriage", but that would require another contract.

How does polygamy affect automatic designation of spouses as primary insurance beneficiaries? If a thousand people are married to one another, are they all protected from testifying in court against other members of the group? The tax code alone would need a lot of work if multiple spouses are allowed.

Again, in cases were you could have N number of people married to each other, you would have to right the law for say your base case, two people, and then elaborate it for the N case, which may not work the same as the base case. So in the case for a single spouse, they would be the primary beneficiary, but for N number of individuals, they would all be equal beneficiaries if one member died. However, it would be hard to
prove a relationship between N number of people if they don't ever interact with each other. Say people were just getting married to get married, you could have a law saying that each person must share the same household as the other. This would eliminate communities of households from linking to others in a chain effect to derive benefits from taxes, etc. through marriage.


There would probably have to be arbitrary limits imposed on the practice; it might well be possible to choose limits that most poly groups would not consider onerous, but the matter needs a lot of thought.

Agreed.

The traditional polygynous arrangement of one man with multiple wives, who are married to the man but not married to one another, is comparatively simple and ratified by tradition, but only allowing that would be manifestly sexist. Allowing only one-to-many marriages regardless of sex would be better, but, I suspect, exclude many arrangements that people might want.

Possibly, or you enforce a law such that each person in the poly "marriage" must reside for some span of time with other members of the poly "marriage". Sex shouldn't determine the relationship or be exclusive, but also just shouldn't allow people benefits of a "partnership" just for the sake of acquiring those benefits. For instance, should two college roommates who jointly rent a house be allowed to marry if the nature of the relationship is soley for economic reasons? Is there a need to establish "intimacy" or should anyone be allowed to marry who desires it, even just to acquire benefits of marriage? Also, should certain benefits for being single be withheld and only granted to those married, or should all benefits be given equally making people seeking marriage for economic reasons less of a factor, and make marriage benefits simply legal matters of economic dispensation and child custody upon death of a member? When it comes down to it, almost nothing a marriage person gets out of a relationship couldn't be legally contracted out via another means making the institution itself irrelevant. The only reasons for marriage then are to associate one person with another, so who really cares why.

Same-sex monogamous marriage is comparatively trivial; it works just like opposite-sex marriage except for the sex of the people involved, so there is very little bureaucratic cost to adopting it.

Agreed.

AL - you're overthinking things again.

Nah, this is interesting stuff :)

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