Definition of Marriage

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:27 pm UTC

firechicago wrote:I think the argument (when it's actually coherently presented as a logical argument and not as a religious dictum or just some variation on "gay sex? yuck!") goes something like this:

Marriage as an institution is primarily intended to create stable, committed, opposite-sex couples committed to the raising of biological children.....


...sort of. It involves a lot of being remarkably offended over damage done to a definition or to an "institution", while being really terrible about demonstrating actual harm to actual people. Oh, they'll happily imply or outright state that the children(always the children) are being harmed, but actual evidence....ehhhh.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:43 pm UTC

I think a problem in people's minds is that there is not, and cannot be, one single definition of marriage in Western (or at least American) society, because of the separation of Church and State. There is legal marriage, which is whatever a community/state/nation decides democratically that it should mean, and there is Marriage, the holy Sacrament of the Church. If someone makes a statement "Gays can't get married" then, well, that's demonstrably quite false under the legal definition of marriage (results may vary by location). But if a church - Catholic (in my case), Mormon, Baptist, etc. - makes an exclusive statement about marriage, it really shouldn't offend anyone. Because if, as is the case, the Catholic Church states a marriage has to be not only between one man and one woman, but also there are more specific requirements that both partners be Baptized, in good standing with the Church, and never have been divorced, well, then why would a gay couple or atheist want to argue that they should be included in this? If the club is exclusive, and they don't want to (or can't) change who they are to meet the requirements to join, then they are probably better off joining some other club, right? I mean, I can't join the Sons of Confederate Veterans, even if want to, because my ancestors fought on the other side of that war. I shouldn't try to get them to change their membership requirements just so I can join.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:45 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:I think the problem here is that there is not, and cannot be, one single definition of marriage in Western society, because of the separation of Church and State. There is legal marriage, which is whatever a community/state/nation decides democratically that it should mean, and there is Marriage
This is a fine separation to attempt, as people have mentioned earlier in the thread. The problem is there isn't separation of Church and State, as evidenced by religious groups lobbying against same sex marriage.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:46 pm UTC

Oh, I don't give a crap if churches don't recognize my marriage as holy because of atheism or whatever, but I'd be a bit annoyed if they tried to get atheists banned from marrying under the law.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby rieschen » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:48 pm UTC

leady wrote:But why bother to legally formalise an agreement between two equal parties in the absence of actual or potential dependents? You stay together then all is good, you don't all is good. Theres is no reason for preferential inheritenance laws, transferable pensions etc for example in other viewpoints, which all exist as a consequence of the historic and continuing economic impacts of children on their parents (or strictly generally on one and the consequences shared).

Prioritisation of kin is easily handled via far simpler legal means I would suggest


The marriage is a contract that formalizes this arrangement, and that allows people in it to make choices that they couldn't make if they didn't have safety in case they split (i.e. abandoning their career). It mostly means financial responsibility for each other - i.e. spousal support. It's also a way to make visible work that the partner who is in this contract and who's not getting financial reward is doing - that can be studying to further future career options, household work, cooking fresh meals, keeping livestock or running a garden, emotional support, expanding the size of the house etc. Just generally having the working partner's back.

I'm sorry if my examples are awkward, these were the first things that came to minds in terms of things stay-at-home partners I know do that's not child-rearing.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:51 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Oh, I don't give a crap if churches don't recognize my marriage as holy because of atheism or whatever, but I'd be a bit annoyed if they tried to get atheists banned from marrying under the law.


Well, the beautiful thing about democracy is that they are allowed to try. And sometimes the law will pass, and sometimes the law will fail, based on the consent of the people.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:54 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Oh, I don't give a crap if churches don't recognize my marriage as holy because of atheism or whatever, but I'd be a bit annoyed if they tried to get atheists banned from marrying under the law.


Well, the beautiful thing about democracy is that they are allowed to try. And sometimes the law will pass, and sometimes the law will fail, based on the consent of the people.


"beautiful" indeed....

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Whizbang » Tue Apr 22, 2014 1:55 pm UTC

I am an athiest who was married to a Catholic by a Catholic Priest. Catholic's only care if half of the union is Catholic. I did have to promise to raise our children as Catholic, though. So this gives evidence (if any was needed) that Catholics at least are open to inter-faith/non-faith marriage. So why not same sex? Because of the children clause? There are many Catholic marriages that do not result in children. The Catholic Church is known for wanting couples to have children, and have them often, but if a couple is incapable of having children, they don't deny them the right to get married in the church. So why the problem with gays? Especially if a gay couple adopts children and raises them as Catholic, what's the problem?

Anyway, yeah. Civil marriage needs to be separated from religious marriage.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:01 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Oh, I don't give a crap if churches don't recognize my marriage as holy because of atheism or whatever, but I'd be a bit annoyed if they tried to get atheists banned from marrying under the law.


Well, the beautiful thing about democracy is that they are allowed to try. And sometimes the law will pass, and sometimes the law will fail, based on the consent of the people.
The problem is if the consent of the people is religiously motivated. Particularly, religiously motivated in such a manner that rather cherrypicks the religious law.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:12 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The problem is there isn't separation of Church and State, as evidenced by religious groups lobbying against same sex marriage.


Izawwlgood wrote:The problem is if the consent of the people is religiously motivated. Particularly, religiously motivated in such a manner that rather cherrypicks the religious law.


I'm not sure I understand why this is a problem... Don't religious groups have as much right as anyone else to lobby for changing laws? Separation of church and state doesn't mean that laws can't be based on religious principles... the majority of the laws in the U.S. are still based on (or at least, in agreement with) the Bible, although obviously this has decreased since the Pilgrim's theocracy, which led to the Salem witch hunts, and the subsequent establishment of the United States as not being run by the Church. Laws like "don't murder people" and "don't steal things".
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:20 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Don't religious groups have as much right as anyone else to lobby for changing laws? Separation of church and state doesn't mean that laws can't be based on religious principles
No, actually, it means that government can make no laws abridging the rights of freedom of religion, but over time, has come to mean the opposite in popular dialogue.

Religions should NOT have a right to abridge the rights of citizens. Which is what we see with religion lobbying against same sex marriage. Which is also hilariously, but more off topic, what we see with religion probably pushing to maintain tax exemption.

mathmannix wrote:he majority of the laws in the U.S. are still based on (or at least, in agreement with) the Bible, although obviously this has decreased since the Pilgrim's theocracy, which led to the Salem witch hunts, and the subsequent establishment of the United States as not being run by the Church. Laws like "don't murder people" and "don't steal things".
This is a wild misnomer; morality and ethics don't come from religion. Just because religion codified that stuff in a really popular text doesn't mean that we can thank the Ten Commandments for the law 'Don't murder'. You can have general legal protection of basic rights and bylaws without religion. In fact, it was first codified in a secular manner.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:38 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Children were typically raised by the community/tribe until modern civilization.

That's a broad statement to make without any reasoning or reference. In historical-anthropological circles this sort of thing is still very much an open debate. (Hint: a lot of the earlier research was misleading, assumptive or invented.)

CorruptUser wrote:Technically, women contribute more DNA than men. Mitochondria and all. So women arguably have a 'larger' claim on children.

There is a presumption here that a trivial difference of inherited genetic material has substantial significance in terms of parentage. Can you justify why this is this even relevant?

Ormurinn wrote:Again this is supported by studies, a big part of urban dysfunction is criminal fathers who are imprisoned, so there are no positive male role models in their community, so their sons grow up without masculine virtue, so they become criminals, who get locked up, so there are no male role models....

Er, cite?

speising wrote:the reason for those laws stems from the times when wifes were supposed to care for the household, while the men earned the money. in this scenario, it is necessary to secure some means for the woman when the man dies. of course, there used to be laws where the husband could completely disinherit his wife in his will, but that is not possible anymore, at least here.

This... sounds made up. What time was this? And where was this?

mathmannix wrote:Well, the beautiful thing about democracy is that they are allowed to try. And sometimes the law will pass, and sometimes the law will fail, based on the consent of the people.

But that's not the argument you were just making. You were saying people shouldn't be offended if churches make their own rules about who they marry. Democracy doesn't enter into it – we could just as easily sue to prevent churches from being able to marry people at all, and it would also be beautifully democratic but to the same extent that it would be completely irrelevant to the point you were just making.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby speising » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:49 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
speising wrote:the reason for those laws stems from the times when wifes were supposed to care for the household, while the men earned the money. in this scenario, it is necessary to secure some means for the woman when the man dies. of course, there used to be laws where the husband could completely disinherit his wife in his will, but that is not possible anymore, at least here.

This... sounds made up. What time was this? And where was this?

i'm thinking of some victorian-era literature, but can't point to anything specific.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:55 pm UTC

speising wrote:i'm thinking of some victorian-era literature, but can't point to anything specific.

Written about the Victorian era or in the Victorian era? If the latter, definitely made up.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby JBJ » Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:32 pm UTC

leady wrote:Prioritisation of kin is easily handled via far simpler legal means I would suggest

Marriage establishes the spouse as first in line for all existing and future assets/obligations. In one act. One could certainly designate a non-married partner as the primary for everything, but each item would have to be handled separately. Far from simple. And if something is forgotten or overlooked then the non-married partner is going to have a tough time establishing their claim.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Enuja » Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:40 pm UTC

To me, the institution of marriage is a formal arrangement for organizing property and building ties and interactions between groups (between families), which has recently (in the last few hundred years), been co-opted by the ideal of romantic love (one true love, soul mates, ect). I don't like either of these goals, so I dislike marriage.

One thing that I think is missing in a lot of the discussion about marriage so far in this thread is the larger familial connections in marriage. You've got a family business of jewelry making, but no source of metal. So one of the members of the jewelry making family marries a mining family. Or there are two families that have a conflict over the tract of land between their territories. So some people get married, and the joined part of these two formerly conflicting families now owns that land in the middle, to everyone's pleasure and benefit. These are painfully cartoony examples, but I do think that the principle is sound. And it explains why atheists or a lesbians might want to get married in the Catholic Church: the atheist and the lesbian have larger families, and broader social ties and networks, and those networks value the religious marriage.

In Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage,* Stephanie Coontz describes some historical research on medieval plagues, showing that there were marriage booms after plagues, supporting the theory that marriage was creating economic units, and when those units were destroyed, new ones had to be made. (I forget how alternative theories were rejected.) But I think we can all agree that marriage used to be, in large part, about property and economic pressure. Personally, I don't want my romantic relationships to be tangled up in my property and economic relationships. Especially because women, and their childbearing, was itself often a very important part of the property in a marriage. And I don't want to be property.

I want my economic ties to be broader than with one person, to be anchored in things more lasting than romantic love, and I want to be able to have a robust social living situation, while romantically loving people who do not always fit as with me as residential partners. One reason a lot of people minimize the importance of extended family to marriage is that most people don't live with or directly adjacent to their extended family any more. But they used to. And marriage used to be a great way to bring adults into those networks of support.

I adore the movement for gay marriage as a powerful way of queering marriage, of making it less about the owner and the owned and more egalitarian, more modern, more useful in our current society. If there is a way to make the institution of marriage a good thing instead of an ill-fitting graft from the past, gay marriage is going to get us there. And non-monogamy is going to help, by helping to wash away the poisonous ideas of "one true love."

I say all this as a person who was legally married for 7 years, and who was sad to break up with my spouse. But I got a good consolation prize: an annual divorce party!

*Anyone who is at all interested in the western institution of marriage should read this book. It is awesome! Even though Coontz likes marriage a lot more than I do.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:51 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Technically, women contribute more DNA than men. Mitochondria and all. So women arguably have a 'larger' claim on children.

There is a presumption here that a trivial difference of inherited genetic material has substantial significance in terms of parentage. Can you justify why this is this even relevant?


I assume that this is more humorous aside than a claim of female superiority.

After all, it seems unlikely that people would claim that adoptive parents are somehow lesser than biological parents. Incidentally, that same reasoning should handle all issues with couples who are biologically unable to have children.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby firechicago » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:07 pm UTC

One of the biggest issues with the "let's just make it all into one big contract" approach is that lots of the legal rights and duties of marriage as currently constituted have to do with how third parties (especially regulated companies and the government) treat the married couple. For one real world example, in the state of Massachusetts, if you want to have life insurance with anyone other than your spouse as beneficiary, you have to first get your spouse's consent. As the current system stands, it's the job of the insurance companies to enforce this by asking if you're married, doing a basic records check to see if you're telling the truth, and then requiring you to fill out a form and get your spouse to sign it if you're married and want to make someone else your primary beneficiary. If you lie during this process, then you're guilty of fraud, and the insurance company can cancel your policy or deny any claims, which eliminates the incentive to do so.

How would this work in a world in which marriage was just a contract between two spouses? A contract could certainly prohibit this, but the insurance company wouldn't be a party to the contract, so it wouldn't play any sort of enforcement role, meaning that breaking the contract could easily not be discovered until the shit hits the fan. Imagine a situation where a husband changes his life insurance beneficiary from his wife to his mistress, and then dies, leaving the wife destitute and the mistress with a fat pile of cash. What recourse does the wife have here? She can't sue the mistress, because the mistress isn't bound by the terms of the marriage contract. She can't sue the insurance company because they're not bound by the marriage contract either. She might sue her husband's estate, but she's probably already getting all the money from the estate, so there's unlikely to be any left to pay any judgment, and even if there is, the people getting punished are the other heirs, not the guilty party. The whole system becomes unworkable because there's a mismatch between who has the requirement to enforce the contract, and who has the ability to do so.

And even if you ignore issues like this, there's still the fact that marriage brings with it hundreds or thousands of little rights and privileges like this, and enumerating them all would be the work of days or weeks for a lawyer (billing by the hour the whole time). That might be worth it if you want to pick and choose exactly which rights and obligations are included in your particular marriage, but it would be a disaster for the 90% of people who just want to have the same rights and privileges as everyone else. Much better to simply have the government define one set of rights and privileges, and then let people take or leave that as they will.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 22, 2014 4:22 pm UTC

For my contribution, I think marriage should be something that is defined narrowly and interpreted broadly. "Defined narrowly" for legal reasons, and "interpreted broadly" because life is messy and throws up weird things the legislature doesn't expect.

There was a curious instance, for example, where initial draft reforms for the UK Marriage Act allowed for brothers to marry brothers, and sisters to marry sisters, due to curious wording. (The 1949 Act goes into detail about how a man can't marry his sister, aunty, mother, and so on, but because it said nothing about his brother, uncle, father, etc. then technically that was allowed if reforms weren't careful to amend that part. It is a long, long document, which should offer some hints to people trying to define marriage.)

I don't have a legal mind, so I won't offer my own definition, but I think any workable definition would have to carefully study the nature of committed relationships as they are, and not as they ought to be. That is, there's not much point legislating against infidelity if you observe infidelity to be common – those laws will either go unenforced, or they'll be selectively enforced, which will do little to actually discourage infidelity.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:28 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:There was a curious instance, for example, where initial draft reforms for the UK Marriage Act allowed for brothers to marry brothers, and sisters to marry sisters, due to curious wording.

Is that bad? Why shouldn't two brothers be allowed to marry?

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:31 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:There was a curious instance, for example, where initial draft reforms for the UK Marriage Act allowed for brothers to marry brothers, and sisters to marry sisters, due to curious wording.

Is that bad? Why shouldn't two brothers be allowed to marry?

Nope, not playing.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby speising » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:32 pm UTC

because they are already family, for one.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:36 pm UTC

Sex is heavily implied in the institution of marriage. Incest is banned, even if brothers can't produce any 'cursed by Apollo' offspring into this world, no matter how hot identical twin brothers making out, with one gently carassing the other's hair while the other grabs his back, the ocean spray upon their young supple bodies, perfectly ripped abs glistening as they rub together, and where was I again?

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:43 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:There was a curious instance, for example, where initial draft reforms for the UK Marriage Act allowed for brothers to marry brothers, and sisters to marry sisters, due to curious wording.

Is that bad? Why shouldn't two brothers be allowed to marry?
I'll bite; I feel they should, because as mentioned by I think you even, the institution of marriage is a silly one and civil unions should be granted to any consulting adults who want one.

My own squishness of sibling sex aside, it's well and truly none of my business what people do with their lives so long as they aren't negatively affecting others. If Churches or synagogues don't want to marry two siblings, all the more power to those religious institutions, but I see no reason why two consenting adults shouldn't be granted the same legal benefits available to everyone.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:09 pm UTC

Does government have the right to ban incest? If it's because of health issues, does the government also have the right to ban sex between people with other genetic issues (eg, Tay Sachs carriers)?

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:24 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Sex is heavily implied in the institution of marriage. Incest is banned, even if brothers can't produce any 'cursed by Apollo' offspring into this world...

That logic sounds circular to me. Why shouldn't they be allowed to get married and have married sex? Because it's not allowed, that's why.

To be fair I'll share my personal perception of marriage: It's a lifelong religious union of two religious people in a religious building by an esteemed religious person. If I had my druthers, that'd be what everyone meant when they said "marriage." But I've found that people tend to use that word for lots of other things, too. As far as the state is concerned, everyone should be allowed to gain equal benefits, privileges, and protections. I'd prefer that state unions not be called marriage, as I think it's a religious thing, but until I convince everyone in the country to turn in their marriage license, I'm not going to champion that cause.
CorruptUser wrote:Does government have the right to ban incest? If it's because of health issues, does the government also have the right to ban sex between people with other genetic issues (eg, Tay Sachs carriers)?
I don't think governments have rights at all. They could ban lots of things, but most are an infringement on individual rights. As far as concerns over the health of potential offspring, I think that's an area the government should stay away from, and I think the public perception that all products of incest will be monster babies is mostly due to fearmongering. And finally, as you mentioned, that doesn't really apply to brothers.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby setzer777 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:36 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:There was a curious instance, for example, where initial draft reforms for the UK Marriage Act allowed for brothers to marry brothers, and sisters to marry sisters, due to curious wording.

Is that bad? Why shouldn't two brothers be allowed to marry?
I'll bite; I feel they should, because as mentioned by I think you even, the institution of marriage is a silly one and civil unions should be granted to any consulting adults who want one.

My own squishness of sibling sex aside, it's well and truly none of my business what people do with their lives so long as they aren't negatively affecting others. If Churches or synagogues don't want to marry two siblings, all the more power to those religious institutions, but I see no reason why two consenting adults shouldn't be granted the same legal benefits available to everyone.


I agree, though I would certainly consider certain kinds of incestuous relationships as probable cause to investigate the possibility of abuse.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:25 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Does government have the right to ban incest? If it's because of health issues, does the government also have the right to ban sex between people with other genetic issues (eg, Tay Sachs carriers)?


Right, no. Ability, yes. It isn't that insane to have genetic screening to prevent extremely bad health outcomes.

That said, if your problem is with the offspring and not the sex, it would seem slightly off to ban sex. I suspect that the real issue is with the sex after all. Most of us instinctively react with an "ew" to the mention of incest. That said...the US practices fairly extreme exogamy, and what we see as uncomfortably close relations(cousins, etc) getting married might be seen as normal elsewhere.

From a logical POV, one would need to do significant minimization on such laws to minimize possible infringement on freedom.

That said, on a cynical level, one typically does not pay taxes when ones spouse dies, because, generally, that'd be messed up. If one could marry literally anyone and the same expectation held true, it could create a way for inheritences to skip taxation. Just a random thought.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby leady » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:02 pm UTC

The last article I saw in New Scientist was a study on just how destructive inbreeding is on populations - its not pretty and the natural aversion and the social aversion is there for very good reason.

If I'm paying for public health, then I see no reason to not ban the evil people that spit out 4 kids with the same regressive DNA problem (those stories horrify me)

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:14 pm UTC

leady wrote:The last article I saw in New Scientist was a study on just how destructive inbreeding is on populations - its not pretty and the natural aversion and the social aversion is there for very good reason.

If I'm paying for public health, then I see no reason to not ban the evil people that spit out 4 kids with the same regressive DNA problem (those stories horrify me)


Public health being paid for or not, there is such a thing as intentionally victimizing children. Pretty much all political philosophies are against that.

This *may* run up against extremely pro-child religious folks and what not. Meh. If you want to have children, great, but that's a responsibility, not just a right without limit.

That said, we may one day be able to flatten many of these biological issues.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby leady » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:20 pm UTC

I think its one of those consequences of British cradle to grave state cover. People really do have against medical advice, child after child with the same horrendous genetic condition and get paid and get support for it. I think thats crazy, hell I think most socialists would think thats crazy. Once is an accident, after that get in vitro

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:50 pm UTC

Personally, I am totally in support of redefining marriage to be a sort of modern-day "clan", size unlimited, as long as all members consent to the inclusion of all other members, and there is no duress involved. I'd be okay with siblings or cousins "marrying" in this setup, and it should basically amount to a formalized sharing of resources, heritance, and attorney rights.

I think it should be totally, absolutely divorced from any relation to love, sex, or children, as far as the law is concerned. Citizens should be free to restrain their treatment of the marriage to their own religious views, and it should be optional (but not default) to have sexual or emotional fidelity as a requirement to the continuance of the marriage, but "cheating" should only be defined as fault if the marriage was constructed with that definition.

Parenthood and parents rights should be redefined to focus on the child's welfare -- genetic parents have no inherent right to the child if they prove to be negligent or abusive, but this would also mean that they have no responsibilities toward the child if they have it taken away. In order for this to work, though, procreation would probably have to be limited to those who have defined a committed parent in advance, whether that be the genetic parents or other person(s). There should be no limit on who can be a parent so long as they are a consenting adult, and it is good for the child's welfare -- a village could be the parents, basically, although if studies find that arrangement to have a high risk, they could be required to undergo probation or licensing of some sort.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Immanuel » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:38 pm UTC

Where to start...

I think that part of the controversy about attempting to "define" marriage is precisely that marriage is just a name, a label given to a social contract - albeit a label with a very specific history. Recently I've been considering if we shouldn't allow more than one such contracts in place at the same time, as long as all are formulated in a fair way.

Until not too long ago, the majority of people understood the importance of linking a stable sexual relationship with procreation pretty much everywhere in the world; by giving economic incentives the government enters a contract with that party - there should be some return on that. The original reasons were that the parents would raise their children to be good citizens which is necessary to the continuance of the nation. More recently, it would seem that - at least in the Western world - people began to consider mutual commitment over rearing children as the defining factor of a relationship. I think that we need to reexamine the whole marriage thing and governments interest in it.

gmalivuk's argument for these incentives is as follows:

gmalivuk wrote:If people want to commit their lives together and share burdens and responsibilities until one of them dies, they ought to be able to do that. And there ought to be some benefits to doing so, because it's good for society if people can sometimes be each others' safety net, so things like hospital visitation and a streamlined citizenship process seem reasonable there.


And I'm fine with that, as long as it's applies equally to any number of people that meet the same conditions; but certainly "being each other's safety net" while valuable does not compare to the fundamental contribution of new citizens.
The entity and value of such benefits would be subject to whatever process of lawmaking is in place.

He also argues that since people can have children anytime with anyone, there is no need for a social contract oriented toward procreation; but this is a weak argument, because it is reasonable to have incentives in place in order to favor stability, fidelity and demanding parenting duties toward the children, regardless of how many people choose not to take advantage of them.

In the end, not only a significant amount of people is willing to enter a social contract _based_ on procreation, assuming on themselves greater responsibilities and limitations to one's freedom, there is also the fact that such a union has a purpose rooted in the needs of society, that goes beyond romantic liason and mutual commitment.
I believe there should be more choice in the degree of commitment one wants in their relationship; stretching the definition as to include as many people as possible decreases the importance of the lowest common denominator and ultimately devalues it, hence perhaps we need more than one type of social contract available - the name is not that important.
As I wrote before I am not opposed to arbitrarily defined, state-approved romantic unions. But if we are going to get to keep only one such contract, if this change is not additive but is aimed to replace the preexisting one, I will always favor the one closer to the biological and purposeful nature of traditional marriage, and I will do everything in my power - activism, donations, you name it - to keep it that way.

Thesh wrote:In the interest of simple and accommodating database design, marriage should be a many to many relationship. Have three tables, People, Marriages, and MarriageMembers. People has a primary key PersonID, Marriages has a primary key MarriageID, and MarriageMembers has a primary key on PersonID, MarriageID. A person can be a member of any number of marriages, and a marriage can contain any number of people.


As a software developer I applaud your design skills. Marriage should be scalable!

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Isaac Hill » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:15 am UTC

If marriage is to be based on procreation, when should a marriage be dissolved?

For example, my parents are celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary this week. Dad had a vasectomy and Mom's been through menopause, so no more children are forthcoming. I'm their only child and, at 36 with my own home, career, and life in another state, it's pretty safe to say they're done procreating me. If marriage is based on procreation, they have no reason to be married anymore, and probably haven't for over a decade.
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby krogoth » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:23 am UTC

Stretching the definition as to include as many people as possible decreases the importance of the lowest common denominator and ultimately devalues it...the name is not that important.


People began to consider mutual commitment over rearing children as the defining factor of a relationship.


I think that we need to reexamine the whole marriage thing and governments interest in it.


Basically, re-define Marriage such that, Religious Marriage is a subset. Done

Now Religious Marriage can have subsets itself, as in Christian ect.

Your religion can have it's own set of marriages with extra rules but is a sub or alternative to gov marriage that has it's rules, and as above can be any two or more people that want to join in whatever type of contract that is.

I personally equate marriage to civil union. I always thought of it as just non-religious. Can male/female couples have a civil union?
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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:47 am UTC

Whizbang wrote: The Catholic Church is known for wanting couples to have children, and have them often, but if a couple is incapable of having children, they don't deny them the right to get married in the church. So why the problem with gays? Especially if a gay couple adopts children and raises them as Catholic, what's the problem?


Speaking strictly in a "how I think the Church would respond based on what I know" capacity:

Catholic marriages aren't strictly focused on child-bearing alone, but it's considered a major aspect. And a defining aspect.

Childless marriage is in fact grounds for an annulment. The Church doesn't believe in dissolving marriages under most circumstances but if, after marriage, one of the spouses wants a child but the other spouse either cannot or will not consent to having one, that's grounds to declare marriage invalid.

One does not have to have a child, but one has the right to expect having one if they do.

Granted, I'm not sure of the specific details: for instance, people who marry after childbearing age, or people who agree to not have kids going into the matter but change their minds afterwards, or marriage to someone you know is infertile beforehand.

I guess one difference between gay couples marrying and straight couples marrying, the Church would say, is that straight couples as a general group have the capacity to bear children, while as a group gay couples do not (well, with scientific advances... but I think those are opposed on moral grounds).

And then faith comes into it. The whole "Abraham's wife Sarah was infertile her whole life and had a child at age 90" thing pretty much casts a lot of doubt on absolute infertility.

In any case, there's probably a lot of dogma about "natural" and "unnatural" unions I'm forgetting... it's all out there somewhere, even if some of it doesn't necessarily make sense.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:48 am UTC

Legal contract between any 2 or more consenting adults who can then receive a multitude of benefits from the state. Purpose is to grant societal recognition for the relationship and to protect any member from financial hardship as a result of divorce.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby Immanuel » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:04 am UTC

krogoth wrote:Basically, re-define Marriage such that, Religious Marriage is a subset. Done

Now Religious Marriage can have subsets itself, as in Christian ect.

Your religion can have it's own set of marriages with extra rules but is a sub or alternative to gov marriage that has it's rules, and as above can be any two or more people that want to join in whatever type of contract that is.

I personally equate marriage to civil union. I always thought of it as just non-religious. Can male/female couples have a civil union?


Perfect, that would make most people happy and shouldn't be too hard to achieve.

But I don't think that that subset should be called "religious", simply because there are plenty of non-religious people wanting a children-oriented one.
My wife is chinese and atheist/agnostic, when we wed in China the ceremony wasn't religious but it still involved having a child sleep in our bed the night before we did as to "wish the couple to have children soon". I really don't understand how certain people can claim that civil marriage doesn't/shouldn't have reference to procreation.

Of course male/female couples could decide to have a non-child-oriented social contract. Oddly enough, when Britain introduced Civil Partnerships as a (failed) attempt to implement such system, it was only permitted between couples of the same sex.

Isaac Hill wrote:If marriage is to be based on procreation, when should a marriage be dissolved?


If they had children or they tried when they could it should be ok. Fertility is not always a binary value, and for men infertility is defined also as having few enough spermatozoons as to make the chance of conception stastistically unlikely, even if still possible.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:26 am UTC

I personally equate marriage to civil union. I always thought of it as just non-religious.


There is real harm in having a different name even if the legal privileges are the same. There will always be the stigma that a civil union is something that is lesser than a real marriage. Why else have a different name if not to force the difference into the faces of everyone who cannot get married but only civil unioned? We haven't been brought up to value civil unions, we have been brought up to value marriage.

There is real harm in the distinction. There are a bunch of studies that effectively say this.

I don't care which one society settles on but it needs to either be The Marriage Act, or The Civil Union Act. No mixing and matching based on sexual orientation.

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Re: Definition of Marriage

Postby leady » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:15 pm UTC

If you are going to rely on a social consequences argument for marriage, I would suggest that any vaguely competant counter arguer will highlight that strengthens the idea for discriminatory "nuclear family" marriage far more than weakens it.

I know people like to challenge it to hilt despite the mountains of evidence, but actively & considerably subsidising old school marriage solves a staggering array of social issues from crime, poverty, hell even climate change even by moving the dial slighty towards stable relationships. I'd further suggest that these effects would dwarf the effects of the sociological change of term consistancy across all communities.

But I think the idea of the state forcing is largely out of favour now I think


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