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!