Interesting Points about "Getting the Government Out of Marriage"

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I've been told that the government should change what it does from "issuing marriage licenses" to "issuing civil unions." A civil union would (in this hypothetical) grant all the legal rights that a marriage currently grants. That would get government out of marriage without changing the essence of what it does. It would help separate church and state. The marriage a church could offer would have no legal benefits; presumably most people would get both a marriage and a civil union.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.
 

JessicaBurde

New member
For monogamous couples it could be a workable solution, and I believe it is handled that way in some countries. For poly marriages...well, the government would no longer be able to go after people who had religious/private/spiritual non-monogamous marriages of varying sorts, but it would still leave the problem of how do poly folk gain legal access to rights only granted by marriage?
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Would it work to let each one person to get as many civil unions as they wanted?
 

JessicaBurde

New member
I don't know. Some of the rights that marriage gives are pretty easy to extend to multiple spouses--such as the ability to immigrate to the US if you've married a US citizen. Others, like employer-sponsored insurance coverage would be a hassle, but I can think of ways to make it work. I have no idea how multiple marriage would impact the way marriage establishes a legal-next-of-kin for legal, financial and medical purposes. And there are, what, 1,000 other rights associated with marriage? Some of them will scale as easily as immigration rights. Some of them...won't.
 

RichardInTN

Member
I don't know. Some of the rights that marriage gives are pretty easy to extend to multiple spouses--such as the ability to immigrate to the US if you've married a US citizen. Others, like employer-sponsored insurance coverage would be a hassle, but I can think of ways to make it work. I have no idea how multiple marriage would impact the way marriage establishes a legal-next-of-kin for legal, financial and medical purposes. And there are, what, 1,000 other rights associated with marriage? Some of them will scale as easily as immigration rights. Some of them...won't.

I disagree. All of them can "Scale" to multiple spouses. In many cases that "scaling" is just the the benefit would be split by the spouses.

In the cases of things like insurance plans, where the employee can add family members, "spouse" and "children" would be converted to plain and simple "dependents" ... and then dealt with accordingly as just extra dependents. So instead of "1 spouse and 3 kids" a person might have "4 dependents" (those dependents being 2 spouses and two kids), or whatever they have.

This theory that it would be so hard to do is completely fabricated by people that oppose poly.

For the record there are upwards of 1,400 legal rights that instantly are conferred with the filing of the "Certificate/License of Marriage". some states have more and some have less but ALL have above 1,400... because most of those are FEDERAL, and where they are STATE, they are in every State.
 

JessicaBurde

New member
I never said it would be hard to make these rights accessible. I said that simply creating two separate institutions, civil unions (granting federal and state rights) and marriage (private/religious matter) wouldn't address the issues created by poly marriage.

How does next-of-kin scale? Are all of your spice legal next-of-kin and you get legal/medical/financial decisions by committee? That sounds like a recipe for a couple thousand Terry Shiavos.

Or how about the "right" that a woman's husband automatically has legal paternity of her children (granted in at least three states). How does this scale?

I'm not saying these rights couldn't be addressed. Simple solution to paternity: do away with automatic paternity, or start giving legal recognition to more than two parents (some states are already moving on this.) But there would still need to be a great deal of legislation and bureaucratic revision to make many marriage rights accessible in poly marriage. You own comment on insurance is an example of this. While it is a simple fix, insurance regulations would still need to be re-written in order for it to happen.

These are issues that will need to be addressed no matter what form marriage takes, if poly marriages are going to have legal equality with monogamous marriages. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be hard or easy? My experience with the legal system leads me to think it will be harder than you think, but I'm not an expert, and my experiences have definitely biased me. Will it be as simple as the supreme court striking down the anti-bigamy laws (which I sincerely hope they will do some day) or ordering legal and religious marriages to be separate matters? No.
 

InsaneMystic

New member
Furthermore, true privatization would require more than just getting the government out of the marriage licensing and registration business. It would mean giving communities the authority to write their own marriage rules and enforce them on couples. This would mean letting Mormon marriages be governed by the Church of the Latter Day Saints codebook, Muslims by Koranic sharia, Hassids by the Old Testament, and gays by their own church or non-religious equivalent. Inter-faith couples could choose one of their communities — but only if it allowed interfaith marriages. But here's what they couldn't get: a civil marriage performed by a Justice of the Peace. Why? Because that option would have to be nixed when state and marriage are completely separated.

This would mean that couples would be subjected to community norms, many of them regressive, without any exit option. For example, a Muslim man could divorce his Muslim wife by saying "divorce" three times as per sharia's requirement and leave her high-and-dry with minimal financial support (this actually happens in India and elsewhere). Obviously, that would hardly be an advance for marriage equality.
And she's saying all this as if it were a bad thing. Completely bizarre.

I call bullshit on the article. It's perfectly possible to have legal ramifications set for family unit contracts without the state calling them marriage, without the state defining marriage, and without the state recognizing marriage.

This would give more, not less, power to the people. All the talk about religious communities up there is nothing but a big fat strawman of someone too scared, lazy, and conservative to try going for a real, substantial change to achieve both freedom and equal rights for all, in one bold stroke.


To sum the article up...
"Oh boy, freedom is such a hassle, innit? All the paperwork, ain't noone got time for that! But giving religions a right to decide anything for their communities would be really really bad, because, uh, erm, no freedom....? Or something? Right guys?"
:rolleyes:


I'm not saying these rights couldn't be addressed. Simple solution to paternity: do away with automatic paternity, or start giving legal recognition to more than two parents (some states are already moving on this.) But there would still need to be a great deal of legislation and bureaucratic revision to make many marriage rights accessible in poly marriage. You own comment on insurance is an example of this. While it is a simple fix, insurance regulations would still need to be re-written in order for it to happen.

These are issues that will need to be addressed no matter what form marriage takes, if poly marriages are going to have legal equality with monogamous marriages. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be hard or easy? My experience with the legal system leads me to think it will be harder than you think, but I'm not an expert, and my experiences have definitely biased me. Will it be as simple as the supreme court striking down the anti-bigamy laws (which I sincerely hope they will do some day) or ordering legal and religious marriages to be separate matters? No.
"It won't be easy" should never be a reason to avoid reform. Legislators are paid more than handsomely for their jobs - let them earn that cash with doing actual, neccessary work to instate a wonderful reform.
 
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PinkPig

Well-known member
I'd agree that many of the benefits of marriage could be easily conferred to multiple spouses (including insurance, hospital visitation rights, etc.) The parts that would be more difficult imo, are the financial and property rights. Adding an additional spouse would automatically dilute the financial/property rights of the existing spouses. This may/may not be palatable to spouses but would be certainly be a possible source of contention between spouses. Especially in the cases of previous monogamous marriages that have evolved into a poly-mono arrangement.
 

Bluebird

Well-known member
Adding an additional spouse would automatically dilute the financial/property rights of the existing spouses.

You could say the same thing about adding more children.
 

PinkPig

Well-known member

"It won't be easy" should never be a reason to avoid reform. Legislators are paid more than handsomely for their jobs - let them earn that cash with doing actual, neccessary work to instate a wonderful reform.


Agreed; however, given the government's track record of compromising... not so likely. Just look at the debacle that is health care reform. One major problem is no one seems willing to scrap the existing and start fresh...they just want to modify the existing legal framework no matter how outdated and broken it is.

If you strip the legal rights out of marriage and instead allow individuals to enter tailor-made contracts with their partner(s), then what would it matter if a muslim could divorce his wife simply by saying "I divorce you" three times? Let him divorce her! It doesn't absolve his contractual duty to her. That would need to be terminated according to contract law. The easiest thing would be to require termination clauses in the contracts. If the termination clause is properly constructed, it could eliminate much of the bickering over finances/property that occurs in divorces.

Without marriage, every aspect of a couple's relationship would have to be contractually worked out from scratch in advance. This may — or may not — prove to be an onerous inconvenience (some people speculate that companies would start marketing canned contracts to couples)

I don't see this as a bad thing. This way couples have the ability to choose exactly what rights they want to confer to their spouses. I also don't see the 'canned products' as an issue. Modifiable 'canned products' would make entering the contract easier for those who don't have the desire, need, or circumstances to require drafting an original contract.

Existing marriages could have the option of grandfathering under current law, or opting into the new law.

Not as difficult as they'd like us to believe. What IS difficult is changing public opinion. We humans are generally resistant to change...especially major change.
 

JessicaBurde

New member
"It won't be easy" should never be a reason to avoid reform. Legislators are paid more than handsomely for their jobs - let them earn that cash with doing actual, neccessary work to instate a wonderful reform.

One more time, with feeling: I was responding to ktd26417's comment

I've been told that the government should change what it does from "issuing marriage licenses" to "issuing civil unions." A civil union would (in this hypothetical) grant all the legal rights that a marriage currently grants. That would get government out of marriage without changing the essence of what it does. It would help separate church and state. The marriage a church could offer would have no legal benefits; presumably most people would get both a marriage and a civil union.

I have not said anything about whether it could be done, should be done, etc. I have been attempting to address whether or not having separate "civil unions" and "marriages" would "help," and saying that I don't think it would because these issues would still exist for poly folk.

For the record, I do believe that eventually some legal solution to poly marriage needs to be found. Anything else is continuing an inequilty and allowing a morality to dictate our legal system. I have no frigging clue what the best way to do this will be. Any approach will be very difficult, but like health care reform, will be worth doing.

All of which, again, has nothing to do with my prior comments.
 

JessicaBurde

New member
True to an extent. Children don't have the same financial rights as spouses though.

True--but spouses don't have the same financial rights everywhere, anyway. Some states in the US are "joint property" states, some aren't. While I'm not familiar with property law in the rest of the world, I expect there is quite a bit of variety out there.

Multiple spouses in a non-joint property state won't really effect financial stuff. It's joint if you designate it joint. It belongs solely to one person otherwise. I live in a joint property state now. If I married two people, then we would all share jointly in major purchases, automatically assuming eachothers property and debts if anything happens. Change the law, remove the joint property assumption, and there is no dilution of rights, b/c the only rights my spice have to my property is whatever rights I specifically give them, and vis versa.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
I think poly marriage (and poly civil unions) would be complicated to set up -- but I'm no expert, so.
 

RichardInTN

Member
I never said it would be hard to make these rights accessible. I said that simply creating two separate institutions, civil unions (granting federal and state rights) and marriage (private/religious matter) wouldn't address the issues created by poly marriage.

How does next-of-kin scale? Are all of your spice legal next-of-kin and you get legal/medical/financial decisions by committee? That sounds like a recipe for a couple thousand Terry Shiavos.

Or how about the "right" that a woman's husband automatically has legal paternity of her children (granted in at least three states). How does this scale?

I'm not saying these rights couldn't be addressed. Simple solution to paternity: do away with automatic paternity, or start giving legal recognition to more than two parents (some states are already moving on this.) But there would still need to be a great deal of legislation and bureaucratic revision to make many marriage rights accessible in poly marriage. You own comment on insurance is an example of this. While it is a simple fix, insurance regulations would still need to be re-written in order for it to happen.

These are issues that will need to be addressed no matter what form marriage takes, if poly marriages are going to have legal equality with monogamous marriages. Can it be done? Yes. Will it be hard or easy? My experience with the legal system leads me to think it will be harder than you think, but I'm not an expert, and my experiences have definitely biased me. Will it be as simple as the supreme court striking down the anti-bigamy laws (which I sincerely hope they will do some day) or ordering legal and religious marriages to be separate matters? No.

Next of kin "scales" the same way it does with no spouse and only multiple kids.

The automatic "right" a father has over his bio kids would remain as it is... but based on the bio tie to them not the marriage-to-the-mother tie.
 

RichardInTN

Member
True to an extent. Children don't have the same financial rights as spouses though.

They do if it's an inheritance of a parent without a spouse... so the comparison fits.
 

PinkPig

Well-known member
They do if it's an inheritance of a parent without a spouse... so the comparison fits.

That's inheritance law which is only one piece of the financial puzzle. Children have no rights to their parents assets while the parent is alive (aside from financial support to a certain age...19 in my state.) Not the case with spouses. And, in the case of inheritance rights, parents can designate beneficiaries other than their children, without their consent, for retirement plans. Or, create wills excluding their children from any inheritance, without their consent. So not really the same.
 

Bluebird

Well-known member
Yes, but there's at least something to look at when setting up a structure. I have three adopted children - 2 from a previous marriage. When DarkKnight and I adopted the third, we had several discussions on how this would necessitate my life insurance to pay out differently, if he and I were to pass at the same time.

When I fake-married PunkRock, all of us discussed what we wanted for my existing children, what we wanted for each other and how inheritance would have to change to include him. There wasn't any contention, but if there had been, we probably would have postponed the wedding until we worked it out. I don't see this as any different really, than someone requiring a prenuptial agreement in the monogamous world. You talk it through, and if people can't agree, then you're not going to work. If you have 20 spouses to divide up your assets between, then you need to make sure you have the paperwork in place to do that.

Of course there will be those people who are irresponsible and make no provisions - they exist even now. If you decide you want to marry someone with 19 other existing spouses and don't ask the financial questions you need to do ahead of time, well, then you'll be stuck. 1/20th of a $5,000 policy won't get you too far.

To stave off potential contention in the hospital - I gave PunkRock medical power of attorney and he's my health care proxy. He has the right to decide things - not DarkKnight. In the future, maybe that would be part of the marriage contract - it would spell out which existing spouse gets the final say.
 
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YouAreHere

Well-known member
Negative Nancy here:
Add joint property to the mix, and now you have an even bigger mess on your hands.

If I'm the primary breadwinner and my spouse marries someone else, then is our income / joint bank account now a shared asset with my spouse's spouse, even if *I'm* not in a marriage / CU with them? If they divorce, is that person entitled to a portion of *our* assets?

It would all need to be part of contract law, but now you're making something that's automatic in many states a multi-page contractual *and* accounting issue. Nobody wants to make their lives more complicated in order to benefit a smaller group. Especially when public opinion doesn't favor that group right now.

Heck, every time a flat tax has been brought up, the person advocating it has been shot down, and that's a simplification for everyone!

So sure, get rid of "joint property" policies. Except, it's on a state-by-state basis, and we know how well states love the Federal government intruding on their turf.

Oy.
 
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