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Gay and Happy Marriage

August 7, 2010

So California’s Prop 8 was justifiably ruled as unconstitutional, but we won’t be hearing the end of it until the case reaches the Supreme Court probably.  In the mean time, instead of discussing all the stupidity of whether marriage is intended for procreation (it’s not) or if marriage would be tainted by gays marrying (it wouldn’t) or any of the other complaints that the squeemish, bigoted, or traditionalists have against two people of the same sex getting hitched, I have a much more pressing question – why does the United States government regulate marriages?  The legality of gay marriage depends on the legality of any marriage at all, and I’m unsure how marriage became a legal matter if marriage is essentially a religious matter.  If marriage is wholly a religious binding, then the state should not have anything to do with it.  Making any ruling on the legality of any kind of marriage, het or homo, would be crossing the boundary of the separation of church and state.  If, however, the marriage with which the state is concerned is not religious, but simply a legal matter for taxes and perhaps the census, then there should be no discrimination over what kinds of people are allowed to get married.  There should be an open floodgate for state marriage certificates, with the religious aspects of marriage being left to the churches and synagogues and mosques and Jedi temples.  Two people could then be married according to the state without any need of approval from a church, or could be church-married and choose not to have a state marriage certificate.  Perhaps then the state should change the name of their state marriages to something like “Civil Union” so as not to confuse the so-easily confused polity, but if they did then it would need to be a sexual-orientation wide switch.  Civil union would then be the blanket government term, so that might upset some hets.  Doing anything else would be tantamount to admitting that the separation of church and state wasn’t functioning in the case of marriage, though, so as I see it the options are civil unions or nothing.

Of course, state-sanctioned marriage does open the can of worms of whether people could marry animals, or children, or objects, or if multiple people could marry each other.  We could just avoid all this insanity by simply not having state-run marriages, but if we must then we’d have to create new laws about civil unions being allowed only if they’re beneficial to the state.  One adult marrying another adult is beneficial because it allows for dopey tax changes, opens up the space for another house because two people now inhabit one, lessens the strain on polity-wide utilities by having the two cohabit, is not harmful to either party in its intent, and allows for the possibility of raising a new productive member of the polity.  Adult marrying animal, child, or object doesn’t fulfill all of those requirements, so I don’t think they should be allowed.  The case for polygamy not being harmful to any of those involved is tough to prove, but it could also be hard to disprove.  Islamic law allows for polygamy as long as a husband loves his wives equally (I don’t think it says anything about a wife having multiple husbands).  So perhaps we could allow polygamy if it could be proved that there wasn’t any harm being done to anyone involved, but then there’d have to be a government agency responsible for investigating if the polygamists were part of a crazy cult or not.  We probably should not allow polygamy, but maybe it’ll be cool in the future.  Who knows.

So, either civil unions for everyone or marriage for no one.  How’s that for a compromise?

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