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The Separation of Church Marriage and State Marriage
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, November 26, 2007

This Stephanie Coontz piece in the New York Times makes a lot of sense. Coontz points out that people didn't "need the state’s permission to marry" for many centuries, because "marriage was a private contract between two families", and that the legal relationship that is now called "traditional marriage" is somewhat recent, far from traditional and increasingly used by government "as a way of distributing resources to dependents".

So - from libertarian, conservative and religious perspectives - this is very compelling.
Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep — who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.

Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples — gay or straight — decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.
I've made this argument in the past. The religious conception of "marriage" is very different from the legal conception of "marriage". The distinction should be maintained and promoted by people on both sides of the gay marriage debate.

 
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I agree with you, but being a realist we have to deal with matters as they exist right now. I’d be happy with a civil union and leave the rest till later.
 
Written By: John
URL: http://averagegayjoe.blogspot.com
Nonsense. In every sense of the word.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
totally agree, this has been my thinking all along. Give marriage back to the church. Even if i am married i should be able to have a same sex friend be able to take care of whatever parts of my life i wish. Or if i decide to never marry, why cant i give my best friend the rights to decide my fate in the hospital? I think this makes more sense overall.
 
Written By: josh b
URL: http://
In an ideal world, marriage would never have been the word for the state contract, and everyone would get a civil union in addition to marriage. The problem is that this isn’t the world we live in. Words have power, and there really isn’t any way that we can bestow the word "marriage" upon same-sex couples and not have it affect the religious side of the word as well.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
I agree. Government has no business in marriage whatsoever, being a religious institution. Simple solution is to change the ’marriage license’ to a ’civil union’ for everyone and be done with it. If you want the ceremonial title, then go to whatever church will have you and Godspeed.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Marriage may have contract like implications for two families, but it was hardly ever private.

It seems to me most if not all cultures always made the ceremony public and included a high ranking member of society to officiate. That could be a priest, judge, ship’s captain, or witch doctor.

It’s always required the blessing of the community. And when marriage is reduced to a rubberstamp completely, it losses its value.

I’d suggest this is the reason for lowering marriage rates in the more progressive European countries. When there is no standard required for a marriage, it is meaningless and why bother.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I’d also add the origins of marriage are neither purely religious nor legal but cultural. It is based off of procreation and creating a socially sanctioned non-interference zone around the new family.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
...except where it’s used for monetary gains or to solidify power, whether between merchants, guilds, rich families, nobles, kings, etc.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
If you will get "marriage status" out of all tax law, inheritance law, criminal law, and government benefits/penalties, the issue will die. We have encouraged marriage for the wrong purposes from exclusions for the Death Tax, to requiring offering "spousal coverage" in benefits. Or Social Insecurity spousal benefits.

If those moroons in Washington and the state capitals would just wipe the slates clean of the laws on the books that make marriage attractive, then get out of the business of licensing it, those that find or want some sort of fulfillment in marriage could simply be married by someone or by themselves. Go jump over a broom.

Social Security is broke. But we may see the results sooner if we create more "entitled recipients". Chuck & Larry in the Senior Center!!!
 
Written By: RRRoark
URL: http://soslis.blogspot.com
I think the state should have no say in marriage. If you want to get married then go to a church and get married.

If you want to have some arrangements made outside of marriage then that is up to you.
 
Written By: tkc
URL: http://
When there is no standard required for a marriage, it is meaningless and why bother.
Same sex couples would no doubt tell you that they wish to be included in this standard, thereby giving their union more “meaning”. Because as you stated,
It’s always required the blessing of the community.
And to address that, this required blessing is not so much true anymore.
Maybe back in the times where your very survival meant an approving coexistence with your immediate community this was true, but those days are long gone and not likely to return.

My neighbors have no idea who my wife and I are. They have no idea if we are married or not. And since we haven’t been asked, I’m sure they don’t care either. My wife’s employers don’t care. My customers surely don’t care.
The tax collectors are the only people seemingly concerning themselves to our marital status.

Maybe the insurance companies do. I wouldn’t know, my ball and chain handles that paperwork.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Jon, I would argue with you that the gay marriage proponents are uninterested in this primarily because their ultimate aim is to force gay marriage on the churches, and if a church refuses, to have them decertified as a legitimate and recognized religion by the state.
 
Written By: The Gonzman
URL: http://
The whole "gay marriage" debate has the ring of the South Park episode with the outbreak of "SMUG", the result of people who buy hybrid cars to make a social statement (and by the way it might be good for the environment but that not really important).

"gay marriage" also has a certain level of "SUMG" ..

For many, it’s not about love or commitment, but rather about making a "SMUG" statement.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
"Jon, I would argue with you that the gay marriage proponents are uninterested in this primarily because their ultimate aim is to force gay marriage on the churches, and if a church refuses, to have them decertified as a legitimate and recognized religion by the state."

I suspect this applies to the activists more than the public. Lileks talking on the woman who chose not to have a baby to prevent global warming seems relevant:

"I’ve said this before: there’s a process with certain steps. Tolerance is required. Then acceptance, which must lead to endorsement, lest people feel marginalized – often by the very people they cant stand, mind you. Endorsement is followed by recognition of the new standard as equal to the old, because all ideas are valid (although some ideas are more valid than others, a judgment that’s determined by the newness of the idea versus the reactionary elements who subscribed to the old idea.) Rhen the new standard must be subsidized, because it is discriminatory not to extend the usual state advantages; then it must be recognized as having superior aspects, in order to empower the marginalized people who believe it. Eventually these advantages will be used as evidence to suggest it’s superior to the old idea in some way that appeals to the intellectual fashion of the day. The process usually takes about 25 years."

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
And here I thought that The Gonzman was just joking.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
C.S. Lewis wrote an article that made this exact same point. It should be something churches keep in mind, especially if they lose a fight or two. (whether pro or anti gay marriage)

I think a lot of this:
But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep - who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.
Should be opened up so you can fill out a form and all of that goes to whomever you want. Your parent, spouse, grandchild, best friend, random stranger, etc.
 
Written By: Challenger Grim
URL: http://

 
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