Gay Marriage - A Solution
By Steve Gillman
Obviously the issue of gay marriage is a divisive one. Should
it be legal or not? Here's a solution that may be considered
radical, but resolves a lot of arguments by making them irrelevant:
Get governments out of the marriage business altogether!
What is marriage? There are many definitions, and they are
changing fast now that it has become an important political issue.
Certainly some traditional definitions exclude gay marriage by
including the words "between a man and a woman." Other's
though, simply call it an, "an intimate or close union."
Here is Wikipedia's definition:
"Marriage is an interpersonal relationship with governmental,
social, or religious recognition, usually intimate and sexual,
and often created as a contract, or through civil process. Civil
marriage is the legal concept of marriage."
Notice that "marriage" is distinguished from "civil
marriage." That makes sense, doesn't it? Marriage existed
long before a governmental "license" was required.
(Incidentally, doesn't anyone else besides myself find it offensive
that we should need "permission" of a government to
be married?) Marriage started long ago with various ceremonies
that were mostly religious. The rituals involved are a way for
the union of two people to be recognized by the group (whether
religious or social) to which they belonged.
Why, then, does government have to be involved at all? It
doesn't! Why not just let people have whatever ceremonies they
want, call it whatever they want, and live how they want as long
as they are not hurting others?
No More "Legal" Marriage
Of course we would have to make some changes in the tax code.
But then why was there ever a penalty or reward for marriage
in the first place? If we are free individuals with equal rights,
governments never should have started treating us differently
according to our religious or other ceremonial agreements with
What about divorce? The law in this area might have to change
a few definitions, but the essential principles would be the
same. Already many courts recognize that two people who live
together without that piece of paper (the permission slip, or
marriage "license") need to fairly divide their assets
when they separate. Any two people who combine assets will possibly
need a civil court to assist in the division of them when separating.
And children? We have to stop worrying about what we call
family arrangements, and think about the good of the children
- period. Couples will always live together, and how they raise
their children is more important than whether they call their
union a marriage or whatever. When they separate, the courts
should simply arrange things for the children's benefit, as they
hopefully do now.
What about other marriage "benefits?" For things
like social security and life insurance, the simple answer is
to let individuals designate whoever they want as the beneficiary.
In any case, was it ever fair that a single man got only a partial
social security plan, while a married man gets potentially hundreds
of thousands of dollars additional money paid out to his spouse?
They did pay the same taxes, after all.
Let companies decide what kind of plans they want for health
insurance. Eventually they will see the market advantage of offering
insurance that allows the employee to designate who the other
beneficiaries are. Those who might choose to limit coverage to
certain religiously designated unions (remember, there will be
no more civil or "legal" marriage) will find it harder
to attract employees.
Once government is no longer defining marriage, and deciding
who has "permission" to marry, the issue of gay marriage
disappears. If two men or two women or a man and a woman want
to join their lives together in some ceremony, they can do so
in any church that will have them, or by any rituals or ceremonies
that they choose. And gay or not, they can call it marriage or
use any other word, because it is nobody's business but theirs.