Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Marriage

For all those cranky, whiny conservatives who worry that things like "gay marriage" will undermine the "sanctity" of marriage, I'd like to say that it was lost LONG ago, when the State moved in on what was previously a strictly private, and then religious matter. Of course, most Conservatives today will argue that separate of church and State is a "false" doctrine. The State IS the Church, and marriage, being a sacrament before God, MUST be endorsed by the State. Any suggestion that the battle over what "marriage" is was lost the moment they ceded authority for this institution to the State is lost entirely upon them, as they lack the imagination to see what life is like without the presence of the State involved in every aspect of their lives.

Here is a fabulous article on marriage, which raises some core issues about marriage, the origins of State involvement, and its true purpose in modern times. Contrary to what social conservatives may assert, marriage is not a sacred institution deemed by society to be essential to its continuation, but rather, it has been made into a unique political status, created by politicians to control citizens by classifying them into various categories to be rewarded (and punished) according to the political dictates of the day. The argument over "gay marriage" is simply an argument over who shall be allowed to claim the goodies that come with this priveleged status and the special rights granted by it. Social conservatives are getting theirs, but object to a certain classification of individuals to receive the same. Social conservatives are, in essence, fighting to preserve their special priveleges, just as all priveleged groups do. Equality before the law is abhorrent to these types.

And many of us forget, the origins of marriage "licenses" were specifically racist in orgin:
By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos. Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.

In the mid-20th century, governments began to get out of the business of deciding which couples were “fit” to marry. Courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage, struck down other barriers and even extended marriage rights to prisoners.

But governments began relying on marriage licenses for a new purpose: as a way of distributing resources to dependents. The Social Security Act provided survivors’ benefits with proof of marriage. Employers used marital status to determine whether they would provide health insurance or pension benefits to employees’ dependents. Courts and hospitals required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information.

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