Saturday, September 6, 2008

Abolish State Sanctioned Marriage

With the nomination of Sarah Palin as VP by the Republican Party, and the upcoming vote on an anti-gay marriage proposition in California the question of gay marriage has once again come to the fore. Everyone from Obama to McCain seems to have a problem with gay marriage except for the people most directly involved who, of course, are firm advocates thereof.

There is a way, however, to resolve the issue once and for all, abolish marriage as a state sanctioned institution. Marriage as presently constituted is a contractual agreement between two parties. Until recently these parties have been restricted to one male and one female. But why should this be the case? Under most circumstances a contract, whereby the rights and obligations of the signatories are delineated, should be universally applicable. Why not then establish civil unions as the contractual agreement by which the rights and obligations of two parties who enter into a relationship of cohabitation are codified? In this fashion everyone is treated equally. Once a couple enters into a civil union, which would convey the rights and obligations presently given to married people, they could then have that union sanctified by whatever religious or secular ceremony they wish. The status of marriage would thus no longer to certified by the state but would be something that would be bestowed upon the couple by whatever institution is willing to sanctify it. Thus the Catholic Church could grant or deny a certificate of marriage to whomever they want. The couple nevertheless would have a legally constituted civil union with the same rights and privileges as any other. To be married by the church or any other institution would require the legal standing of having entered into a civil union but having done so would not obligate the body that sanctifies the relationship to concur. Marriage would henceforth not be a legally recognized institution and the controversy would cease to exist, other than within the ranks of whatever group by which the couple wishes to be sanctified.

PS: I'm apparently not the only one to put forth this argument. For instance, see Michael Kinsley at Slate.

No comments: