I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gay Rights

Ooookay. I'm feeling controversial, so it's can-o-worms time.

I'm not particularly well versed in all the legal ins and outs of this issue, so if I misspoke at any point here, my apologies, and please, PLEASE correct me. I don't want to labor under false assumptions.

People have a tendency to talk about the right to marry. Yet, when asked to define marriage, they generally have no idea. Occasionally, I'll get an answer concerning hospital visitation, power of attorney, and inheritance type stuff, but more often I get answers concerning love, choosing who you're going to be with, and symbolism.

To that, I just have to ask why you would need the government to validate the relationship? If you know what the other person means to you, and vice versa, why does it matter if the government says yea or nay? Whatever you as individuals choose to do behind closed doors is no business of me or the government.

There are also answers concerning social acceptability of the relationship, in that 'marriage' legitimizes the relationship. My response to that is twofold. First off, who cares if it's socially approved? It's your life and your love. No one else's business. Second, you can't legislate social change. It happens on it's own, or not at all. The mind will always do its own thing.

Now, there are some technical aspects of the institution of marriage in this country that are somewhat different, mostly dealing with money, power of attorney, and custody. As far as I know though, there are ways of getting all those benefits through channels other than marriage. Contracts can be written up for property issues, power of attorney can be given outside of marriage, and custody is a messy issue all on its own. (Also an issue that is of somewhat less impact in a same-sex marriage, due to that whole biology thing.) There are certain non-legal conventions concerning marriage in this country, such as health insurance providence from employers, but most of those seem to be reflective of social issues rather than things the legislature should be involved in.

The astute reader will have noticed that apart from custody issues, none of this is specific to same-sex marriage. All of these arguments apply equally well to traditional marriage. My response to that is twofold.

First off, marriage as an institution has really hazy definitions, but classically, the one common element to the different definitions is that it is an institution between a man and a woman. Whether this is a good institution or not is not in question. Changing that fundamental definition would, well, fundamentally change the institution. Marriage is awesome and all, but the way to get that awesomeness into a same-sex relationship is not by changing the nature of marriage.

Secondly, I ask why government is involved in marriage at all? Why do people need the fed to tell them that they are married? If you want to get the legal benefits (such as they are) write a contract. If you want the spiritual side of it, get married in a church. If you want social acceptance, good luck, but don't look to the government. Marriage just doesn't make sense to me as a legal institution. In the pure rights based government we're supposed to have, there shouldn't be room for people to be treated differently under the law for any reason, including marriage status.

Yes, there are real issues to be dealt with on this, but they are reflective once again (in my mind) of the larger governmental problems that we're dealing with. It's just another place the government has spent too much time with it's nose in.

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