|Bloggage, rants, and occasional notes of despair|
Marriage has legal, religious, and social significance. In respect of its legal significance, I see no problem with replacing it with a purely legal and secular institution -- call it "domestic partnership". Naturally, such partnerships will be entered into by people who have no sexual or romantic relationship -- although the notion of "romantic love" has proven to be a particularly unsuitable one for basing a relationship on.
I don't see a problem with the state acting as the registrar of domestic partnerships, although it should be rebuttable that such a relationship does or does not exist because it has been registered or not registered by the state. Likewise, I don't see a problem with the state defining a default set of rights and responsibilities, to be modified ad libitum by the partners; people in the throes of infatuation are notoriously poor at thinking through the consequences of their actions, and it would be embarassing (at the very least) were they to try and terminate their partnership and find 99% of their relationship to be undefined.
Kenneth Burke feels that such a policy might not adequately protect any children produced by such a union. To the extent that the children of a failed partnership are to be provided for by the state, I think the state is entitled to examine the provisions (or lack of them) in the partnership agreement, and even to veto such a partnership if those provisions are fiund to be unsuitable. Naturally, the state's default provisions are, ipso facto, to be considered suitable, and the less deviation from these, the greater the burden on the state to prove that they have been modified in an unsuitable way. Indeed, I would not give a ministerial official veto power at all, although I would accept her forwarding such to the court, with the court's not acting within a certain period of time to connote acceptance of the terms. To the left, I would suggest that the state has no obligation (other than whatever right of acting in loco parentis it may be conceded to have) if the partnership is not registered by it, as it cannot be bound by terms that it does not know about.
As for the religious and social significance...well, there's really nothing the state can do about this, nor, IMNSHO, should it. Although there are doubtless radicals of the left and right who fantasize about sending out minions with badges and guns to force priests, rabbis, bonzes, etc. to do or not do certain things, they are in a tiny minority compared with those would violently object to such presumption on the part of the state, a nomenklatura, or a politicized hierarchy. Those who do advocate it might wish to temporarily abandon their certainty that they can sway society to their views, and imagine such power granted to a state in the control of their enemies.
John "Akatsukami" Braue Wednesday, July 17, 2002