Friday, October 5, 2007

Domestic Partnerships -- Update

Yesterday's entry inspired several comments on my EFXblog, some of which indicated that I need to clarify some points. Responding as simply another comment was turning into a novel, hence this follow-up entry.

Mothman said:

...the point of marital benefits is to support the formation, and stability, of family (whatever that family makeup is) ... and the family is the cornerstone of society, in my opinion.

The point is that not all those benefits restricted to marriage have to do with marriage, per se, but rather to the practical considerations of sharing a household. And I don't believe in THE family -- one type of family being "proper" one -- but rather in FAMILIES, that come in all sorts of configurations. Surely, single parent siblings sharing a home, grandparents raising grandchildren, and so on, are every bit of a family worth supporting as a married couple is.

Except that I'm not religious, in the least, so where does that leave me?

If I were to have married my wife in a religious ceremony, I would be a hypocrite.

So who would you have carry out the union between my wife and I, if not the gov't?

The private part of a marriage, doesn't have to be a religious ceremony -- or any ceremony at all, if those involved so choose. If you want a public recognition of what you and your wife have already decided together privately, then any sort of ceremony that is meaningful to you would do; it need not involve religion.

Who would carry out the union between your wife and you? You've already done so yourselves once you decided to make that commitment. Your commitment existed from the moment you decided that it did and you don't have to have the government to tell you what you've already decided in your hearts.

You can't just leave it up to the individual to decide amongst themselves where the rules/benefits apply, and where they don't.

The rules and benefits part isn't the marriage -- it's the domestic partnership. The marriage is the commitment that you and your wife have decided among yourselves. One is about practical realities that apply to several different living situations, the other is about a romantic commitment. They are two separate things than can, but don't always have to, go together.

That would be anarchy, and the system would be bloated with people running scams.

Scams are not entirely unknown with marriage as it currently exists. A prime example is foreigners entering into sham marriages with American citizens with the sole purpose of getting green cards so they can remain in this country. Anything that involves government bureaucracy is going to be prone of scams of one sort or another.

I suppose maybe what you're saying is to not call what my wife and I did a "marriage" ? But that's just semantics, isn't it.

No, you missed my point completely. What I propose is to separate out the legal benefits that are relevant to matters pertaining to maintaining a household that are currently reserved for married couples only and extend them to those in other sorts of familial relationships that could benefit from such rights and to put them under the umbrella of domestic partnerships. The emotional commitment part of marriage would be something else entirely that would exist alongside your domestic partnership, but it would be a personal, private matter, not a legal one. The DP wouldn't replace your marriage; it would only exist beside it.

And not to beat a dead horse, but I still stand by my opinion that my legal marriage had/has nothing to with sex.... especially so as it was a civil marriage, and not a religious one....The fact is, my marriage was not based upon a sexual relationship between my wife and I. Your concern is with the gov't's role in marriage, and I say that the gov't is not concerned with the sexual relations between the two partners involved.

What I mean by marriage being "based on a sexual relationship" is not that you (or anyone else) gets married primarily to have a sexual partner. I'm sure that you got married mainly because you loved one another and wanted to spend the rest of your lives together. My point was that the practical household-related benefits are only available in marriage, where a sexual relationship exists or the possibility of one is there.

Obviously, for those in other types of familial relationships who could benefit from some of these practical benefits, there is not a sexual relationship or the potential for one. They are denied the domestic benefits that come with marriage because their relationship cannot be marriage because, marriage, by definition, includes a sexual relationship or the potential for one. In parts of California that offer domestic partnerships, these are available to homosexual couples and heterosexuals in marriage-clone relationships -- again, they are limited to those in relationships that presumably include sex. The point is simply that domestic household benefits should not be limited to marriage or marriage-clone relationships.

Laurie said:

I knew I was going to want to have kids and I wanted them to know their dad and I loved each other enough to sign that piece of paper.

And they could not know their dad without it? I don't get it. You and he made the commitment together and that would include being involved parents whether or not you got that piece of paper. Indeed, if you've been together that long and raised a family together, you would have been just as married de facto, whether or not you'd ever informed the government of the commitment you'd already made. And I'm guessing that it's not the piece of paper that's been keeping him by your side all these years.

Lisa said:

I too was married by the court and not in a church so if there was no government involved in marriage were would I go to get married? I didn't believe God needed to be a part of my marriage, it was just between me and my husband.

Your last phrase said it all -- it was just between you and your husband. The real marriage occurred the moment you decided to spend your lives together. You married each other -- you didn't need the government to approve of something you already felt in your hearts.

Jeremy said:

Something else that occurred to me is that a marriage is basically a 'promise' between two people who would otherwise be unobligated toward each other.

If you made the promise to one another -- do you really need the government to enforce it? I would say your obligation would exist because you committed to that. It would just be a personal obligation and not a legal one.

Aiel said:

However...other than a cohabiting couple, what reason would you have as siblings or family members who live together to have a marriage-like contract?

See Kinnigurl's comment -- she illustrated it much better than I could.

Eclectablog said:

But I tell you this: to suggest that marriage is something to be looked down on or to be disparaged crosses a big line with me. The intensity of emotions that surround my love and passion and commitment to my wife is profound and it the marriage ceremony was a public statement of that, one which I am entirely glad I took.

Whoa, hold on. To say that other kinds of relationships are as deserving of recognition and rights and marriage is not to look down on marriage. It may be a leveling, a removal of marriage from a lofty pedestal, but it doesn't look down on marriage, per se.

The intensity of your emotions and commitment to your wife is an intensely personal and private thing. A public marriage ceremony is statement to your friends and family that should be equally personal that I think is not enhanced by governmental bureaucracy in "one size fits all" marriage laws. You and she were married the moment you decided to make that commitment, and your ceremony was a public announcement of that fact. None of which required governmental regulations. You married each other -- the government didn't marry you.

In other words, I respect people's private decisions, even it it's not for me -- it's the government that I take a dim view of.

I just think the way you portray marriage neglects to recognize the intensity of bond that leads to it when it's Right.

No -- I think it's the government regulations that neglects to recognize the intensity of the many individual bonds with its one size fits all approach. Law is an impersonal and sometimes a dehumanizing business that I think has no business meddling in such intensely personal bonds.

Kinnigurl said:

My daughter and I live in a domestic relationship, which is a perfect example of what you are trying to get at. There is no sexual relationship obviously, but we are what I would consider a legal unit or household. We share all expenses and all assets and debts are split according to our percentage of the household income. However, we do not have any of the other benefits that a married couple have such as medical, dental,etc. We cannot file our taxes together and unless we have POA we have no legal rights with regards to banking etc., even though we have joint accounts. A domestic partnership would be beneficial to people that are in the same kind of situation as ours.

Kinnigurl -- thank you. You got exactly what I was driving at.


Cyn said...

1. traditional marriage
2. domestic partnerships amongst adults that are not marriage in the sense of romantic adult caretaker children of disabled parents or parents who are caretakers of adult disabled children (not declared incompetent by the court) or non familial friends who choose to live together w/out any intent of romantic entanglement but still require some legal basis to 'care for one another' in the event of illness or legalities etc. and any permutation you can imagine that need legal documentation to get stuff done for each other w/out POA or going to court for every little thing.
3. traditional marriage in conjunction w/ DP.

and i'm sure there are more combinations. so you can honor traditional marriage and be involved in a domestic partnership. or you can be in a domestic partnership that has nothing to do w/ traditional marriage.

sorry...but w/ just a tad extra thought...this all makes sense. unless of course you prefer to be firmly embedded in your 'box'. heh...

Libertine said...

Isn't that the truth!

Cyn said...

and i have to wonder about people who do miss the points you so clearly laid out in the first place...why are they so keen on just the traditional marriage aspect...what or who are they defending? hhhmmm....?