Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Aren't Mass, Conn, Iowa, Vt, N.H., and Maine hypocrites for not allowing plural marriages?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26829points) March 7th, 2011

If states like Iowa, Vermont, Maine et al can legalize same sex marriages as a civil rights and personal choice matter it should extend that to those who have an untraditional marriage that doesn’t encompass same sex people just several hetero women with one hetero male. Isn’t it rather two-faced to champion one group outside of traditional marriage but not stand up the same way for another? If you are taking religion away fro it an just making it about personal choice between people in love what reason is there to favor one and deny the other?

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71 Answers

bunnygrl's avatar

Because a marriage is a commitment between two people honey, what sex they are doesn’t matter a jot, its a couple who are promising to support each other through whatever life throws at them. A group of people is not a marriage. That doesn’t make it wrong if people chose to live in this manner (like you say, its a personal choice) but it certainly is not a marriage.

Apologies if this sounds at all critical, I don’t intend it to, I genuinely don’t and I mean no offence. It’s just my opinion. A marriage, by definition, is a contract between two people. The fact that same sex marriages are being recognised merely means that the law is finally being slightly less of an ass, and recognising that a loving couple is not always one of each sex. They are however a couple honey, not a group.

iamthemob's avatar

Unlike proponents of same-sex marriage, there has not been a significant public cry by many claimants and supporters for the legalization of polygamy. As they are different manifestations of change…the legislature and court as representatives of the people are at the very least reasonable to refrain from proactively redefining the public laws of the state without significant public debate.

But, there’s actually a more technical answer that is sort of simple – polygamous marriages were at one point recognized in the U.S. in certain areas, and throughout the world polygamy has a long tradition in various cultures. Therefore, from a legal perspective we’re dealing with two very very different things – one a new concept of inclusion that had yet to be considered, and the other a concept that has been discarded by the state and the people.

Arguably, therefore, it would require a much more significant effort to argue for the reformation of something that has already been debated – essentially, that would be a reversal of precedent where this is a novel question.

@bunnygrl – The definition of marriage is exactly what is central here. Marriage has almost universally been between people of the opposite sex. Therefore, it’s disingenuous, I think, to argue that we’re “fulfilling” the meaning of marriage by including SS couples – we are in fact more bringing in line what we know believe marriage to be with our concepts of equality.

But why shouldn’t that include polygamy? If the understanding is more and more about the personal commitment of parties to each other, then why can’t there be multiple parties as long as the commitment is genuine and of the same nature of a marriage?

bunnygrl's avatar

I don’t know honey. I just know what I think, what I believe. In a marriage, in my experience, you give every single piece of yourself to your partner. If you are willing to do that for another person, they should be willing to do as much for you. So in a polygamous arrangement you end up with one man giving a bit of himself to lots of different women, but each of them giving all of themselves to him?

Again, I mean no offence here, but I simply can’t imagine any woman being involved in such a relationship if she had any idea of self worth. I was very lucky to be raised by a very strong woman and the idea of being part of a harem for some man’s pleasure (no matter how much of a spin anyone puts on it) is just abhorent to me. If I give myself entirely to a man, in order to be worthy of that gift he better be willing to do the exact same thing for me.

iamthemob's avatar

@bunnygrl – A note – polygamy is essentially synonymous with plural marriages – this means that there are multiple partners of mixed sex. Therefore, it includes relationships that would have a single wife and multiple husbands.

But part of the problem is that you’re focusing on in many ways the sexual and companionate aspects of marriage. Those are technically separate and apart from the contract issues, but can be connected.

There are many, many reasons why a marriage wouldn’t work. However, what you believe is, of course, what you believe. There are many believe that SS unions should not be legal at all. Simply because it won’t work for some doesn’t mean that it won’t work for others. And those who rush into the relationship unprepared may find themselves in a messy divorce, but will be able to separate themselves from it.

Brian1946's avatar

”...just several hetero women with one hetero male”.

Is your omission of a reference to polyandrous marriages forgetful, hypocritical, or something else?

KatawaGrey's avatar

I think the problem here is that “marriage” is not technically a legal term. “Marriage” is a religious term but, unfortunately, it has gotten wrapped up in legality so it is illegal in most places to marry anyone except one person of the opposite sex. I think that people should be allowed to be civilly united to anyone they choose but I do not think the marriage aspect should get mixed up with the legal aspect.

I think the best possible solution would be for a religious marriage to not automatically equal a civil union. I think if you want to be married in the eyes of God, then that is an entirely different matter than if you want to be united in the eyes of the law. In the legal sense, I think that someone should be able to get all of the legal perks of being civilly united with as many people as they so choose as long as they are willing to go through all the work. That is to say, if you have four spouses, then you should be willing to go to the courthouse and fill out all the forms to have four next of kin, all of the appropriate tax forms and the like.

I wonder if part of the problem is that if people could legally be united in “clumps” instead of “couples,” then there would be some serious gaming of the tax system along the lines of, “What do you mean I can’t claim her as a dependent? She’s my wife!” said about a woman in a nursing home he never sees and for whom he pays none of the nursing home fees. I do think this would be a radical situation but I think there would have to be a number of rules, at least on the legal end of it, for polygamy to work.

CaptainHarley's avatar

If you allow polygamy, then you should also allow polygnany, polyandry, pedophilia, etc. Where does it end when you are operating without standards?

KatawaGrey's avatar

@CaptainHarley: I’d hardly put pedophilia in the same category as polygamy. We’re talking about consenting adults here. Big difference.

jerv's avatar

I was waiting for someone to second the “slippery slope” fallacy. Hey, let’s legalize prostitution wile we’re at it. And since morality has taken a back seat, let’s decriminalize murder too. Screw it; if we legalize gay marriage, why not just abolish all laws and social norms?

One thing that is neglected here is that gays make up a fairly substantial portion of our population whereas polygamists and pedophiles are small minorities. Now, if it isn’t okay to curtail the rights of, say, Texans (a smaller minority), why would it be okay to curtail the rights of homosexuals? That is especially true since people are born gay, but being Texan is a choice.

lynfromnm's avatar

I personally have no problem with polygamy or polyandry as long as it is by the mutual consent of adults. I don’t see that it is the state’s business to restrict the rights of consenting adults in their lifestyle. Of course the feds are concerned about how to tax people who have this lifestyle, but if the tax code were simplified it wouldn’t be an issue – just stop favoring those who are married.

Religions are probably the strongest force in establishing social norms in the US, so even though churches aren’t supposed to make law, they have tremendous influence. It is that influence that persuades us to accept, without question, which lifestyles are government sanctioned. It’s our own fault for allowing such restrictions.

iamthemob's avatar

@lynfromnm – There would have to be some tax provisions that were retained for married parties – for instance, estate tax provisions heavily favor marriage relations. This is a benefit that can’t really be eliminated, considering that if it were the death of one of the partners would mean that the property passing to the other would be taxed as if they weren’t related at all.

That would SUCK. ;-)

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think one complication to polygamy and polyandry is just the technical sides of the legal contract. It’s something that I could see coming in the future, but I think there may need to be some more things figured out before the legal aspect of it is ready. In a two person marriage (be it man/woman, man/man, woman/woman) the spouse has certain legal rights over each other. In a poly relationship, there would be more than one person with those legal rights over each other, so whose say would be the one that actually was listened to? Let’s say Bill is married to Sue and Jim and Bill goes into a coma. The doctors want to ask the next of kin what to do, but Sue and Jim don’t agree. Or Bill dies and they are giving his estate to his next of kin, does it go to Sue or Jim? Yes there are other legal documents that can clarify the situation, but my point is, the legal contract side of it gets much more confusing when there are more people added to the contract. Tax issues could be another complicated issues. Sure, they file as married, but does the 3rd or 4th spouse then just count as a regular dependent or are they factored in differently? Not to mentioned needing new tax forms with spots for more than two incomes.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m with @Seaofclouds on this one. Same sex marriages are ones that do not require any significant change in the legislation or administration of the family statuses already in place.

The multiple types of potential relationships that are possible in an amorphous polygamy setting would require a lot more individual attention and redrafting for the state. I think that it could happen eventually, but I think the process will be brutally slow.

marinelife's avatar

No. Saying a marriage has to be only between two people is fine.

Jaxk's avatar

The piece that everyone seems to miss is why the government is involved in marriage in the first place. If you figure that out, the answers may become more clear.

Once you start redefining marriage, you can define it anyway you like, two men, two women, three men, three women or any combination. Hell, even a man and his dog (a little beastiality never hurt anyone). The key is why the government is involved. It is social engineering, pure and simple.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – Marriage has been re-defined about every 50 years for at least the past 400 years. From canon to canon and civil. From common law to formal. Suddenly legally requiring monogamy. Slaves were freed and the Freedman Bureau quickly stopped informal marriages so that they’d be more “American.” Native American land was broken up and their Bureau did the same thing. No divorce to no divorce without cause and you can’t get married again to divorce with no cause. Race mixing was forbidden…but then it was unconstitutional.

It is utterly dishonest of you to claim, however, that anything regarding bestiality could come into it. When has an animal been considered competent to contract. Nope, again, we’re talking about a status relationship that has constantly been shifting. Please don’t bring in the red herrings…you’re smarter than that.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central By “traditional marriage,” I assume you mean an arrangement in which one man sells his daughter to another man for mutual benefit? Or perhaps you mean an arrangement by which two people commit themselves to one another for the purposes of bilateral domestic service in a private ceremony with no governmental or religious oversight? Or perhaps you mean an arrangement by which the leader of a group of people distributes women among the men, typically retaining two or three for himself? Or perhaps you mean an arrangement in which a set of brothers all attach themselves to a single woman so as to not divide up a family estate?

Or do you really mean the relatively new practice wherein two people who love one another decide they wish to spend the rest of their lives together and formalize this under the auspices of a civilly recognized institution?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@KatawaGrey “Marriage” is not a religious term. In the West, in fact, the church and the state got involved in marriage at about the same time. Before that it was a social institution.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I think that @Seaofclouds is pretty close. I mean, us married folks get a tax break, so the government has something to lose by allowing marriage amongst those that are unable to produce a future taxpayer. Of course, that brings us back to why infertile people are allowed to marry. Does my vasectomy scar make my marriage invalid as well?

crazyivan's avatar

With a name like Hypocrisy Central I’d think you’d have a firm definition on what hypocrisy is… I note that your question doesn’t make any attempt to explain why that would be hypocrtical. To me it’s the same as saying:

“Isn’t it hypocritical to allow people to drink coffee when beating up school children is illegal?”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@SavoirFaire*_ By “traditional marriage,” I assume you mean an arrangement in which one man sells his daughter to another man for mutual benefit? Seeing you missed the context of what I am saying allow me to further simplify, traditional marriage as practiced here in the USA. polygamous marriages were at one point recognized in the U.S. in certain areas, and throughout the world polygamy has a long tradition in various cultures. via @ iamthemob All that you were alluding to if I can even wrap my mind around it as to un-rabble all of that as nebulous as it was has little credence of what marriage is. USA traditional; one man and one woman.

@CaptainHarley Where does it end when you are operating without standards? In a nut shell that is basically the whole problem; people didn’t like the standard so they want a new one which others won’t like.

@bunnygrl the idea of being part of a harem for some man’s pleasure (no matter how much of a spin anyone puts on it) is just abhorent[sic] to me. Some might find it repugnant not to be part of a group, and I have known women who thought it abhorrent not to be pampered and taken care of by a man where they had to do nothing but enjoy life. There is another side to that coin dear. ;-)

@jerv One thing that is neglected here is that gays make up a fairly substantial portion of our population whereas polygamists and pedophiles are small minorities. As a whole gays are still a relative minority even if you count those still in the closet. The handicap makes up quite a small pool of the US citizenry but buildings, bathroom, public transportation, etc as to adapt to them, even if it is more expensive to do so. To discard polygamist just because they don’t have ”numbers” we have precedent to show you don’t have to have those large number to have your rights spoken up for.

@Seaofclouds _ In a poly relationship, there would be more than one person with those legal rights over each other, so whose say would be the one that actually was listened to? Unless there is some prewritten document like a _groupamony the 1st person of the opposite sex to wed has the bigger sway. If you have Alan, Brenda and Megan if Alan is t-boned by a drunk driver to safe him there has to be a dangerous operation done, if Brenda married Alan 7 months, 7 weeks, or 7 days before Megan she has the majority position, simple.

@iamthemob The multiple types of potential relationships that are possible in an amorphous polygamy setting would require a lot more individual attention and redrafting for the state. In many ways we have been doing that all along, we have from stewardess to flight attendant; Policeman to law enforcement officer; mailman to postal worker or mail carrier; here would be no difference.

@crazyivan I note that your question doesn’t make any attempt to explain why that would be hypocritical[sic]. Lets not beat any young’ins, and get your cup of coffee this might take a minute.

It is hypocritical if you are going to legalize and sanction same sex marriages –the same as traditional US marriages—and not allow polygamist to the feast. Why? In nature as well as the history of humankind bka mankind the grouping was one alpha male or stallion and many females, sometimes there was an alpha female but she was not alone. The concept of one man many females has been around for centuries, open and notorious, way more than same sex unions. In many cultures today you can have more than one wife but to try to have a husband if you are male or a wife if you are female you take your life in your hands, your same sex love could be the death of you both. If you remove religion, the Bible especially where it says each man is own woman and each woman her own man then there is no sin to have Steve and Carl, Lucy and Jill, Ian, Brenda, Sue, and Carle, or Beth, Bill, Max, and Kendrick. But we are cleaving the Bible out of it, so the one man, one woman qualifier is gone, done with, eliminated. So plural marriages are on the same technical, logical, and legal playing field as same sex marriages regardless of number; be it 5,000 or 750,000. If it all comes down to sentient consenting humans who believe or feel they are in love having an official union with all the benefits thereof, to exclude, jail and prosecute those who live openly in polygamy in any state that allows same sex marriage outside the traditional US marriage is hypocritical, disingenuous, and two-faced.

bolwerk's avatar

No, and “states” (it’s really the politicians in the states) aren’t automatically hypocrites when they disallow gay marriage either. They’re usually just bigots, or maybe naive.

Of course, on a closer look, there is usually some hypocrisy involved in any irrational democratic political decision. Divorce, extramarital affairs, and even homosexuality hardly seem unusual in the one man, one woman, one lifetime crowd. And, in extreme cases, you find incest and pedophilia also go with Repuglikanism. You find hypocrisy in most other reactionary political positions, including anti-“welfare” zealotry and racism.

Regarding polygamy, it’s usually heavily weighted against women. Men are the ones who get all the sexual perks from it. Still, I’m not sure the anti-polygamist is typically of the disposition that women need to be protected from the institution, though. But I get the impression people see it as superfluous to reproduction and Dionysian. And I’m not sure that means it should be banned, but then I’m of the opinion that state-recognized marriage is silly.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – Those aren’t comparable examples. They’re comparable to the change from man and wife to partners or something relating to a change in to add SS marriage to the equation.

But, as mentioned, there are property rights, child custody rights, assumptions of parenthood, joint and several liability, tenancy-in-common property arrangements, divorce issues, etc. etc. that are based on the nature of the relationship being between two parties. Exampler: two men and a woman are married. One of the men meets another woman and wants her to join. The other two don’t agree. He leaves the couple to be alone with the new woman. They start dating a third woman. They do not begin the process of divorce, although they are separated.

The woman from the original relationship dies. All three from the original group are still married, but one is separated…

In the normal marriage situation it would be clear what would happen as there’d only be one survivor to inherit. But now there are two – one of them estranged.

So, they’d have to determine whether leaving the primary home constituted abandoning the relationship, or starting with another, or being replaced, etc. and therefore he wouldn’t inherit. Otherwise, the husband who was faithful gets screwed out of half his property potentially.

That’s where polygamy runs into problems legislatively that SS marriages do not.

whitenoise's avatar

Limiting the number of people that can enter into a bond that has external legal effects beyond (marriage is relatively unique in that sense) is not discriminatory.

After all that number would apply to anyone that wants to enter into such bond, that is marriage. In that sense it differs from setting the bond aside exclusively for people from opposite sex. It is therefore not hypocritical.

You may think they ought to allow (even) more forms of marriage, but that is a different issue.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Huh? Okay… you concede that is okay to cater to one minority (the handicapped) yet we must discriminate against a larger minority (homosexuals)? Tell us how that is not hypocritical!

I should also point out that while some cultures have no issues with polygamy, nearly all cultures have issues with pedophilia and bestiality. Some taboos are cultural while some are universal; homosexuality is not a universal taboo.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I didn’t miss the context. Indeed, the first two versions of marriage were quite common in the US for a long time. So were laws against interracial marriages. The fact is that there is no such thing as “traditional marriage,” and those who use the term in their argument against same-sex marriage do not limit themselves to the traditions of a single country (because that would make their argument even more ridiculous). They are attempting to appeal to a “higher authority” than a single country’s customs or legal code.

As for polygamy, the case is legally more complex. As such, it requires a separate investigation as to whether or not it should be legal. Much of this has been covered above by @iamthemob and @whitenoise. Perhaps those in favor of legalizing polygamy could use certain elements of the same-sex marriage movement in its favor, but the two are not precisely the same. Insofar as they can be logically separated, then, it is not hypocritical to legalize one and not the other.

Moreover, advocating same-sex marriage is not the same as denigrating polygamy. So choosing one political battle rather than another need not be hypocritical even if the principles that lead to one also lead to the other. Understanding which battles can be won and which need more support among the populace before legal action would be warranted is an act of prudence rather than duplicity.

lynfromnm's avatar

I still don’t see why the type of marriage a person has is any business of government’s.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

You sidestepped the issue. Marriage has been around for thousands of years and is part of virtually every culture. All with the same basic definition. Changing or adding laws that govern marriage is not the same as changing the definition of it. Nor does that address the basic issue of why government is involved in the first place. It is not because they have any interest in ‘finding your soul mate’. Even if it was, who’s to say that the Tijuana whore hasn’t found her ‘soul mate’ in that donkey she seems to love so much.

And just a note on your legal complexity of polygamy, cultures that endorse this seem to be able to navigate those waters just fine. And have been doing so for thousands of years.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

Just a note to let you know that prostitution is already legal in some places. Nevada for example.

CaptainHarley's avatar

“Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark what discord follows!
...
“Force should be right, or, rather, right and wrong—
Between whose endless jar justice resides—
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself.” – William Shakespere

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv Huh? Okay… you concede that is okay to cater to one minority (the handicapped) yet we must discriminate against a larger minority (homosexuals)? Tell us how that is not hypocritical! Where did you get that from. That point was to illustrate that the number (or lack thereof) plays little difference on who’s rights should be championed or not. To try to say “well gays should be allowed to marry because there are more of them than known polygamist” That is the bottom line illustration. Why? Because as a whole there might be more gays than the handicap surely there are more other minorities than the handicap but the handicap are not overlooked. That is the point.

@SavoirFaire So were laws against interracial marriages. Yeah, and “not mingling” happened all over the world, the US was not the 1st to go down that road as you try to graft in racial discrimination into the debate. Since you wanted to go there a woman no matter if she is Asian, Black or Native American so long as her plumbing works she can conceive a child by any man of any other race. By the way, that is the usual way nature has done it for 10s of thousands of years. A same sex union and not propagate itself complete within itself. I have never heard of two regular biological men or women conceiving a child completely within themselves with out the help from outside the union or science have you? Two women, two men they have to go to the other sex to have a baby and with gay men unless one seeks out a female to help produce a child from the sperm of one of them they have to adopt. They can’t do it between their own partners. That is why you can stack interracial unions next to it.

The fact is that there is no such thing as “traditional marriage,” and those who use the term in their argument against same-sex marriage do not limit themselves to the traditions of a single country (because that would make their argument even more ridiculous). They are attempting to appeal to a “higher authority” than a single country’s customs or legal code. If there is someone arguing against same sex marriage it was not me. I am saying that if one goes that way don’t half step and let all others who want to be ”with the one they love” have a seat at the table, hardly the same thing. I do not live in Kyrgyzstan, Belize, Italy or elsewhere. What customs they have I can’t argue against because I don’t live there. I can only attest to what I see here in the US where I live.

@Jaxk Just a note to let you know that prostitution is already legal in some places. Nevada for example. If one wanted to split hairs down to the molecule there is quite a bit of unofficial prostitution going on daily. If any woman accepts free tickets from a rock star because she will boink him, or a basketball groupie takes a LV handbag or a pair of Prada shoes for boinking the point guard or Jane Q citizen has sex with a guy after dining at the fanciest restaurant in town one could say some back ally hooking was going on because material indirectly changed hands to precipitate the sex. We just call it hooking when the guy and the gal have little care or need to be with each other for reason just to satisfy the pocket or the loins; nothing more.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Nice side-step. Are you intentionally missing my point, or are we just having such a failure to communicate that we may as well just quit now? In fact, it seems to be a common thread.
In your rebuttal to @SavoirFaire, you omitted infertile (whether by defect, age, or elective surgery) heterosexual couples.
In the section addressed to me, you overlooked the entire last paragraph.

@Jaxk I am aware, but I have yet too see much of a push to legalize it nationwide like there is with gay marriage. Of course, both issues show you how intertwined religion and politics are. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the laws are more discriminatory in places where church attendance is high though.
As for the legal complexities of polygamy, bear in mind that it would be complicated since our culture is rather different. If nothing else, we like writing laws detailing all of the wherebys and hereforths; we like making things complicated. We also like the type of black-white thinking that the DSM IV uses as a diagnostic criteria for certain mental illnesses.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central It is not my fault that you are using loaded language that you do not understand. Be more careful when asking questions in the future. Not that your defense of the term “traditional marriage” makes any sense anyhow: I’m talking about how the term is used in American debates on the subject of same-sex marriage. You being from the US and not elsewhere, then, is quite irrelevant.

As for racial discrimination in marriage laws, the parallel is quite appropriate. Many of the same arguments used against interracial marriage are now used against same-sex marriage, and the “let’s just give ‘em civil unions” pseudo-compromise is just “separate but equal” for the 21st century. But my point was only that there are old elements of US marriage law that we do not endorse no matter how “traditional” they may have been. So again, talk of “traditional marriage” is quite beside the point.

Finally, propagation of the species seems to be a red herring. While @jerv is quite correct that you have ignored the fact that we would never let infertility undermine a heterosexual person’s right to marry, it seems to me that reproduction is irrelevant at a much deeper level. Leave aside couples that cannot or do not want to have children. The fact still remains that marriage is demonstrably unnecessary for the propagation of our species. Our sex drives take care of that, limited only by our ingenuity in coming up with methods of birth control (though aided by the ingenuity of men who want to avoid using birth control).

A lot of people hold on to old ideas about the legitimacy of children depending on the marital status of their parents, but evolution doesn’t give a damn about any of that. Sex will continue to happen, and babies will continue to be born, with or without marriage—be it opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, plural marriage, or whatever.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv Are you intentionally missing my point, or are we just having such a failure to communicate that we may as well just quit now? I got your point but you missed the counter. I know you to know better, I have seen your Q&A and I can’t and won’t “Gump” it down any further than I have. Sure there are more open gays than polygamist, so what? Again we are not talking who has the most numbers get the most consideration, if that were so a lot of people would be left out or not considered. It couldn’t get more simple than that, if you were a minority of 500 your rights still count.

@SavoirFaire It is not my fault that you are using loaded language that you do not understand. Be more careful when asking questions in the future. It wasn’t loaded by me, I was quite clear to the intent, I neither mumble nor stuttered. At the end of the day it is about rights and being an honest broker of such.

Many of the same arguments used against interracial marriage are now used against same-sex marriage, and the “let’s just give ‘em civil unions” pseudo-compromise is just “separate but equal” for the 21st century. Yeah, many do use it incorrectly, but you have to forgive them, their logic maybe rather tepid and their emotion on high octane.

So again, talk of “traditional marriage” is quite beside the point. Then lets say the “type of marriage most commonly used” between the Mayflower and the 1970s. Would you tell us what the sexual make up of more than 89% of those legal marriages were? The type ALL of our presidents and member of Congress had during that time.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Still missing it. I understand your red herring about numbers, but until you directly address some of the other stuff, we are at an impasse.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

I didn’t sidestep the issue though…that’s the thing. When you say that it’s been around for thousands of years with the same definition, it’s a profound misrepresentation of history, even if we focus on the Western European concept of it.

Howe we define marriage in the social context is really a red herring. If we say that there’s a general understanding of marriage that says nothing about how it’s legally defined, because those are where the civil rights are defined. In fact, just about everyone has a subjective idea of what marriage really entails, so agreeing on it is possible only on the most superficial level.

But when it comes down to it, for thousands of years many forms of polygamy were acceptable both socially and legally. Now, if we consider polygamy in a legal context, we have the situation where we actually do have a SS marriage. With one man and several wives…what is the relationship between the wives? Do they have none? No…it is not considered sexual but from a social and legal standpoint they are bound to each other. And when the husband dies, is the marriage dissolved? Are the women forced to split? Can they marry other men individually…or must they agree on a man together? Or are they forbidden to marry, which means the relationship defines all of them together?

It really seems like it’s you that’s sidestepping here. When we are discussing the legal definition of marriage, we are not talking about the social definition. It’s a fundamentally important distinction. Because we accept various religious and traditional ceremonial statements of marriage, as well as completely civil ones, the form, idea, or concept of the marriage matters little to the state. When we are talking about the bundle of legal rights associated with the relationships, we must only talk about what definition is appropriate for that, and provide reasons WHY certain relationships are properly excluded. Bestiality is properly excluded because of this rights and consent issue. So are children. After that, the social meaning becomes important – but that is also generally constantly shifting, and therefore it is proper to readdress it to figure out whether these standards are still applicable – as again we have done for every 50 years.

jerv's avatar

Face it, “traditional” doesn’t mean what it used to :p

iamthemob's avatar

@jerv – best…answer…ever…I am contemplating creating 40 dummy accounts to give you the lurve you deserve…

SavoirFaire's avatar

“When people talk about traditional values, they usually mean traditional myths about traditional values.”
—Randy Milholland

@Hypocrisy_Central I really think @jerv said it all two posts above, but I will point out that I never said most legally recognized marriages in the US weren’t constituted by one man and one woman. The actual practices within those relationships, however, is certainly not the same as their surface formalities might suggest. Plenty of non-heterosexual and non-monogamous behaviors going on there (especially among the presidents and Congressmen you mention). So again, I’ll just suggest that myths about marriage are not particularly relevant to discussions about what rights a certain group of people should have.

Regarding the language issue: if you don’t understand the words you are using when asking a question, you can’t really be surprised when people respond in ways you didn’t expect. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t load the language yourself. Context matters for communication, and the term “traditional marriage” exists within a context of usage. Furthermore, those who wish to cancel unwanted implications of their words must do so explicitly. I could cite linguistic research on all this if you’d like, but I doubt it should be necessary: it’s just observations of what is second nature to ordinary communicators.

Finally, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make regarding anti-miscegenation laws. I pointed out that something being traditional was not necessarily a recommendation, and you respond that I have to forgive racists. Non sequitur?

iamthemob's avatar

I’ll forgive racists. I won’t forget them…;-)

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Nice tap dance but you never came close. I don’t care if you look at the history in European cultures, Asian Cultures, or any other, the point was always the same. To create a family unit. Even if you look at @jerv‘s point, it was fairly common dissolve the marriage if the woman was barren (of course it was always assumed to be the woman).

Hell, even when the joint tax return was created it was to foster the family unit. Now go back and look at all the different interpretations or definitions of marriage and see which ones foster the family unit. The family unit is the only reason for government involvement. All your legal wrangling, not withstanding.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

The family has been part of it…however, it was often ancillary to the idea of property consolidation, at least in the West. Or authority/political control. It was not about creation of a separate family unit until fairly recently (i.e., one’s own family). Companionate or romantic marriage hasn’t really been part of the cultural norm in the West until the eighteenth century. We also moved to a more market system economy, with less connection to traditional lands, as one empire or another expanded its land. We had manifest destiny in the U.S. One could be a self-made man, and therefore one was less and less connected to inherited land and more about creating something oneself.

As soon as we disconnected the family from property in this way, we began to choose our own families. That’s when the family units started to diversify. It’s when marriage became part of the individuality in the U.S. and part of defining oneself as a citizen. The more freedom we’ve attained, the more we’ve recognized that our family choices are our own, and the state should have little involvement in them. The more rigid the political and economic structures, the less family choices we’ve had.

The joint filing tax system is the least of it. The problem with state definition of marriage that is exclusionary to SS couples are the issues related to immigration, adoption, property purchase and inheritance, credit and debt sharing, POA and medical decisions, agency, etc. – all of which are granted to one couple and not the other, and are distinctly not about encouraging reproduction but recognizing that the individuals have committed to each other in a manner which necessitates that, for the ease of their lives, we recognize that commitment as a proxy for the formalities in each of the individual areas above. Children have nothing, for instance, in the ability for a creditor to assess debt against a wife that the husband accrued in their name. It has nothing to do with the inheritance system in a marriage in that intestate inheritance in the U.S. passes property 100% to the spouse if that spouse is still alive. This excludes children. If it were concerned with reproduction now, intestate inheritance would require that if there were children that part of the property be held in trust for children. It does not – it assumes no children. POA and health decisions recognize nothing about children, and neither does immigration – it is about the parties to the marriage.

So when you say “family unit” you’re right. But it’s not the reproductive family unit. It’s about who the leaders are, who the preferred population is, and who has the right of a citizen. The state has used marriage as a weapon against populations more than it has used it to foster reproduction, as reproduction was necessary for a clear passage of property up until a more market-based economy. Once that was out, it was used to prevent certain types of children of certain types of couples, or certain populations, from realizing full citizenship. I told you about the Freedman’s Bureau, etc. It was meant to eliminate the traditional, non-monogamous relationships that had built up during slave times, to eliminate a sense of transitional community and make the man the head of the household. Women weren’t allowed to be citizens and that was okay because men were the head of the househould and therefore would vote for their wives. So women could gain citizenship through marriage. If they married someone of another nationality, they lost their U.S. nationality. When they were citizens in their own right, we soon had a movement to divorce (as women were independent from men).

So, you can claim what you think marriage has been about, and what it’s main themes are. But it’s a very simplistic view, very shallow, and not really steeped in history. It seems like tap-dancing to you, but it’s because you seem to now know what you’re talking about. Maybe it’s simply because you haven’t provided any evidence for what you say. But as someone who’s studied the legal, historical, and social aspects of this for years, formally and professionally, you really are reciting a party line. I don’t know if it’s what you actually thing because it confirmed what you already believed or want to believe, but it’s beneath your level of thought from what I’ve seen in other posts. I’m disappointed in you. And you’re wrong.

lynfromnm's avatar

@iamthemob – preferred population, exactly! I love that phrase.

None of us are required to participate in a marriage at all. I don’t see a reason to be married at all – the mere act gives the state a role in my relationships. As the single population overcomes the numbers of the married people, perhaps we shall be “preferred”.

SavoirFaire's avatar

The “family unit” argument surely begs the question. First, my wife and I are typically considered a family unit despite the fact that we do not have children. If we count as a family unit, so would a same-sex married couple. There is no essential difference between the two cases.

Second, even if we include having children as a necessary condition for constituting a family unit—which would again raise the issue of whether or not marriages between sterile people or those who intend to never have children are legitimate—that just means we need to make sure that marriage rights and adoption rights are given at the same time. If we allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, then there is no problem.

The argument from family unity, then, is fallacious. It basically says “we can’t let people of the same sex get married because they can’t form family units, and people of the same sex can’t form family units because they can’t get married.”

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Your arguments merely give credence to mine. You should think this through before answering. It has been about the creation of the family unit since the beginning of time (I leave myself open to those that want to argue whether it was around during the big bang). The family unit has always been of importance and frankly was even more important in early times than it is now. Commoners wouldn’t marry royalty because they couldn’t dilute the family lineage. In other words the offspring. Hell, nobody cared (or at least cared less) if the had affairs but not marriage and that had to do with the family.

Your Freedmans argument is the same thing. It was an attempt to control the family. They didn’t want mixed blood children. And certainly not in the family unit.

The family unit has spurred all sorts of property rights as well. The whole idea of community property stemmed from the idea that the woman would be home with the kids and she should share in the prosperity. Or at least not be left destitute because she was devoted to the family rather than the business. It is assumed that when the surviving spouse dies that the children inherit whats left. In fact in lieu of any documents to the contrary, that’s what happens.

Frankly I’m surprised that you would believe that government involvement in marriage has any other purpose. Property rights, survivor rights, even medical decisions are based on having an autonomous family unit. Until your married medical decisions fall to the parents. Once married they fall to the new family unit.

You can argue for or against same sex marriage (hell I could as well) but it doesn’t change the basic premise of government involvement. Personally I don’t have a dog in that fight. Both you and @SavoirFaire seem to believe that there has to be a child (or children) to have a valid argument. It is rather then potential for having children that makes the difference. Go back through your arguments and see how many of these legal machinations are based on the possibility of having children rather than the fact of it.

But I’ll warn you, that if you come back calling me names, I’ll respond in kind. I’d just as soon not go down that road.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk Just out of curiosity, how do adopted/foster kids enter into the equation? I mean, there are many same-sex couples that are great parents yet there are those that consider that inferior to remaining in a loveless, neglectful, abusive, or otherwise harmful situation merely because the parents have different genitalia from each other.
I guess what I am getting at here is the issue of how we define “family unit”. It’s simple for most heterosexual couples to make a fuck-trophy, but how many can actually make a family? And aside from having to adopt an otherwise unwanted child instead of making their own, what does a same-sex couple lack when it comes to making a family?

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

If you can point out to me a single law in the history of the United States where the benefits of marriage are dependent on the production of a child, I will agree with your argument. Not the assumption of children, but rather dependent on it.

You argue that it is so fundamental. However, if it is fundamental, there will at least be one single mention of it somewhere. If it is conditional, then we are talking about the creation of a family unit that, yes, will often lead to children. However, if it is not the necessary result of the relationship, then it is more about the government regulating interactions between adults, and determining which it will approve of and in what way by providing benefits to them.

PS – I have not called you name. I’ve said that I’m disappointed in you. I am. You’re smarter than this. And it’s dishonest for you to claim that I’m dancing around an issue that you’re saying is the central part to it.

If it’s the central reason for the relationship, then at some point some law about the benefits of the marriage must be tied to reproduction.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk I will say again that propagation seems to be a red herring. We would never let infertility undermine a heterosexual person’s right to marry, and our sex drives take care of reproduction independently of marriage. We don’t need marriage to create children.

If the potential for children is what makes the difference for you, then, what do you say about sterile people getting married? They do not have the potential for having children. Indeed, same-sex couples have a higher potential, since they could potentially swap gametes with a same-sex couple of the opposite sex. It might need to be a rather involved process if none of the people in question are bisexual, but the potential is still greater than in the case of a sterile couple.

(And objecting that the child of such a union does not really belong to the couple just makes the case of the infertile couple more important: what of couples that resort to sperm or egg donors due to the inadequacy of their own gametes?)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

One would think here in Fluther people would not be stuck inside-the-box. Rather than sit there and argue the color of the box or what it is made of, think beyond that to the shape of the box.

Perhaps government is in marriage because the married people invited government in, or government had to come in because married people or those soon to be not married anymore could not act civilly. When it comes down to who gets to “pull the plug” who gets custody of the kids, how to divvy up the estate I am sure husbands and wives did not want to be cut from the picture by their spouses parents, siblings or even children from another marriage. Government is involved in marriage pretty much the same way it is in how we drive, what we can drive and where, how we conduct business and treat and pay employees. To try to dismiss marriage simply because the government applies rules to it is incongruous. If government had no boundaries to marriage it would be chaos.

No…it is not considered sexual but from a social and legal standpoint they are bound to each other. And when the husband dies, is the marriage dissolved? Are the women forced to split? Can they marry other men individually…or must they agree on a man together? Or are they forbidden to marry, which means the relationship defines all of them together? None of that is hard to manage.
• If it is several woman married to a man and he dies all the women are his widow. That marriage is over since they were all married to him and not the other women. Solved
• The women don’t have to split up, they can form their own new marriage with each other. Solved.
• They can go off and marry whomever they want, like a business partnership when one dies the partnership is over, if the surviving members want to keep doing business together they form a new partnership. The man dies (or the woman with several husbands) the marriage is over, the widows are free to form whatever other unions they care for. Solved.
• If there is an estate and no will the 1st woman in has the larger way and 1st crack at the goods.

We put man on the moon and can’t figure out how to navigate a plural marriage? Maybe we should go ask out Saudi friends, they have been doing it for centuries.

@SavoirFaire if you don’t understand the words you are using when asking a question, you can’t really be surprised when people respond in ways you didn’t expect. Oh, I know exactly the words I used and how I used them. Surprised at the reaction? Not by many, they can’t think out-side –the-box, be it emotion, person preference I don’t know? They would rather argue how square the corners are, if there is a lid, the measurements of the sides, etc. Rather than cleave emotion all the way out of it if it looks like the logic will slay their sacred cow they hide that cow in the box with them.

I pointed out that something being traditional was not necessarily a recommendation, and you respond that I have to forgive racists. Non sequitur? You don’t have to forgive anyone, hold whatever grudges you wish. I was just saying people who misapply the connection you have to just give a pass because they don’t know any better.

iamthemob's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central

I don’t disagree with your solutions, although they’re a bit simplified (but hey, they have to be). However, what I’m saying is that these are issues that need to be addressed on many levels (e.g., there are tax impacts to the transfer of property after the death of the spouse…if the wives have different incomes, should that make a difference?). It’s not as simple as you make it out to sound – but what is more the problem I was getting at is that the legislature would debate all these issues, and the citizens would argue with them…etc.

We have so much problem just getting the idea of SS marriage to a reasonable place, and it’s essentially a wholesale adoption of already-written laws.

The main thing is that none of these legislatures are going to do anything about that unless there’s a constituency demanding it. There was a vocal and fairly large community of gays and lesbians in the country that pushed for this kind of legislation, and after years it started to work.

We don’t see that with or for polygamy. Personally, I think that we do need to go completely wholesale one way or the other – either there are no government benefits associated with marriage (barring immigration, I think) or there should be benefits offered to all adults who want to make the commitment and who share a primary household residence. Details would need to be carefully examined, but, I will say that since divorce is a costly procedure, I believe that we would not have very many people “group marrying and sharing a house” for very long, if at all.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I don’t hold any grudges against racists. Indeed, these two posts make it quite explicit that the opposite is the case. What I said was that the whole issue of forgiveness was a non sequitur. It has no relevance to the discussion because the case of anti-miscegenation laws was brought up for an entirely different reason. Please learn to read more carefully. Nor do I think you are correct in saying that we have to give the ignorant a pass. Ignorance is not an excuse. It is to be addressed, not passed over in silence.

As for the issue of words, you are getting yourself into a mess. You used a term that means one thing then claimed to not be using it to mean that thing despite giving no indication otherwise. Now you say you knew exactly what it meant and how you used it. But knowing how you used it—or, more precisely, how you were trying to use it—is different from knowing what the term means. Meaning, like communication, is public. You made a mistake, and now you’re trying to backpedal rather than move on.

As for thinking outside the box, you’ll have to explain. I’ve not said that I am for or against plural marriage. I’ve not tried to defend any sacred cows. What I’ve said is that the two issues can be logically separated and so states need not be hypocrites for legalizing same-sex marriage and not plural marriage. You have not presented any real arguments to the contrary, just a few feelings. Meanwhile, @iamthemob and I have explained how the two can be separated. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t legalize plural marriage, or even that some of the same grounds used to legalize same-sex marriage will come into play when that argument is had. It is only to say that the argument for legalizing same-sex marriage is not in itself sufficient for also legalizing plural marriage.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Jaxk Until you’re 18, medical decisions fall to the parents. After that, single or married, medical decisions are made by the person involved or whoever he or she chooses as a surrogate.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Another thought I just had, what about social security benefits after the spouse died? IfJoe has 5 wives, do they split the amount 1 would get or do the each get that amount? Just another legal issue that would need to be worked out.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Well let me give you an example. How about the law against brother-sister marriages, father daughter marriages, and so on. All specifically to deter off-spring from these relationships. If as you seem to argue that the family unit and off-spring carry no weight in marriage, why would these be illegal. I can see a great benefit to father-daughter marriages in tax relief, joint property, medical decisions, hell virtually everything. Same with mother-son or mother-daughter and father-son where they choose to share housing and costs.

Or is it your contention that it is the act of sex that makes it a marriage. Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice (I think they made a movie about them) would then qualify as well. And that takes us back to the original question of ‘why not plural marriages’? And it also leads back to my original point of why government is involved in the first place. I just can’t make myself believe that the government is involved to insure a fulfilling sexual experience.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk I think that there is a difference between not bringing a kid into the world and bringing in one that will be genetically damaged enough to be a drain on society, if not immediately then a few generations down the road when the rates of birth defects such as hemophilia skyrocket. I think that society has a vested interest in keeping the human race from suffering the same fate as the cheetah, so restrictions against inbreeding make sense from the viewpoint of actual physical survival of the species.

Someone could try to turn that around and say that same “survival of the species” argument applies to same-sex couples, but that would bring us back to invalidating the marriages of those who are childless-by-choice or infertile. I might agree if every child was wanted and born to parents that can and will raise that kid right, but so long as there are unfit parents, orphans, and the like, I cannot go along with that idealism even to that extent, let alone to the point of invalidating my own childless marriage.

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

I’m not sure if you were following the question I was asked. It was to name a single marriage law that had anything to do with child bearing. I was not advocating incest nor do I disagree with the laws against it. But if this is the point you want to discuss, would same sex marriage be available for sisters, mother daughter, brothers, or father son? There seems little chance of any demented off-spring, so how about it?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv I think that there is a difference between not bringing a kid into the world and bringing in one that will be genetically damaged enough to be a drain on society, if not immediately then a few generations down the road when the rates of birth defects such as hemophilia skyrocket. That is basically a non-starter. The government at the end of the day do not care about children that might be a drain on society in the future or they would criminalize women who drank too much, took drugs while pregnant or smoked during pregnancy. At the moment I see none of that happening, every once in a while some poor hapless woman gets singled out but it is not an conclusive across the board policy.

Someone could try to turn that around and say that same “survival of the species” argument applies to same-sex couples, but that would bring us back to invalidating the marriages of those who are childless-by-choice or infertile. They do and try. Because some couples knowingly can’t have children and marry anyhow or they at the time of the marriage choose not to is suppose to somehow say “See? We are no different then them”. The difference is they have all the good to do it, it is just broken or they chose not to use it. In the case of couples that are infertile one never knows when a breakthrough in science could help those couples out. Those who decided they didn’t want kids can later change their mind and all the plumbing is there ready to go. No matter how much same sex couples (especially men) want they can’t have children unless they go outside the union, there is no chance at all they will ever have the chance to produce a child “in-house”. The gals might have one half of the plumbing but nothing to make it work.

@Jaxk But if this is the point you want to discuss, would same sex marriage be available for sisters, mother daughter, brothers, or father son? It would be if it were totally about loving people choosing their coupling but it is not like that and has never been to the greater extent. No matter how latent the imprint society is squeamish about a man marrying his daughter or brother marrying sister because of incest, which would only count really if you factor in religion. How can you factor in religion for incestuous unions and ignore it for same sex unions? If you take away the religious factor then plural marriages are good to go too. All the talk about how confusing it will be, when government is involved when is it ever simple? Even if you wanted to build a playground on public land or for public use you can just get timbers, old tires etc. and build a fort with swings etc. there are standards you have to meet, protocol you have to jump through, it isn’t as simple as saying “Everyone meet here at 8am and bring your hammers the beer is free”. To build even a simple playground fort there is red tape to deal with.

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central “Those who decided they didn’t want kids can later change their mind and all the plumbing is there ready to go.”
Not always, and not after menopause.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk

This was me being a little bad, because I was going to mention them…but decided to leave it out and see if that’s what you were going to go for. ;-)

Well let me give you an example. How about the law against brother-sister marriages, father daughter marriages, and so on. The problem with this example is that we recognized then, and now, that sex is a factor in marriage. But the thing is, when we talk about laws forbidding marriage, we see how it’s about citizenship and who gets it and who shouldn’t. First, of course, the limitations that these laws imposed were extremely limited – and therefore, not a constraining. But we didn’t want to approve of that relationship because it was unchristian (and yeah – icky). And of course, there were the problems….with…the children.

However, the example actually demonstrates also how little it has to do with children – because the laws will stand regardless of the fact that the one of both of the siblings may be sterile.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Ah a test. I love it.

This whole issue of being sterile or choosing not to procreate is a red herring and we both know it. The government has no place getting into medical records at that depth. As a lawyer you must know this.

As for marriage being just some union with no particular reference to the family, I quite simply disagree and can’t find any reason for government involvement if that is the case. Why would we provide some financial (tax, income, inheritance, etc.) relief for couples just because they want to be together? Hell my grandmother lived with her sister for 60 years after my father went into the service. They shared a house and all financial burdens. Some sort of civil union would have created quite a benefit for them (although I’m sure they never would have done it, different generation). Is the concept really about having sex and that’s why the government is involved? I just can’t believe that nor have you provided anything to substantiate that. That leaves me with the family.

I’m lost on your citizenship thing unless you’re going back to the ‘slave days’.

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – it’s not about whether or not they would research it or know, it’s that even if that were the case, the marriage will not be allowed. A stated reason will be because of the potential harm to future children, however, it is not that the brother-sister marriage is forbidden because of that – in fact, it is more that the reproductive elements are a red herring for the main underlying reason that the concept of sex between brother and sister is taboo. It’s where marriage is used to regulate the sexual morality of the population, at least now in the Western world.

But we get off track when you say that there is no particular reference to the family – it is indeed about the family. However, the concept of the family has significantly transformed at time, and as people have gained more freedom, they’ve begun to define their families more and more for themselves.

And now you get to the very thing that I think we should talk about – there was in fact a case in the U.K. where two elderly sisters lived together and one was covered by health benefits that she wanted to get for her sister. Indeed, they, as your grandmother and her sister, shared a deep abiding love and, more than any other “married couple” were sure that they were going to be with each other and only each other for the rest of their lives.

Many of the arguments that people use against SS unions, in fact, go back to the incest example. They shouldn’t be allowed, they say, because we don’t allow brother and sisters to get married – but why shouldn’t we allow same sex siblings to get married – they won’t ever reproduce. And through this we do get the suggestion that marriage is about the regulation of sex. Women got their citizenship through marriage to their husband, and through that dependence the husband was assured her sexual dependence on him. Many of the laws of the state regarding marriage, therefore, were set up to prevent the sexual relationships that were deemed unsuitable. Sex was controlled and pushed into the bedroom, free love was criticized. When you consider that for many years adultery for a woman was a crime, where for a man it was not (although a woman he had sex with may be charged)...you see how sex plays into it. And note that the age of consent for sex is also legally connected to the age of consent for marriage.

The problem is that this is where our ideas of sex, morality and marriage get all jumbled. Although sex results in reproduction much of the time, at this point we’re completely free from that when we want to be. Sex for pleasure was immoral, and the state could not endorse immoral relationships. It also would get religious and enforce laws against individuals whose sexuality was deviant.

The reason why it feels like we’re losing a grip on marriage is because we’re actually more free, honestly. But where we are, we are also still allowing the government to demonstrate approval of sexual behavior of one type or another through it’s marriage laws.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I disagree with your statement that there is no across-the-board effort to criminalize women “who drank too much, took drugs while pregnant or smoked during pregnancy.”

Utah tried to criminalize miscarriages by passing a bill that would make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless behavior.” Under that standard, all you would need to show is that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose the pregnancy. Smoke too much? Drink too much? Go to jail! Fortunately, the bill was amended to get rid of that part of it, but the attempt did happen.

In Iowa, a pregnant woman became lightheaded and fell down the stairs. While she was being evaluated at a local emergency department, she told a nurse that she was considering abortion or adoption. The result was that she spent three days in jail for attempted fetal homicide. The district attorney didn’t prosecute, but he very well could have.

The latest idiocy comes from a Republican state legislator in Georgia. Representative Bobby Franklin, who most Georgians admit is batshit insane, proposed legislation that would define abortion as “prenatal murder” and require a death sentence or life in prison. Miscarriages would only be excluded if it could be proven that there was no human involvement whatsoever. Great. All miscarriages would be investigated.

I happen to think that government should stay out of private issues such as marriage, consensual sex, and childbearing.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

I don’t disagree with most of what you’ve said. There points where I don’t quite see it the same way. We are struggling with the whole concept of marriage. Most of the dispute revolves around the government involvement. Tax breaks, property rights, inheritance, that sort of thing. Those advocating gay marriage (or civil unions) have a view that marriage is simply two loving people that want to share a life. In that respect they should be granted all the same privileges as any other couple. No dispute there. But it doesn’t explain why the government would have any involvement in that process.

You make some points about government trying to enforce sexual conduct laws, which are valid but I see as a separate issue. The laws governing marriage are in a lot of respects outdated. They are based on (should I use the term, hell why not) traditional roles. The man would work to support the family and the woman would stay home and care for it. This prompted the community property laws, the joint tax returns, the inheritance laws, and most of the rest of it. We no longer have traditional roles. The woman may be the breadwinner and the man stays home or more commonly both will work and get a child care person. Hell, even both stay home and no one works. So what was once considered traditional no longer exists.

The same is happening with the marriage contract. Marriage traditionally (there I go again), was to start a family. And even in the world today, the vast majority of marriages end up producing children. This has diminished but not to an alarming degree. If we now say that marriage is not about the family but rather merely two, three, or more caring or consenting adults, then why would we want to provide government incentives to get married? There’s nothing left to base those incentives on. We are all the way back to providing government sanctions for sex we approve of and limiting that which we do not. Legislating morality and it sounded like you were against that.

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk The government wants to regulate everything. That is just the culture we live in. And I find it very ironic that the party that is allegedly for smaller government is the party that is more often in favor of the government regulating bedroom behavior and marriage. I mean, correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t most of the states that have laws that practically prohibit homosexuals historically somewhere between Right-leaning and “diehard Red state”?

Your last paragraph seems to omit the same-sex couples who start a family by adoption or surrogates, but it raises a valid point; what the hell is marriage really about in the first place? I know mixed-sex couples that are married solely for financial reasons (often health insurance), same-sex couples with kids, and other things that would be considered “non-traditional”. In fact, a traditional family is something I rarely see. Of course, the most common “non-traditional” units I see are those where parents divorce and either do it single-parent style or remarry, but traditional marriage is ”‘Til death do us part”, so I count them as “non-traditional”. Still, why does the government really care?

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

I would like to give the point about bedroom behavior but it’s just slightly off target. Yes, past laws governmenig bedroom behavior have been predominent in the ‘Bible Belt’. But it’s not like democrats want to get out of that business, they just want to make legal the popular trends. So Homosexuality is OK but not plurality. Two men should share benefits but not brothers. They aren’t trying to get out of the business of regulating sex, merely modifying those regulations as they see fit.

I keep ending up with the same thought. I can see a reason for government involvement to promoite a stable family. I can’t see a reason for government involvement to regulate sex. If you have some resonable scheme for differentiating those couples that are likely to create a family, other than the marriage contract, I would happily jump on board. Otherwise, we’re merely trying to promote sex that we deem appropriate. IMHO

jerv's avatar

@Jaxk More proof to my mind that we really shouldn’t bother regulating certain things. America loves writing rules, and we have an entire industry based on nothing but finding loopholes in those laws to make them mean what we want, not counting the government wose job it is to make and fix those loopholes, often with no grasp of the practical implications of their actions/decisions. For the moment, I will merely mention the difference between theory and practice and the Vanna White veto as opposed to digressing in my normal ADHD style, though I must mention them as examples of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Maybe the reason is that we are Americans and, regardless of affiliation, regulating is what we do?

Jaxk's avatar

@jerv

Wow, I didn’t know that. That veto power is way over the top. What the hell were they thinking when they passed that? Way too much power for either a Democrat or Republican governor. Sure it was the thirties and times were tough but really. Anyway, I’m aghast, thanks for that link.

As for regulation, you know my stand. A little more thought and a lot less regulation.

CaptainHarley's avatar

INDIVIDUAL numbers, for God’s sake??? WTF??

iamthemob's avatar

@Jaxk – the actual language of the law is one of the reasons why I roll my eyes whenever anyone bitches about the law being written in too complicated a manner and that the legalese is there simply to confuse normal people.

This is the perfect counter. The law was very simply written, and the intent was probably one of efficiency – all it says is that the governor may pass the law or any part of the law, and the portions of the law not signed by the governor do not pass into law, while the others do.

The probably didn’t want little quibbles to hold up budget laws. Of course, writing the laws simply means you get the loopholes…

Of course, I’ll note that the law also provides that the legislature can, as elsewhere, overturn the veto…with a ⅔ majority. I don’t know from what was provided whether the ⅔ must be applied wholesale or it can’t pass, or whether they must vote on each provision and get ⅔ for each veto.

To be honest, I don’t know if that’s such a BAD thing. If it’s a piece by piece veto overturn, it increases the likelihood that we’re going to get the most majoritarian and supported provisions of the budget.

Jaxk's avatar

@iamthemob

Thanks for that update. I do struggle with the notion that it would provide the most majoritarian portions since it is so difficult to overturn. It sounds like whatever the governor wants he gets. Up or down. This really is what scares about the presidential line item veto. Whereas I would love to see all those pork and special interest riders stricken, it leaves way to much room for abuse. We seem to scream about the filibuster but if you up that to a ⅔ majority, nothing gets passed. Too much power in one person.

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