Here in my home state, the gay marriage question has bubbled up again. Our state's supreme court did what any group of politically connected lawyers are capable of and performed the modern equivalent of looking at the entrails of an animal and divined that the state constitution mandated same sex Holy Matrimony. The antis organized and have fulfilled requirements to get the question on the ballot. The legislature has to certify it to get it on the ballot and with all the courage that our Great and General Court (the official name of our collection of foxes in the henhouse) can muster, they are doing their best to adjourn before taking up the question.*
Jane Galt in an old long post has convinced me that gay marriage would ruin straight marriage. Or she would have if marriage were not already in trouble. The problem is that someone has already went off the road and drove the hummer into the living room. Marriage ain't what it used to be, or the number taking "advantage" of the institution, anyway.
Nationwide, you have your social conservatives wanting a constitutional amendment to save marriage. Yeah, that'll work. Nationalizing marriage will solve things such that someday a Republican pres will be working with Teddy Kennedy on the "No Marriage Left Behind" bill.
The reasons behind the decline in marriage rates are beyond my poor powers of cognition. Do I want to "save" marriage? My natural inclination is libertarian in most parts. Where it is not libertarian, it is reactionary. Though no family is perfect, I remember mine as being most often happy. There was sibling rivalry and the feeling of oppression when not getting one's way, but I look back on it and hope I am doing as well for my children. The other aspect of life that causes one to be a reactionary is the sure knowledge that almost all ideas are wrong. Those that are right are few and far between and prove themselves by standing the test of time. There may be some or many who enter into legal gay marriages and attain long term bliss, but oh to be a pioneer in the field of same sex divorce law in these times.
Still, my libertarianism is always bubbling up as is also the desire to give people what they want til it hurts (them). There is also recognition of the fact that no one, male anyway, should ever commit matrimony here in the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts without a pre-nuptial agreement. If it has come to that, that there is no real default option and even normal average walking around straight couples are well advised to write a contract, then maybe it is time to take the state out of marriage altogether.
I know this does not fly with the contending parties, as they both want to marry the state more than anything. When someone wants the state to enact their vision, it is time to be suspicious.
The causes of the decline in marriage will probably accelerate and maybe gay unions will help that along. There are too many other factors that are at work and governmental fiat will not stop it. If Ray Kurzweil is right and we are going to live near forever, til death do us part becomes meaningless. Even if his singularity stuff is only partially right and we will be able to live healthy lives past a century, then who will want to commit at twenty five to what could be over a hundred years. Maybe some couples contracting for twenty five with renewal options and and equitable division of assets is an answer. Few would want to be part of a couple that did the no one put asunder forever thing if one could contemplate a union celebrating the three hundredth anniversary.
There is, of course, the guys just don't want to commit at all stuff that is thrown about. Having myself committed to the institution of marriage was probably the smartest thing I ever did other than not buying a nehru jacket. Fred Reed(#150), however, has put why most other lads are not rushing to the altar business as well as anyone could.
"You don't understand how bad the divorce courts are. You probably don't know what "imputed income" is. You think that "joint custody" means "joint custody." Think again. Quite possibly you will have to support her while she moves with your kids to Fukuoka with an Air Force colonel she met in a meat bar.
In short, marriage often means turning twenty-five years of your life into smoking wreckage. Yes, happy marriages exist (I personally know of one) and there are the somnolent marriages of habitual contentment or, perhaps, of quiet resignation. But the odds aren't good.
Permit me an heretical thought. In an age when neither sex economically needs the other, in which women do not need protection from wild bears and marauding savages, not in the suburbs anyway, perhaps marriage doesn't make sense, at least for men. The divorce courts remove all doubt. A young fellow might do well to stay single, keep his DNA to himself, pick such flowers as he might find along the way, and live his life as he likes."
Thus getting the state out of the way so that individuals can find their own "compelling" reasons to tie the knot will probably work out a lot better as time goes on as the default position is becoming more and more obsolete.
What about polygamy? Well, what about it? Anti gay marriage people will tell you that if gay marriage is allowed so will polygamy. The gay marriage advocates have taken pains in Massachusetts to say that will not happen. I think the antis have it right here. After all if Adam and Steve have successfully argued before the court that they have the right to live the way they wish, then why not Adam, Eve and Sue (a boy named or otherwise). Of course, there are arguments that polygamy exploits women and all that. if a women reaches adulthood and signs a contract that exploits her, that proves only her stupidity, and what if is the guy who is getting snookered? I am not interested in making democracy safe for the stupid. I would think that the normal rules on contracts made under duress would obtain. Marrying a fourteen year old like the renegade Mormons as your third wife would be asking for trouble, when a lawyer** gets a hold of her (or him, noting the rash of teacher/young stud pairings) and asks,"Did you know what you were doing and would you like to be free with a hefty settlement?" Certainly, almost anyone can answer that question, no (maybe not the free and hefty settlement part). I aver I am lucky to be married 20+ years, but time has proved I did not know what I was getting into.
Some people are even worrying about polyamory and its effect. Some people don't have a life (like bloggers).
So I am willing to see the Commonwealth of Massachusetts amend its constitution to read that the state has no law on unions of individuals other than to enforce contracts freely made and that the contracting parties are responsible for the smooth operation of the contract and anything resulting thereof (such as children). Obviously, a better stylist should write the amendment, but not a lawyer.
This is suggested with the sure knowledge that it has no chance of ever being enacted. For where my countrymen and women do not want to marry the state, they oft wish to be its children. They look on the government as ultimate father and mother to succor them when their lives have taken a bad turn. Nowhere more so than here in the Peoples Republic. That lousy trailer FEMA will give you three weeks after the hurricane subsides does not alter the mindset Having to write your own contract and think about it will seem too much of a burden to most people.
I intend to just sit back and watch. After all, there are so many other icebergs out there, what with social security, tight energy supplies, immigration, a forever war on terror. I can't solve 'em all. Gay marriage will have to take care of itself.
*The previously blogged about Governor Romney plans to recall the legislature to make them vote. Romney can't be bothered to spend much time here anymore as he is running for the presidency. The best way to do that in the Republican Party is to run against Liberal Massachusetts. One would expect no less of him.
**I know of no one who has ever said, "You know the problem with Massachusetts is, you can never find a lawyer here."