Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Marriage Manifesto, Part III: Where Do We Go From Here?

How does marriage function practically in the real world? A definition free of cultural stigmas and religious doctrine (which has no Biblical foundation) is paramount to the redefining of marriage. I am referring to “marriage” in the legal, not the spiritual, sense as discussed in the previous post. For clarity’s sake, I will hereto refer to said legal union as a “pledge.”

What a pledge is:

  1. A pledge is a commitment. What is commitment? Well, that could be whole other post, but to keep it within Reader’s Digest range: a commitment is a formal intention or agreement to remain partnered with someone regardless of changes in yourself, your partner, or life events. As opposed to, say, a “dating” relationship where you “try each other out” like trying on clothes at JC Penny. A committed relationship means you’re past the try-out phase and you and your partner agree that you will stay together regardless.
  2. A pledge is a public acknowledgement of parental rights/involvement. This one is tricky, as parents or step-parents have different comfort levels of involvement. Currently humans have elected to raise children in a “family” type structure. By default, any pledged partners will automatically be viewed by society as having some sort of authority over these children, regardless of their actual level of involvement. 
  3. A pledge binds financially. This is where the government is needed to stick it’s dirty nose in. Pledged individuals want to provide for each other, to protect each other financially. The government is expected to enforce their wishes in this regard on their behalf should they become unable to. 
  4. A pledge is recognized by the law as a person’s closest kin. Hospital visits, health insurance, probate … All the fun stuff we look forward to dealing with when we partner up with someone. 

What a pledge isn’t:

  1. A pledge does not necessitate sex or reproduction. News flash: It’s optional! 
  2. A pledge does not require that partners are different genders. It’s no one’s business but mine whom I choose my next-of-kin to be. Especially not the government’s. 
  3. A pledge does not necessitate monogamy. Is it the government’s business whom sleeps with whom? Can a single individual pledge to multiple individuals? Why not? We don’t limit the number of children people can have, or the number of reproductive partners, or the number of extended family members. “Sorry, but you've got too many aunts. You’re gonna have to cut that number back. The law doesn't allow for so many aunts.” 
  4. A pledge does not necessitate partners living together. The point of pledging is not to form a Cleaver family. The purpose is to have the government recognize your important relationships the way that you do. 
  5. A pledge does not grant or imply ownership. Ugh. See Part I if you haven’t had enough of this already. 
  6. A pledge does not need to be approved of or recognized by a religion or by “god.” Let the religious bigots have the term “marriage.” Let them define it any way they want. They do anyway. They don’t even defer to the Bible in this regard. Let them have their illusion of meeting their soul mate, and bringing up 2.5 kids. But don’t let them impose it on the rest of us via the government. The government needs to break away from this religious definition and adopt a concept more closely representing how people actually live. 

Author’s note: I in no way claim to be a linguist. My background is in religion, philosophy and psychology. I used the word “pledge” here instead of “marriage” merely to make a point. However, I do believe that a simple change in terminology can make changes in the way people think. True, lasting change.

I'd like to hear what other terms people like for this concept. Post in the Comments: What do you think would be an effective term for a legal "marriage" stripped of it's religious dressings?