Thursday, May 18, 2006

On "Marriage"

Today is 18 May 2006.

As the November Congressional elections approach, it seems probable that an increasingly-desperate Bush Junta, as well as the larger conservative movement, will again attempt to inflame ignorance and bigotry by playing the same-sex marriage card.

For the sake of beginning discussion, let’s assume that “marriage” is a long-term commitment between two persons to share their lives. It seems obvious: once humans began to coalesce in more-or-less permanent communities, before the rudiments of what we now call “the State” existed, “marriage” was the product of local social custom. In some cases it was probably formalized by some sort of shaman or “religious” figure, in some cases probably not.

Once society began to evolve more formalized rules and hierarchies, the rudimentary “governments” began to regulate marriage, for the purpose of enforcing social conformity and economic stability. Eventually, only “marriages” were recognized which were formally licensed by the State and solemnized according to prescribed forms. That is, “marriage” was the intrusion of the State into personal relationships.

Hold your horses, some will say. “Marriage” is the creation of a deity. This only holds true in a functional sense in theocratic societies, or societies which employ religion to help underpin larger power relationships. The exact parameters of “marriage” will be determined by the concept or flavor of deity which holds sway in a particular society.

There are those in the United States Empire (USE) who argue that the USE is a “Christian” nation, and that “Christian” norms about marriage must dominate. Of course, the exact content of “marriage” then depends upon which flavor of “Christianity” one wishes to have dominate.

It is patently obvious that the USE began and continues as a secular nation, within which many flavors of “Christianity” struggle to dominate. The Founding Fathers, for example, were predominately deist, believing that a deity created the Universe, set everything in motion, and then left it to its own devices. (The attempts of fundamentalists, evangelicals, etc. to claim the USE was founded in their own image is non-historical: simply self-serving mythologizing propaganda.)

(The contemporary Protestant heresy known as Dominion Theology is perhaps the most extreme example of the latter. Dominionism holds that the God of Abraham and Isaac, as mediated through their version of Jesus Christ, has commanded “Christians” (read :adherents of Dominion Theology) to rule over the world with an iron fist according to their interpretation of “the Bible.” The most extreme of the extreme Dominionists hold, for example, that homosexuals and disobedient children should be stoned to death. Of course, their self-proclaimed literal and absolute obedience to “Biblical” principles is a fraud: none of them advocate obedience to kosher laws and circumcision, for example. In actuality, they see the Bible as a menu from which they pick-and-choose, the precise sin for which they condemn “liberal Christians.”)

At any rate, the wider faction of “fundamentalist Christians” holds that marriage must be defined as instituted by “God,” and consist of a permanent union between one male and one female, the male ruling absolutely over the female. The problem arises in that there are many flavors within this faction, each striving to impose their particular nuances about “marriage” (and everything else!) on everyone else. It is thus reduced to a question of which flavor will hold the dictatorship over all others.

Two options seem to present themselves.

First option: re-organize the USE as a theocracy. Let the various flavors of the various religions fight it out to the death (literally), until one, by force of superior violence, establishes a dictatorship over all the others. To the victor belongs the spoils, including defining and regulating “marriage,” as well as dictating every other element of human life.

Second option: recognize that the USE is a pluralistic, secular society. Let consenting adults define “civil unions” as they freely and mutually wish, so long as they are non-exploitative and non-harmful. Those who choose to enjoy certain social and economic rights (inheritance, common property, for example) would officially register their relationships with the State, defining the terms of their relationships as they will. The purview of the State would be limited to acting as registrar; to adjudicate, according to equity, any disputes arising out of those registered relationships; and to safeguard any minors associated with these unions. Those within these relationships would be free to solemnize them with religious ceremonies, other rituals, or not at all.

People would be free to label their relationships as they wished: marriage, permanent commitment, or a fried egg sandwich. In the eyes of the government, they would all be “civil unions,” and all equal.

Naturally, the contours of some of these civil unions would be repugnant to some: same-sex unions, plural unions, etc.

But this is what it means to live in a free society, rather than a dictatorship.


Anonymous La_Libertine said...

Ted Kennedy (true patriot and one of my heroes) had this to say today:

"This so-called Federal Marriage Amendment should really be called the Republican Right Wing Anti-Marriage Amendment. A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, domestic partnerships, and other efforts by states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law. It's a vote to impose discrimination on all 50 states, and deny them their right to interpret their own state constitutions and state laws. A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry -- pure and simple. It makes no sense for the first time in our history, to amend the Constitution by writing discrimination back into it..."
more at:

10:11 PM  

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