A Marriage Proposal
No, not quite like that. Rather, I would like to set forth a proposal to utterly change how marriage is handled in this country. It’s pretty radical, but then, you never know where ideas will take you when you try to think outside the box.
One of the biggest issues facing us today is that of LGBT equality, most particularly in the realm of marriage. Conservatives are outraged by attempts to violate the sanctity of marriage, and liberals are outraged that bias and inequality could still be so deeply ingrained in our culture. Both sides have drawn their lines in the sand, and both sides are attempting to enshrine into law their definition of what marriage should be. This, I think, is a huge mistake.
Let’s think for a moment about the historical origins of marriage. It’s always been a religious and cultural institution — until recently, societies didn’t “need” the government to define marriage. Furthermore, each religion has brought with it a slightly different view of what marriage should be, and what sort of ceremony makes it official. How can we possibly then say that the US government should enshrine one view of marriage (in this case, the Christian view) as the official version, provide tax breaks accordingly, and utterly ignore other religions? The separation of church and state may not be in the Constitution, but the establishment clause most certainly is.
Legal marriage is a completely separate entity from religious or civil marriage. You can go to a justice of the peace to get married, but that doesn’t make you married under Islam, Buddhism, or Christianity. Likewise you can go to a pastor and get married in a church, but without the marriage license, you’re not legally married — nor are you married under Islam or Buddhism.
Moreover, there are other legal issues such as hospital visitation rights, powers of attorney, next of kin, etc., that put unmarried people (both straight and gay) at a disadvantage. So why not take away all those legal issues altogether? Instead of the government instituting a legal form of marriage, simply allow individuals to designate who they want to be their ‘legal guardian’ of sorts, in the event that they are incapacitated. It might be their spouse, or it might be a parent, friend, or other relative. Take away marriage tax breaks for everyone (which will simultaneously simplify the tax code and increase government tax revenues), and basically get the government’s hands off of marriage.
I don’t want to give the impression that I have a trivial view of marriage. On the contrary, I think marriage is too important to be left for the bureaucrats to regulate. America is supposed to be a nation of equality, and I think this is one method for both liberals and conservatives to compromise on the marriage issue in a way that leaves everyone on more of a level playing field.