Re: There They Go, Bad-Mouthing Divorce Again

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From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Tue Sep 12 2000 - 11:13:14 PDT

Lisa Dusseault wrote:

> Much as I'd like to agree with the pro-marriage sentiments, I'm dubious
> about the "I know n couples who are truly happily married" statement.

Bit of a tangent here, but...

You know, I totally believe in the notion of lifelong relationships, but I've
come to the conclusion that "marriage" as such is an antiquated, useless,
inflexible, incorrect, and painful concept. It's a throwback to an ugly time
(well, all of history, really) when women were virtually enslaved by men; it
was a marker of sorts by which a man indicated "this woman is my property."
Clearly, that's not what it's all about today, though.

Today, marriage is a template contract which, in essence, specifies a bunch of
liabilities and responsibilities on the part (primarily) of the man. In most
ugly divorce cases, the man is the one whose lunch gets eaten. (What the hell
is alimony about anyway? I say, if you've got to divide assets in cases of
dispute, average *each* individual's wealth accumulation over the time in
question, find the ration of least / greatest wealth accumulation, and let the
person who contributed least financially have that fraction of the assets.) At
any rate, whichever way direction the liability flows, do we *really* need some
standardized contract? Can't we all just negotiate our own contracts? Why do
we even need marriage as a legal institution at all, anymore? Why in the world
is the government in the relationship game? Why should governments, or society
at large, specify by default any financial, sexual, or other obligations in a
private relationship?

What about the following: let's say I'm in what is generally a happy, lifelong
relationship with two absolutely wonderful women. (Or rearrange the gender
configuration as you see fit.) We all live together. We've got our own
agreements, "contracts," etc. that are mutually acceptable among us. "We" all
have a child together; of course, only two of us are the biological parents,
but that's beside the point. Let's say our child grows up happy, healthy,
intelligent, well cared-for, well-loved. Why can the government confiscate the
child just because the parents have chosen to live in a non-mainstream
multiparty relationship? The only "endangerment" to the child is some threat to
the child's "moral stature," i.e. there's a risk that the child might grow up a
bit more tolerant or open-minded about what loving relationships mean than is
apparently accepted by the mainstream.

And why the hell do we treat individuals involved in marriages *in any way
differently* from others for tax purposes, either on a positive or negative
basis? Why are couples who are legally recognized as marriages exempt from
having to testify against each other in court proceedings? Why is it possible
to "default" into a state of legal (i.e., common law) marriage just through
living arrangements?

Why all this special-casing? Can't the government figure out that "all men are
created equal" --- given the assumption that "men == human beings" and not "men
== males" --- *requires* that we *absolutely* refuse to recognize people as
anything other than generic individuals before the law? Can't we as a society
realize that our own prejudices, morals, etc. are *ours* and don't have to be
inflicted on everyone else in order to make society work? Can't we just all be
a little bit more tolerant?

While we're on the topic: is it just me, or does anyone else perceive serious
legal imbalance in the way society treats relationships between men and women
even outside of the context of marriage? All of our laws in that regard seem to
inevitably treat women as the lesser party, the potential victim, the person
without control of the situation. Case in point: paternity law, and all the
hooplah over absentee fathers, child support, etc. In the case of an unexpected
pregnancy, *all* the ability to decide how to proceed resides in the mother,
however the father is subject to long-term financial burden purely on the basis
of the mother's decision. I'm not talking about a case where the couple decides
to have the baby and the father leaves later; clearly, in that case, the
decision was shared, and so the responsibility should be shared as well. But
what about the case where the father-to-be does not want the child, but it's
purely the mother's decision? In my opinion, a pregnant woman who decides to
have a child without the consent of the father is deciding to accept all
responsibility for that child's life, financial and otherwise.

People are people. The law shouldn't recognize, speak to, or institutionalize
in any way any differences. Contracts must be explicit, binding, and mutually
acceptable. There are no default contracts.

Just some blather,


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