October 26, 2006

"It is the most ridiculous contract in the world. It's just crazy."

That would be marriage, according to Simon Cowell.
"Without any legal advice you sign this binding contract and you are not sure where you are going to be in 10 years' time."
There's a lot of talk these days about all the legal benefits of marriage, but very little talk of all the disadvantages. When you get married, you don't want some damned lawyer bringing you down. You want to be surrounded by well-wishers in fancy clothes, celebrating you. Later, if things go wrong, as they do half the time, you'll have your lawyer, and he'll explain the shocking and drastic extent to which you invited the government into your personal life.

89 comments:

Edward said...

Don’t pre-nuptial agreements solve many of these problems?

With or without pre-nups, the vast majority of people will always decide that the advantages of marriage far outweigh its disadvantages.

Gay or straight, human beings were not designed to live their lives alone. In fact, they were designed to form intense, intimate bonds, bonds so close that the government has no choice but to recognize them in law.

And there’s really only one name needed for these legally recognized bonds: marriage.

Meade said...

Raising the legal marriageable age to about 80 would solve quite a few problems.

Too Many Jims said...

"he'll explain the shocking and drastic extent to which you invited the government into your personal life."

I'm just glad my son has already been circumcised.

Derve said...

Of course, for those who can stay married, it's not such a bad thing.

And there's a good number who can stick it out for the long run.

Anonymous said...

Some would argue that the onerous nature of divorce and related proceedings are intended to serve as society's warnings that marriage matters and it isn't to be entered into or broken lightly.

Others might say that if you're going into marriage looking for a way out, that might be a good indication marriage isn't for you.

Still others would also argue that if your primary concern in marriage is the legal ramifications, you really shouldn't be getting married.

That's what some would say.

tcd said...

It's not marriage that is ugly, it's the divorce. Get married and stay married. Whatever happened to "'til death do us part"?

Ann Althouse said...

"Still others would also argue that if your primary concern in marriage is the legal ramifications, you really shouldn't be getting married."

But that's the point! People don't think about the legal ramifications when they are entering into marriage. They only see that when they are trying to leave. That's the crazy thing about it. You don't lock yourself into other legal arrangements that way. When you get married -- unless you're the rare sort who gets a prenuptial agreement -- you think it's this wonderful personal commitment between two individuals. Later, when you want to make a personal decision to split up, you have to deal with the government, which suddenly makes it's entitlement to boss you around in your personal life obvious. To get my divorce, I had to listen to a judge scold me for failing to give up my maiden name. It was almost 20 years ago. I'm still pissed. What outrageous nerve! Who was that guy? He was the guy I agreed to submit to back in 1973.

Balfegor said...

"Without any legal advice you sign this binding contract

How binding is it really? My understanding is that if you have two people married, and person A has a huge income, and person B has none, then person B can breach the contract for no particular reason (no fault divorce), and make a claim on person A's income (alimony). Or does it not work like that? (I don't know much about divorce laws across the country).

In any event, person B doesn't end up paying any restitutiom or "expectation value" or anything like that after the marriage is breached. Almost any commercial contract is going to have much stronger consequences for the breaching party.

Even under tort, there's loss of consortium, suggesting that there's a cognizable value to the society provided by a marriage, but the non-breaching party gets no consortium damages for divorce.

Balfegor said...

To get my divorce, I had to listen to a judge scold me for failing to give up my maiden name. It was almost 20 years ago. I'm still pissed. What outrageous nerve! Who was that guy?

I suppose on the flip side, because of the personal nature of marriage, getting scolded about your marriage personally by the judge is rather more offensive than getting scolded for breaching a license agreement or something, even if you pay out gobs of money for violating the latter, and not the former.

Jim said...

Unfortunately, pre-nups don't solve the problem with kids who were not party to the contract and, more importantly, don't keep the man off perpetual Sex Offender rolls when jilted woman brands him as a "child abuser."

You cannot cheat on your woman if you are not married. That's one of the beauties of staying single! Though I'm against marriage for myself, I'm glad it exists to keep all those insecure women off the streets, at least for a while.

Maxine Weiss said...

"I had to listen to a judge scold me for failing to give up my maiden name."---Althouse

And therein lies the problem: Why is the Government involved in the marriage biz to begin with?

We can all agree....we need LESS Government, not more.

A marriage is between three people: You, your spouse, and God. That's it.

Government should get out of the Marriage Business entirely.

However, it needs to be done through a vote of the people.....not activist Judges creating law.

Peace, Maxine

Goesh said...

I wouldn't want to be single again, that's for sure. Once I learned I couldn't boss my wife around, things settled down but the first year was rough on my ego.

Maxine Weiss said...

"Don’t pre-nuptial agreements solve many of these problems?"---edward

Pre-nups are worthless. Another mindless piece of paper ...to be contested at a later date.

I can't tell you how easy it is to get out of even the most iron-clad pre-nup.

Community Property rules.....there isn't a contract in the World, that allows you to bargain away your Community Property rights ---in States that have No fault/Community Property laws.

Peace, Maxine

Derve said...

To get my divorce, I had to listen to a judge scold me for failing to give up my maiden name. It was almost 20 years ago. I'm still pissed. What outrageous nerve! Who was that guy?

Perspective:
At least you got the chance to get married in the first place.

And build a legally protected family.

Your family survives, even if the marriage does not.

A little pain to you for society to look out for the members of divorced families (so it doesn't fall to society to do the job) seems more acceptable to me.

Now think about those couples not like you and your husband, who never had a choice to marry and build a legally protected family through marriage.

They didn't get to have a choice if society would give them a mild scolding or even intervene uncomfortably should the family later split up permanently.

Can you imagine telling those couples they could not be "pissed" (your word) or should not show it, lest society be offended?

Perhaps it is more rational for society to place negative taboos on Divorce and not breaking the contract, if you pledge to provide for each other in old age, sickness or health, be monogamous, live together forever, etc. If not desired, a couple could just structure the contract not to include those things, and then would face no penalties for breaking their words. No matter what the sex of the two people entering into the marraige contract.

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Are you thinking we need marriage LLCs or something? Or just better pre-nuptial agreements?

Marriage does have legal ramifications, but it is different from a business contract. I can't imagine getting excited to hear someone say, "I'm yours forever, 'til death do us part. But, you know, just in case, please read and sign this contract spelling out our rights and obligations."

None of that has to do with being stupidly scolded by an ignorant judge, however. That's just wrong.

Maxine Weiss said...

Marriage is a joke.

One big romp.

Peace, Maxine

Joan said...

Later, if things go wrong, as they do half the time

Ann, I'm surprised at you, repeating this statistical nonsense:

In the United States, in 2003 there were 7.5 new marriages per 1,000 people, and 3.8 divorces per 1,000, a ratio which has existed for many individual years since the 1960s.[2] As many statisticians have pointed out, it is very hard to count the divorce rate, since it is hard to determine if a couple who divorce and get back together in that same year should be considered a divorce, so there is in fact no predictive relationship between the two annual totals. Nonetheless, the claim that "half of all marriages end in divorce" became widely accepted in the US in the 1970s, on the basis of this statistic, and has remained conventional wisdom. Pollster Lewis Harris in his 1987 book "Inside America" wrote that "the idea that half of American marriages are doomed is one of the most specious pieces of statistical nonsense ever perpetuated in modern times."

To establish an actual divorce rate requires tracking and analyzing significant samples of actual marriages through decades, which is not an easy task. Recent US scholarship based on such longterm tracking, reported for example in the New York Times on April 19, 2005, has found that about 60% of all marriages that result in divorce do so in the first decade, and more than 80% do so within the first 20 years; that the percentage of all marriages that eventually end in divorce peaked in the United States at about 41% around 1980, and has been slowly declining ever since, standing by 2002 at around 31%; and that while in the 1960s and 1970s there was little difference among socioeconomic groups in divorce rates, diverging trends appeared starting around 1980 (e.g., the rate of divorce among college graduates had by 2002 dropped to near 20%, roughly half that of non-college graduates).
(lots of embedded links in the original text)

And not to hijack this thread completely, why ever would we be taking advice about something as important as marriage from Simon Cowell? Since when is he a font of wisdom for anything but pop music? (And even that, I'd say, is questionable.)

I think people do consider the legal aspects of marriage quite a bit. They think about changing names, owning property jointly, and how they're going to manage their finances. They think about naming each other as beneficiaries on their insurance. They think about their checking accounts and credit cards. I don't see how they can not think about it, but I suppose they can.

Simon's statement is provocative (and a great blog topic), but he doesn't really know what he's talking about. He doesn't want to get married, and he has created this perfect little rebuttal to shut up anyone who asks him!

Jim said...

A libertarian, I spend a lot of my thoughts, time and money in the attempt to keep the gummint the hell out of my life. I can't imagine that any thoughtful person would willingly submit to such a high degree of gummint control that marriage implies.

But the fact that marriage, like that other great irrationality Religion, is so pervasive in our culture is something I never could fathom.

I would love to hear a panel discussion by Ann and other similarly situated women that covered the reasons why otherwise thoughtful women get married. What is it about the younger Ann that made her thoughtlessly submit to government intrusion into her life? And would she ever get married again and, if so, for what reasons?

People claim that they marry for commitment, sex, love, companionship, family, financial security, etc., but I've lived long enough to see all these virtues in other relationships and the total absence of some or all in a majority of marriages.

It seems the one thing that sets marriage apart is really the submission to gummint intrusion in one's private life that it entails.

In this society it is normal to celebrate a marriage, but I have always celebrated divorces, realizing that a divorced woman is one who has finally emerged from the abyss of brainless disregard for math, science and the other interesting pursuits of life that she fell into as a boy-crazy 14 year-old.

Sean said...

Surely marriage isn't that different from most other contracts in the amount of thought people give it. Most people sign leases and mortgages without reading them and certainly without any knowledge of the law of landlord/tenant or secured transactions. In fact, even if you did read the lease or the loan documents, you wouldn't really know what you had agreed to without the background knowledge about those fields.

Anonymous said...

I got up in front of everyone I know, and everyone my wife knows, and a representative of Divine Providence, and a representative of the State, and pledged to stick by her, as she would to me, until I was dead or a widow. I meant every word of what I said.

I'm amused when people tell me that marriage is a joke because it's just a piece of paper.

The marriage certificate is, certainly.

Perhaps more to the topic: I'm always amazed at the willingness of the general public to invite the government into all manner of their affairs. It's best to picture the government as a moody, idiotic, heavily armed, busybody toddler. You can picture in advance what you'll get from such an entity, so you generally give it a wide berth.

If I had a nickle for every time I had an employee tell me they had to miss work because: "I gotta go to court 'cuz... (fill in the sordid blank)

I don't avoid problems, exactly, but I certainly feel I minimize them by avoiding all the "help."

Edward said...

I’m obviously no expert on prenuptial agreements, but they seem useful when there are significant disparities of wealth between the couple getting married.

Simon Cowell, the celebrity quoted by Ann Althouse, is an extremely wealthy man who, if he married, would almost by necessity have to marry a woman much less wealthy than himself.

Cowell’s complaint about the marriage contract probably refers to fears he has about what would happen to his fortune if, soon after he married, he made the horrible discovery that his wife is not the kind of woman he once thought and that she married him just for his money.

Anyone can make the legitimate mistake of marrying the wrong sort of person, not being fully aware of their flaws. For a wealthy man like Cowell, divorce in such a circumstance could cost him untold millions, which would be galling, especially if his wife had married him under false pretense.

This is why the pre-nup was invented. It can spell out in advance of marriage what the division of property would be in the case of divorce. This kind of (slightly) modified marriage contract could be tailored, if necessary, to the needs of less wealthy individuals.

Having said all that, I don’t think that any of these complications make marriage less attractive. Most people, gay and straight, will always want to marry at some point in their lives, and they’re not deluded in having this preference.

Unfortunate as it was, Ann’s experience with a judge who chastised her for refusing to take her (ex-)husband’s last name is totally unpersuasive.

To begin with, it happened long ago. I doubt that any divorce court judge would treat a woman in such a horribly sexist way anymore.

Also, as painful as the experience was, there are much, much worse things in life to be forced to go through.

One much worse thing that comes immediately to mind: being discriminated against and being entirely denied the basic right to marriage within your own state’s constitution.

Paul Zrimsek said...

What a bit of luck that this man with so many interesting names for marriage should pop up just when the New Jersey legislature is in the market for one.

Sloanasaurus said...

The government should have an interest in divorce and marriage, becuse people who are not married or get divorced tend to have to rely on the government more in the end because you cannot make it through life for too long on your own - it's impossible.

Sloanasaurus said...

The government should have an interest in divorce and marriage, becuse people who are not married or get divorced tend to have to rely on the government more in the end because you cannot make it through life for too long on your own - it's impossible.

Jonathan said...

Jim wrote:
...I have always celebrated divorces...

I take it your parents didn't divorce.

Whatever it may be for the adults, divorce is often a catastrophe for young children, who reasonably interpret their parents' behavior as a betrayal. That is why divorce is a social evil. The money issues are unimportant by comparison.

UW Student said...

Jim, I find your caricaturing of married women as "insecure" and "afraid of math" bizarre. One of the married women I know best was a math major in college, and is a rollicking egotist to boot. Another is getting a Ph.D. with a statistics minor. Two more are astrophysicists; then there's a computer programmer with an MS, an MD with a BS in biomedical engineering, and finally my mother, who studied accounting when she was one of few women in the class.

Also, I think your statement that you can only cheat if you're married is either quaint or charmingly open-minded; quaint if you assume that nobody has sex before marriage; open-minded if by that you mean that your girlfriends are free to shag whomever. Or perhaps that issue doesn't come up much in your life...?

Pogo said...

Just one more knife stuck in that hospice patient, marriage.

Yes, certainly, why get married?
Why not just live my life for me and me alone?

Tell me again why gay people are demanding a part of this obvious farce?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And therein lies the problem: Why is the Government involved in the marriage biz to begin with?

And yet homosexual couples are clamoring to be put into this same stewpot. Be careful what you wish for..... you might just get it.

Harsh Pencil said...

Gosh, I'm always hearing that gay marriage won't hurt traditional marriage, but here we are talking about eliminating marriage as a governmental institution, something that was never close to being on the table before we starting talking about gay marriage.

Ann Althouse said...

Pastor_Jeff said..."Are you thinking we need marriage LLCs or something? Or just better pre-nuptial agreements?"

I'm not making a legal proposal, just an observation about human behavior. People can get themselves into all sorts of trouble by taking actions under the influence of optimism. (I note the war.) It might even be a good thing for most people to go ahead and marry without thinking of what the legal consequences are. But personally, I deeply resented the government's reach into my own life, and yet it was something I volunteered for.

Brent said...

Actually, Joan, Ann unwittingly does major damage by passing around that crap about 50% of marriages will end in divorce.

It would be like stating the "fact" reported in Newsweek 20 years ago that a woman over 40 is more likely to be killed by a terrorist than find a husband,as if it were true today. Every PC person in America would visit the comments section on that one.

To restate your point, two people with a college education getting married today have an 80%+ chance of staying married.

A far cry from lazy figurin'

quietnorth said...

"And there's a good number who can stick it out for the long run."

Derve, you are right-and since people live a lot longer, we there is actually more "committment" to marriage now than ever before.

Fritz said...

Pogo,
I'll give you credit for your honesty. If the left considers marriage such a ruse, then why can't those of us that wish to solidify it's meaning do so? Ann's portion of my generation watered down so much of the meaning, and now gays are trying to use it to legitimatize their sexual behavior. Marriage is a religious sacrament and should be protected by the First Amendment as religious Liberty. I have a deal, we get to keep marriage, and the progressive secularists can make what ever statutory contractual relationship they want.

Derve said...

"I deeply resented the government's reach into my own life "

But only when it came time for a negative social cost through marraige.

Otherwise, you presumably accepted the marital benefits bestowed upon you and were bothered only when you failed to live up to what you promised your spouse (and to society = no serial families, partnership into old age when one of your lives would end, two parent presence if partnering, etc.)

There's no problem with the health or institution of marriage itself, where the parties are committed and capable of keeping the contract. Perhaps if penalties paid to society somehow were increased, but then I don't recall a majority vote on no-fault.

Activist judges!

Derve said...

And it's a beautiful thing to observe, quiet. More beautiful even, with the frailties and imperfections of age. Too rare, imo.

Fritz said...

US Census Data: Only 34% of 50-59 year old women (living) have been divorced. 60-69 27%, 40-49 32%, 30-39 24%.

Ann Althouse said...

Derve said..."But only when it came time for a negative social cost through marraige. Otherwise, you presumably accepted the marital benefits bestowed upon you and were bothered only when you failed to live up to what you promised your spouse."

First, you don't know what we promised each other. You don't know anything about our personal relationship. It's impertinent to think that you do. As to the benefits during the marriage, we paid a large marriage penalty on our taxes when we had the least money.

Ann Althouse said...

You are incredibly arrogant and self-righteous. If people like you were the public spokespersons for gay rights, it would hurt the cause terribly.

Seven Machos said...

The original post is precisely right. Marriage is a huge obligation that sane people would only undertake if they want to have or adopt kids.

jinnmabe said...

On the whole "get the government out of marriage" business, can someone give me a concrete idea of what that would look like or link to someone who does? It seems those who say that are advocating to put everyone in the place that gay partners are in right now, where, for example, they go to the hospital and are refused entry because they're no (legal) relation to the other person. Seems an odd way of advancing the cause of gay marriage.

Not to mention it's completely unrealistic. You think the cultural change necessary to allow same-sex couples to marry is big now, wait til you propose abolishing the legal relationship for everyone. Have you thought about all the parts of life, including the trivial minutia, that rely on the idea that the government recognizes your relationship? It's why the word "pervasive" was invented.

Derve said...

If people like you were the public spokespersons for gay rights, it would hurt the cause terribly.

Whoops! I thought the role of Divorce in society, and what "marriage" means in civil context or otherwise was being rationally discussed; I'm not a spokesperson for anything, just voicing views contrary to Simon Cowell's.

If talking negatively about divorce is off limits because you are divorced, maybe you should not have brought it up in this thread. Apologies for offending you.

Regardless of any taxes married couples pay, I would still maintain that married spouses accepted other social and financially positive benefits, bestowed through accepting the "traditional marriage" certificate -- no matter what a couple personally promises each other.

Otherwise, like gay couples, they could just form a private contract partnership and dissolve it when later wished, with no need for society to play a role.

Divorce is the big elephant in the room that is not being discussed when we rationally talk about the reasons a society would have for excluding legally recognized gay unions.

Balfegor said...

Re: Harsh Pencil:

Gosh, I'm always hearing that gay marriage won't hurt traditional marriage, but here we are talking about eliminating marriage as a governmental institution

Marriage as a governmental institution and marriage as a tradition are two different things. It's like with state religion -- if the state controls your religion, then the outcome of state processes is going to manipulate the character of religion. So many deeply religious people want the state entirely out of religion, for fear that otherwise, religion will be cut down piece by piece by state actors looking to appease noisy interest groups, and once the state has got its iron grip over an institution, it does not willingly let go.

With gay marriage, the concern some of those interested in abolition of marriage have expressed is that gay marriage will piggy-back on a state-controlled definition of "marriage" that will be (and has been) even further whittled down in response to political activism. Put differently, traditional marriage was co-opted by the state, pulling with it all the old reservoirs of emotional attachment and tradition, and now some adherents of traditional marriage are realising that letting the state do that was a bad idea -- state power is going to be used to continue manipulating "marriage" into new forms and conceptions incompatible with what it used to be.

To avoid that kind of political manipulation, just as with religion, there is a pool of people who think the state should be excluded from regulation of marriage entirely.

Derve said...

I don't this this is off topic either, but:

Did it ever occur to you that the judge who you mention scolded you about not changing your name, but was was talking about the symbolism there?

There is a necessary need for compromise, merging of identities, if the marriage is to survive long term. Perhaps he thought the name issue, a rarer one back then, was just indicative of something bigger?

Another perspective is all...

john(lesser) said...

Derve, I thought you were talking about divorce in general? Your apology was obviously disingenuous, as you went right back and implied that Ann did not fully commit to her marriage by not surrendering her name. Jerkoff.

Fritz said...

Ann, ouch! 20 years later and it still gets under your skin. You remind me of my favorite boss. She, like you, was an elder of our generation that blazed the trail of women's rights and sacrificed much. Because of people like you, my wife and daughter will never have to sacrifice for career & family. Thank you. I'm 10 years your junior, I wish you could have entered adult life during a later era.

Derve said...

There is a pool of people who think the state should be excluded from regulation of marriage entirely.

Just wanted to quickly note Balfegor,
I think it's fair to also say that this is still a small pool, and is not representative of the thinking of any one group. Theorists perhaps, at this time.

Derve said...

Your apology was obviously disingenuous, as you went right back and implied that Ann did not fully commit to her marriage by not surrendering her name. Jerkoff.

Read it again.
Don't mis-represent.
THE JUDGE, employing the traditional wisdom in those times, may have been implying that, is what I said. I am sure the Judge was thinking of society at the time, and was not so personal in just being mean to her.

Hey said...

It's not only marriage...

In many jurisdictions, common law marriages are being pushed forward by the legislature (under the radar by "progressives") and the judiciary. You can be deemed married by living together for merely 6 months, and chained to them forever. Many jurisdictions never let any separation be finalised, constantly adjusting support payments based on changes of circumstances, and with same sex arrangements placed on the same plane, you can not protect yourself except by never having any rommate. It is far too easy to claim a conjugal relationship with a roommate, and almost impossible to disprove, for who truly knows what really happens behind closed doors.

Relationships are bad enough, but marriage, common law or formal, are simply dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

john(lesser) said...

"Hey I didn't say it, the judge did"

Wrong.

Bruce Hayden said...

Worse, some states, like CO here, still have common law marriage. So, you just have to hold yourself out as married to the world, and if you legally could be married, you are. But to divorce still requires a court proceeding.

Prenups have their place. When I almost got married a 2nd time, maybe 5 years ago, the woman adamently refused because it wasn't romantic. Well, she had been divorced, and that is even less romantic. No prenups are fine when you are both young and childless. But it makes no sense when you are older, and esp. if you have had kids and/or have assets.

I can't think of how many times I have seen the situation where A+B are married and have kids. Maybe A dies, and B marries C. Then B dies. W/o a good prenup, all of the A+B assets inevitably go to C and his/her kids (or other heirs).

One friend of mine was raised working on his families apartments for free. His parents told him this was his inheritance. But they went through the above, and he got Zip. Zero. Nada. (The one thing that he was supposed to get, his father's ring, had had the diamond replaced by Cubic Zirconium).

Yes, you can often bust a prenuptual - if you are still alive. But it becomes far harder to do once one party to it dies.

Also, for the one with assets, it is a good place to start the negotiations.

Seven Machos said...

I want to talk about some of these rights that people think that married couples have. My hunch -- which has been correct thus far -- is that there are a lot of crazy, wrong ideas out there.

Take hospitals. I was just at a hospital, one of the biggest and best in the world. People were walking around willy-nilly. No one ever asked anyone if there was a family relation with any patient. I find it hard to believe that there is a law that mandates that hospitals must -- under all circumstances -- let certain guests in and must keep certain guests out. I would think that hospitals -- private entities that they are -- are setting their own policies on who is a trespasser and who is not.

Bruce Hayden said...

Hey,

Common law marriage varies state by state. When I was taking the CO bar some 16 years ago, one of things they beat into us was that there was no 7 day, 7 months, 7 year, etc. requirement. Technically, it could be one night or maybe even less. Realistically, it most often takes a bit longer, as part of the proof problem is showing that your family, friends, etc. thought of you as married. Tax returns, etc. help too.

My father pointed out years ago that here in CO the vast majority of common law marriages are unintended. Two people go through the motions to get married, and screw up the formalities somehow. In non-common law marriage states, they could be SOL. Here in CO, a public wedding ceremony is sufficient.

One interesting real live situation: A marries B. A tries to divorce B, but they screw up the formalities, and so is legally married to B. A then tries to marry C in a public ceremony. Legally, at this point, A is a bigamist. However, then B dies, and through common law marriage, A is now legally married to C (of course, if A first dies instead, B inherits, not C).

Final note on common law marriages - I thought that the trend was running away from them. They apparently became popular in the West here because at one time, there were plenty of counties without clergy and judges. (That is also why real estate brokers can legally fill out forms here - there were counties w/o attorneys).

But now, that justification is obsolete. Instead of taking a couple of days to travel somewhere where there was someone who could legally marry you, you only need to drive an hour at most (ok, that isn't always true in Alaska).

Dave said...

Having recently been divorced I can assure all you traditional marriage types that marriage ain't what it's cracked up to be.

It has deleterious effects on finances, it entails a whole set of legal obligations to which, as Ann has pointed out, the parties are not necessarily aware, etc.

Construing marriage only as a religious or traditional issue is woefully naive; marriage is imbued with a motley crew of legal and financial issues.

Makes you wonder why gays want to rush into marriage. As I say, if they want it, have at it. A boon for the divorce lawyers, I'm sure.

Seven Machos said...

Hey -- I highly doubt what you are saying. I doubt that any judge would make either rmember of a childless couple who lived together for six months and then split up pay support payments for any period of time, let alone a lifetime.

More likely, the issue involves children.

At any rate, you should be able to cite an instance easily. Please do.

john(lesser) said...

Seven Machos, spot on. Not matter what side of the gay marriage debate you fall on, an honest person has to admit the hospital visitation angle is a red herring.

Dave said...

"Not matter what side of the gay marriage debate you fall on, an honest person has to admit the hospital visitation angle is a red herring. "

Hospital visitation is not the issue. Making decisions for those incapacitated by illness is. Many gays whose partners were dying of AIDS in the 80s were denied the right/privilege to make decisions about the partners' health care. That, at least, was the original argument. How it got transmorgified into the more general "hospital visitations" I don't know.

I would agree that the issue of hospital visitation is a red herring, but the ability to make decisions for your incapacitated partner is very much not a red herring.

tjl said...

"Tell me again why gay people are demanding a part of this obvious farce?"

Actually most of us aren't. My partner and I between us have 8 siblings, 4 of whose marriages have ended in divorces ranging from unpleasant through nasty to scorched-earth. I'm not eager to win the right to share these experiences.

I agree that the state must be involved in the marital relationship to protect the interests of children, however heavy-handed this involvement may be. Since some gay couples have children, those children deserve the same degree of state protection as the offspring of hetero couples. But if you are childless, why subject yourself to this burdensome apparatus?

Tex the Pontificator said...

Government should get out of the Marriage Business entirely.

Marriages give rise to legal rights and obligations. The only way to get the government out of marriage is to do away with the legal rights and obligations. I've heard some bad ideas in my 58 years, but that's up there near the top.

reader_iam said...

a divorced woman is one who has finally emerged from the abyss of brainless disregard for math, science and the other interesting pursuits of life that she fell into

Weirdest comment I've read anywhere in quite a while, and that's sayin' something. One could drown in that pool of assumptions.

Amusing way to go, though.

john(lesser) said...

Isn't that what a living will is for?

Seven Machos said...

Many gays whose partners were dying of AIDS in the 80s were denied the right/privilege to make decisions about the partners' health care.

Were the sufferers of AIDS sentient? Were they comatose? How long did they know they had the disease? Did they just one day up and get AIDS and go into a near-death state? Or were there days, months, even years during which they could prepare for the eventuality of a long period of sickness in a hospital?

Were they so unsophisticated that they did not take the 12 minutes required by law to create a durable power of attorney?

This is a ridiculous argument. The same thing would happen WITH YOUR OWN MOTHER. Cry me a river.

Pogo said...

Gay marriage wasn't even a consideration ten years ago, now courts are finding evidence, a la The DaVinci Code, of a constitutional right to it.

Welcome to the quick and unstoppable slippery slope. Once granted, the gay marriage issue won't go quietly into the brownstones and suburbs, it will morph into the restrictive laws in Britain and Canada, where religious leaders are prohibited from speaking out against homosexuality by force of law. (Say goodbye to free speech!)

The point is to enforce acceptance of the gay lifestyle not by changing the culture, but by legal means. I wonder how this effort will fare as non-gay-friendly Muslims take over entire neighborhoods in Britain and France.

dave aid: "Making decisions for those incapacitated by illness is."
Bull. Appoint your power of attorney for health care matters, and the issue is solved.

Derve said...

Dave said... Having recently been divorced I can assure all you traditional marriage types that marriage ain't what it's cracked up to be.

Not to quibble but again,
its the Divorce you're speaking of here.

Presumably you voiced no complaints with traditional Marriage, the benefits and expectations, until yours was dissipated.

ie/Marriage doesn't bring pain; people do.

Edward said...

Pogo never tires of making the same outlandish arguments. That last post of his regurgitates arguments that he was making months ago against SSM.

He needs to learn that his arguments don’t become credible by mere repetition.

The fears he brings up in his last post were all responded to and disposed of in Althouse threads from long ago, but here he is trotting them out again.

He knows very well that the U.S. provides much stronger legal protection for both religion and speech than do the European countries and Canada.

He also knows that no church in the U.S. will ever be required to conduct ceremonies for SSM, and that no minister or priest will ever be forced to preach one way or another on the issue of homosexuality.

He pretends that the topic of SSM appeared as a political issue almost by magic just ten years ago.

He knows very well, however, that the broader issue of the rights of gay people is much older. In Western countries, there is a long and noble tradition of political activism to defend the civil rights of homosexuals. While relatively recent in itself, the debate over SSM belongs to this long and noble tradition.

Seven Machos said...

Edward -- You are absurdly correct. Arguments do not become more correct by repetition. It is tiresome when people trot out the same arguments again and again and again, particularly when those arguments have been beaten like a red-headed stepchild and, very often, shown to be false.

Please let your ears hear what your fingers are typing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Hospital visitation is not the issue. Making decisions for those incapacitated by illness is. Many gays whose partners were dying of AIDS in the 80s were denied the right/privilege to make decisions about the partners' health care. That, at least, was the original argument.

The answer is to do a living will/medical directives document and do a durable power of attorney. Sheesh. How hard is that? Want your significant other to inherit your stuff when you die? Do a trust, change title on the assets. Come on... come up with a better argument than that.

A little bit of planning, you know the same stuff that "straight" people who are not married do. Take some responsibility for your life. My Aunt who was not married to my "Uncle" for 25 years and passed away recently took care of all of these details. Her estate passed along quite nicely and there were no problems with the fact that they didn't have a legal marriage license.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"He also knows that no church in the U.S. will ever be required to conduct ceremonies for SSM, and that no minister or priest will ever be forced to preach one way or another on the issue of homosexuality."

Oh really? The Catholic Charities have been ordered to go against their religious principles and are being forced to offer birth control in their health plans.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/03/01/church.contraceptives.ap/index.html

And to avoid being further forced to go against principles they have cease their adoption services rather than be commanded to place children in homosexual households.

Whether that is right or wrong in your eyes is immaterial. The fact is that the government is interfering with the free expression of religious principles. How do you assume that if homosexual marriage becomes legal that the government won't force churches to perform those ceremonies?

peter hoh said...

My favorite New Yorker cartoon on SSM: "Marriage for gays and lesbians? Haven't they suffered enough already?"

Pogo said...

Oh, Edward, you had me at Pogo.

But really, aside from people disagreeing with each other on the long-term effects of SSM, where did you ever get the idea that gay marriage proponents have ever disposed of any of these criticisms?

Doesn't your admission "While relatively recent in itself..." mean that I am in fact correct about the recent vintage of such a 'basic' right? Your 'lineage' concept is a nice attempt, however contrived and tortuous.

"the U.S. provides much stronger legal protection for both religion and speech ..."
Until one 'right' imposes on another. You know, like free association rights clashed with gay rights, and the Boy Scouts lost big. Of course, it will be nothing like that.

"...no church in the U.S. will ever be required to conduct ceremonies for SSM"
I have not run across that argument yet. Thanks.

...and that no minister or priest will ever be forced to preach one way or another on the issue of homosexuality
No, of course not. And the IRS doesn't right now threaten to revoke religious tax-exempt status for discussing specific voting issues.

Doofus.

peter hoh said...

dust bunny, did Catholic Charities fully fund their Massachusetts adoption agencies, or were they receiving some state funding?

MadisonMan said...

Pogo, people are free to speak out now about mixed-race marriages. Why would speaking out about gay marriages, if gay marriages become common, be different? I'm not sure how free speech could be curtailed.

Seven Machos said...

I'm sure Peter Hoh is correct. The government simply cannot make churches provide contraception, unless there is federal money attached.

I once inquired at Loyola University Chicago's infirmary about birth control. I was told, politely, that I should look elsewhere.

Pogo said...

Re: "I'm not sure how free speech could be curtailed."

Probably via "hate speech" and anti-discrimination laws. That's how it was accomplished in the UK and Canada. Why shouldn't judges impose these laws in the same way they've found other rights previously unknown?

* "For example, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ordered the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and Hugh Owens to each pay $1,500 to each of three gay activists as damages for publication of an advertisement, placed by Owens, which conveyed the message that the Bible condemns homosexual acts."
David E. Bernstein, professor of law, George Mason University

Re: "The government simply cannot make churches provide contraception, unless there is federal money attached."

*"The California Supreme Court has ruled that Catholic Charities must include birth control coverage in its health-care plans.

California law requires employers to cover birth control prescriptions if other prescription drugs are covered. Religious groups that have a moral objection to artificial contraception are exempt. Ruling 6-1, the state high court said Catholic Charities does not meet the statutory definition of a religious employer.

The court noted that Catholic Charities offers mostly secular services, does not preach Catholic doctrine, serves mostly non-Catholics and hires non-Catholics."

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I once inquired at Loyola University Chicago's infirmary about birth control. I was told, politely, that I should look elsewhere.

I don't know about Chicago, but most likely because you didn't work there they were able to turn you away. In California if you are employed by CCH and they offer a prescription drug benefit, they are required to offer you birth control as an employee. I don't care one way or the other on religious grounds about birth control, but I feel that the religious organization who is sponsoring the plan should have the right to exclude items that they object to on religious principals and not be mandated by the government.

Justice Janice Rogers Brown was the lone dissenting judge. Brown wrote that the Legislature's definition of a "religious employer" is too limiting if it excludes faith-based nonprofit groups like Catholic Charities.

"Here we are dealing with an intentional, purposeful intrusion into a religious organization's expression of its religious tenets and sense of mission," Brown wrote. "The government is not accidentally or incidentally interfering with religious practice; it is doing so willfully by making a judgment about what is or is not a religion."
How I wish that woman could have been nominated to the Supreme Court!!

What should the Hospital do? Only hire Catholics? That would be discriminatory. Not offer a prescription drug plan at all? In the case of the Catholic Charities adoption issue, they could clearly see the handwriting on the wall. Yes, because they were taking some government money there were strings attached. Rather than compromise their principles they have ceased 100 years of adoption services. In the end everyone lost.

All of this has nothing to do with the topic at hand except to point out that the assertion that the government wouldn't force churches to perform gay marriages if they become legal is false. Given the previous circumstances... of course they would.

Edward said...

Pogo: Your IRS and Boy Scout arguments only involve issues of money, and marginal issues of money at that. They have absolutely nothing to do with the fundamental rights of free speech, free association, and religious freedom.

Furthermore, none of your examples have anything at all to do with same-sex marriage per se.

You’re obviously a smart man, and I’m sure I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know, so I must accuse you of arguing in bad faith.

The Boy Scout cases only involve whether the Scouts will be entitled to certain special discounts on a few government services and whether government employees will be able to donate directly to the Scouts in charitable giving organized by the government.

Furthermore, the legal cases against the Scouts will proceed whether or not same-sex marriage exists, because the government agencies cutting ties with them disapprove of their refusal to admit atheists and gays. Same-sex marriage does not change these cases one way or the other.

IRS cases against tax-exempt organizations (such as churches) are notoriously complex, and you’re just being dishonest in trying to reduce all that complexity to the issue of same-sex marriage. You can rest assured that churches opposed to SSM will retain their tax-exempt status regardless of whether SSM becomes legally recognized.

But I’m sure you know that already. You’re just being inflammatory and intellectually dishonest on purpose, which makes your tactics all the more contemptible.

Pogo said...

Edward said "You’re just being inflammatory and intellectually dishonest on purpose, which makes your tactics all the more contemptible."

"Marginal issues of money"
"In a setback for the Boy Scouts, the Supreme Court turned away a free-speech challenge to a Berkeley policy that denies city-subsidized dock space to a Scouting group because it excludes gays and atheists. The court's action lets stand rulings in California and elsewhere that have said cities, schools and colleges may deny public benefits to groups that refuse to comply with broad nondiscrimination rules involving religion and sex orientation."

"Levi Strauss, Wells Fargo, the United Way of San Francisco, and the Bank of America stopped funding the scouts (the Bank of America subsequently restored funding); San Francisco and Oakland schools banned school-day scout programs. Companies elsewhere are joining the bandwagon: in a paroxysm of self-righteousness, Fleet Bank of Providence criticized the scouts for their ban on avowed homosexual scoutmasters while publicly accepting a scout award."

IRS cases against tax-exempt churches are indeed notoriously complex. But they turn on simple matters.
"All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., is deciding whether to fight an IRS summons for the church's e-mails, meeting minutes and letters. The liberal church is under investigation for allegedly making political statements leading up to the November 2004 presidential election. At stake are its tax-exempt status and possibly some heavy fines."

My church, as a result, is too afraid to say anything except "vote". They used to say "vote agaisnt abortion". Now they can't.

"You’re obviously a smart man"
Now you're being intellectually dishonest . And it looks like your comment almost broke the internets.

Revenant said...

Pogo, I'm not sure how your Catholic Charities example qualifies as "making a church provide birth control". Despite the name, Catholic Charities isn't part of, or run by, any church.

Really, there's a glaringly obvious example of churches getting away with practices that would be *completely* illegal if practiced by a secular organization -- the Catholic Church's refusal to ordain women. You expect us to believe that the government will do for homosexuals -- 3% of the population -- what it wouldn't do for the 50% of the population that is female? Pull the other one, its got bells on it.

Revenant said...

My church, as a result, is too afraid to say anything except "vote". They used to say "vote agaisnt abortion". Now they can't.

Of course they can. They just can't do it if they expect to keep freeloading off of taxpayers like me.

kettle said...

I do not think that this should even be an issue. The state should not bother itself about defining ‘marriage’; marriage ought to remain a union sanctified by a religion. On the other hand, if we are going to afford certain legal rights, or perks to people who enter into some kind of long-term pact with each other, then it seems pretty idiotic, biased, hypocritical and undemocratic to proscribe these rights to any adult couples - even to groups - on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or anything else.

Most of the hubub surrounding this issue exists because the legal aspects, which are the exclusive domain of the state; and the sanctity issues which are the exclusive domain of religion, are being merged and blurred on the pretext of an undefinable ‘moral need’, which might be claimed by either…

…But really, why do we care so much about what consenting adults do to get off?

Also:
"But personally, I deeply resented the government's reach into my own life, and yet it was something I volunteered for."
This seems to be a recurring theme in response to this post. Being young and unmarried, could someone elaborate more on what, exactly, this means?

Derve said...

Kettle: It means that in filing the marriage certificate and accepting the benefits, you are accepting the responsibilities of marriage.

If you petition the court to later break the union, you have subjected yourself to legal intrusions regarding property division, and approval of your parenting plan, if there are children. The court steps in at divorce to make certain parties to the marriage are protected, since this is thought to be important to the health of society.

The reason for many marital benefits in the first place is that society thinks marriage encourages stability and long-term care relationships. If you think of filing the certificate as only committing to a short-term private partnership until you change your mind, or are young and really have not thought it throught what you are doing by filing that certificate, it might be best to privately contract and not hold yourself out to society as "married" with all the traditional expectations and social/financial benefits that accompany such a declaration. When people argue that the word "marriage" has lost its common meaning in society, often that is what they mean.

Meade said...

Kettle, I think it means something like:
It wouldn't be a bad idea for every young unmarried person thinking about taking that legal step to first step into a divorce court and make some thoughtful observations. Set aside all romantic notions for a moment to really understand all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Especially if one is marrying for love.

Pogo said...

Re: "I'm not sure how your Catholic Charities example qualifies as "making a church provide birth control"."

Catholic Charities is a nonprofit organization which describes itself as "operated in connection with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento" and its work as "part of the social-justice ministry of the Roman Catholic Church," and was recognized by the Court a "religious entity".

Justice Kennard's concurring opinion stated, "I have serious doubt that the First Amendment...allows California to limit its religious employer exemption to religious entities that have as their purpose the inculcation of religious values, denying that exemption to religious entities...that are organized for the purpose of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, and providing shelter to the homeless."

Thus, the State comes to control speech.

How is the avoidance of taxation "freeloading"? Shouldn't we be encouraging the most minimal taxation?

Are you really a libertarian?

Revenant said...

Catholic Charities is a nonprofit organization which describes itself as "operated in connection with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento" and its work as "part of the social-justice ministry of the Roman Catholic Church," and was recognized by the Court a "religious entity".

Sure, but it still isn't part of the Roman Catholic Church, nor is it a religion in its own right. That's why it isn't a religious employer under California law.

Thus, the State comes to control speech.

I find it funny that you're using that term to describe a situation in which the state can *already* tell everybody what they're allowed to do *unless* they have sufficiently supernatural reasons for not wanting to do it. If I, an atheist, don't feel like paying for my employees' birth control I'm shit out of luck because I don't have any ancient mythology to wave at the judge. Religious expression is given special protections that nonreligious expression is denied, even though the Constitution puts the two on equal footing in the bill of rights.

How is the avoidance of taxation "freeloading"?

Because churches expect the benefits of a government without having to pay for it. That's freeloading. If police and firemen responded to reports of a break-in or fire at a church by saying "so what" I'd have no complaint.

Shouldn't we be encouraging the most minimal taxation?

We should be encouraging the reduction of the overall tax burden while keeping the distribution of the remainder more or less flat. We should not be lowering taxes by letting any entity with enough political clout vote itself a full share of benefits and no share of the means of paying for them.

Are you really a libertarian?

I am unsurprised by your confusion, as you have repeatedly shown that you haven't the foggiest idea what libertarians believe. I don't, at any rate, claim to be pure in my libertarian sentiments, but selective tax breaks and special speech protections are most definitely NOT something libertarians favor. Freedom's for everybody, not just for filthy-rich organizations with lots of followers.

Seven Machos said...

Revenant -- I collegially submit that you seem more like an anarchist. These are all just semantics, though, and we really shouldn't be caught up in them. If you think you are a libertarian, you are. And if I think I am one too, I am.

Pogo said...

I'm with Seven Machos here. I have read quite a bit by and about libertarians over the years. I understand the apeal, but it lacks a moral rudder. Anyway, you seem more the angry anarchist type, or at least your libertarianism applies only to yourself. In other words, if you're a libertarian, then so am I. We're teammates, yet still we disagree. Funny!

Theo Boehm said...

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

Suggested reading for everyone here.

Theo Boehm said...

Now that we've heard from Humpty Dumpty, let's move on.

Just a little personal note related to Ann's experience:

My wife also kept her name after we were married. She did it for professional reasons. She's a book editor. Authors are stressed and confused enough. The slightest change at the publisher, even something so trivial as the editor having a new last name, might cause their heads to explode. My wife just didn't want the responsibility. Plus new business cards cost money.

We know lots of couples in our situation, some of whom have been married 20 years. I've heard of absolutely no one given any grief as a result.

In what century was Ann's judge living? I mean, Goodwife Cohen sounds a little odd, doesn't it?

Was that Judge Sewall you had?

Revenant said...

Revenant -- I collegially submit that you seem more like an anarchist.

I qualify for none of the definitions of anarchist -- I think we need a government, I think many of our laws, rules and customs are a good idea, and I don't advocate violent rebellion.

It is certainly true that the libertarianism fades into anarchism at its outer edges, just as it fades into membership in the major political parties at its other edges. But I generally favor more government than the typical person you'd find at a meeting of libertarians (for instance, I favor a strong military and government funding for mental health care).

If you think you are a libertarian, you are

Given that the term "libertarian" is synonymous with "fruitcake" in the eyes of the public I'm not exactly in love with the label. It just best describes my beliefs.

Pogo,

I have read quite a bit by and about libertarians over the years. I understand the apeal, but it lacks a moral rudder.

It's a political philosophy based on a small set of principles. Morality is something gotten from elsewhere -- there are Christian libertarians, secular humanist libertarians, druidic libertarians, the infamous Objectivist libertarians, etc.

or at least your libertarianism applies only to yourself

As opposed to collectivist libertarianism? :)

Theo Boehm said...

Where's Humpty Dumpty when we need him?