I am supposed to argue that the U.S. government should not abolish state issued marriage, and instead, it should keep the legal sanctioned marriage. However, I don’t feel like either of these actions are viable solutions, to the problem of marriage excluding any relationship that does not fit into the traditional marriage. By traditional marriage, I mean mostly one man and one woman deciding to only have sex with one another and live under the same roof, while also sharing finances.
I don’t actually know what would be the best solution to the discrimination caused by legal definitions and social connotations of marriage. But I do have many questions on what others have said and how abolishing marriage could have negative effects. All change can positively and negatively influence people, so often the best solution is what works best for all while making sure the solution seems moral. (Granted, all of these words, like solution and morality, can have different definitions, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from changing its laws from accepting, like slavery, and then condemning it.
Without marriage, how would we define who receives benefits?
If companies did not have concrete ways to distinguish between a worker’s family members and other relationships, then how could the companies determine who should be covered in an insurance plan? How would they measure the commitment in a relationship? For example, should a lover of one month receive his/her lover’s benefits if they claim they are deeply in love?
Leah Howard says, “Since we’ve agreed that there is crap in marriage as well as outside of marriage, why not get rid of the institution and honor the idea that a family is a family (whoever is involved) and provide the benefits and rights that married heterosexual couples enjoy today.”
If we abolish state sanctioned marriage, then what categories do we use to define relationships? Who is included in the family? What can serve as a measurement for recipients of insurance rights? Should the government provide benefits to couples or treat them differently than people who are single? How does the government start to define (and should it have the power to define) who is a couple or who is single?
If the government does start to treat people as only individuals, is it right to treat a women with a child differently than a women, living with another person, with a child? Could we assume a household with two adults (who aren’t married) would be able to give more financial support to the child, so the single household should receive more government help?
Should we reclaim marriage and/or create more labels?
What should we do now that we realize we’ve created the definition of marriage and it no longer can describe everyone? Is just creating new categories a good idea, since that was/is done with ethnicity, and now there are almost endless choices? (I’m not saying we should ignore ethnicity or that it was bad to include new options on the census.)
A part of Third Wave Feminism is reclaiming words that have negative connotations, like bitch, slut, cunt, and girl. According to Tamara Straus, Third Wave feminists would rather use words to describe themselves than have people apply the label to them. Straus quotes Amy Richards, an author and self-defined lipstick feminist: “Yes, I am difficult. I am a bitch. Call me a bitch. I’m going to reclaim bitch and make it my own word, because the word has more hostility when it’s being used against me than when it’s being used by me.” In regards to the question of government issued marriage, people for keeping marriage can argue in the same method as the lipstick feminists. We can reclaim the term marriage to include those left out of the current governmental definition.
Should the state take a more active role in definition and upholding marriages?
Kaitie O’Bryan says, “The contractual method of unions between people is a much more active and intentional way to get married than the traditional ‘sign-here’ document that a man and woman must sign to get legally married now. What if the government took a more active role in preserving marriages?”
Kaitie mentions Mary Lyndon Shanley’s solution of contractual marriage and that it could allow participants to know their own duties and the duties of their co-signers, and thus, participants would be happier. However, this solution assumes the participants’ duties are static. If the contractual marriage does allow changes in duties, then how does it do that? Do couples have to resign their marriage contracts every year? In the contracts, which duties are covered? Aren’t there even different meanings of taking care of someone while they are sick? (Does that mean picking up soup for them or keeping the TV’s volume below a certain number, so the sick partner can sleep?)
Kaitie says, “I would propose state-sponsored marriage counseling.”
(I think marriage counseling is often a good idea for couples, and I whole-heartedly agree people can learn useful things from counseling.) However, would people be willing to pay for it? What about people who claim they don’t need it or refuse it? Will the government force married couples to have counseling, and if so, how could they enforce and regulate the marriage counseling? Is state-sponsored marriage counseling a viable option? And how would people respond, especially considering many people’s responses to the current debate about state-sponsored health care? How much money are U.S. citizens willing to provide?