Friday, January 14, 2011

What is the point of marriage?

I ask this from the perspective of the government. Why does it have any role in marriage? Why does it care the bonds and contracts people make, as long as they are not exploitative or illegal?

I've thought that marriage should be entirely ignored by government and left as a religious or cultural institution, to be decided however they feel like, and let government instead have a completely independent system of civil unions. If a church or society wants to define marriage one way or another, let it, the government should have no part in it at all.

But that still leaves the two-person bond recognized by government. Why should there be this special contract and legal arrangement between two people and only those two people?

That's a question I've never seen come up in the debate over gay marriage, but it seems critical. If we don't define the purpose of marriage/civil unions, how can we decide who can marry and how? It would be like trying to design and pave a road, without deciding where it should go.


Yaggle said...

To me, marriage as far as the government is concerned is a legal contract to share assets. This way, if a wife or husband spends their life taking care of the house, yard, and children, they have legal rights to the money the other person makes, even if there is a divorce, since they will have no career, but they have spent their life contributing to the marriage. Marriage is a lot like social security in that it is a necessary evil. If either one did not exist, you would see a lot more old people with no money living in boxes on the side of the road.

Dan said...

I agree with Yaggle. Why should government be concerned with what sex the two parties are? Why should it matter?