Monday, February 20, 2012

Marriage

In my more cynical moments, I think the benefit of marriage is to divorce attorneys. Having found myself a marriage advocate for over a decade and having been married for over a decade myself, I simply have difficulty seeing the benefit of it in the modern context. During this time, I have opposed gay marriage, and yet the advocates of gay marriage are convinced that marriage is conferring of some benefit. I don't really want this to devolve into a post on my idiosyncrasies. I do want to advance what I believe to be a communitarian rationale however. Rather than make this post unnecessarily long, I'm going to make some disjointed statements. Taken apart, I'm afraid people will take the opportunity to make pointless arguments on terms I'm unlikely to be persuaded upon. I'm certainly open to arguments, but I'm not likely to be persuaded by appeals to modern liberalism, be they in their Democratic or Republican forms. On the other hand, I recognize that people who come across this blog will be seeking persuasion on those terms.


Here are a few of my general operating beliefs:

  1. The intervention of the court system with over half of all children is not a good foundation for society.  The idea of child support began with the rightful support owed a divorced spouse.  DNA profiling has allowed paternity to be established in cases that would have been thrown out of court in the past due to lack of evidence.  We should return to child support being about the support of the custodial parent, and we should return to legally requiring an established relationship and expectation of support.  
  2. More controversially, adoption should be circumscribed once again.  While it is nice that well off, older couples wish to provide for children they did not conceive, we should not be making it an organizing principle of society.  Society should have the expectation that children will be raised by the people who conceive them.  If they are unable, institutional support should be given to aid in doing so. What should not happen is for children to become a marketable commodity, shipped off from communities that have no use for them to communities where they fulfill needs, whether the motives are pure or otherwise.
  3. Marriage should be about mutual support.  This extends beyond the period for when one is in love.  In specific, that means divorce should involve equitable support for an extended period for the aggrieved spouse.  
  4. I am no longer convinced that gay marriage has anything materially to do with the family and social policy.  There are simply too few gay people and too few gay people marrying for it to matter.  Gay marriage advocates are correct when they claim society isn't too concerned about 60-year-olds marrying and likewise shouldn't care about them.  That said, I don't think gay marriage advances the return of point #3.  I don't however believe opposition to gay marriage will further the return to point #3, and so I don't campaign on the matter.
  5. I think women have rightly perceived the benefits of marrying the father of their children are outweighed by the consequences.  Rather than try to convince myself or them that they aren't making rational choices, the better course is to create social policy that benefits them and their children.  I think that policy will ultimately involve marriage, but I don't see marriage as a magically cure to the detriments at present.
So in the end, I would have to position myself as a family advocate rather than a marriage advocate.  

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