We have a proposed amendment to the state constitution this year that would limit marriage to heterosexual couples. I have found myself on the fence about this. My entire concept of marriage is traditional but I don’t see any way to give gay people the rights to cohabit together, buy property and do all the other things that couples do without opening the availability of the marriage contract to them.
The need for laws child-bearing couples and their issue is clear. For example what to do when a married man couples with another woman and produces children. In the past traditional marriage law was quite clear, the out of wedlock children were illigiti
mate and did not have any rights to inherit. I know that has changed in the last generation.
Marriage laws bring some complications for people who don’t have children. When I married my wife Shawnne in 1997 I was a bit surprised to find out that the agency that doles out financial aid wanted to know my income when one of her daughters was thinking of going to college and not the income of her biological father (and the husband of Shawnne when that that daughter was born). Such is the nature of marriage law that the law assumed I was responsible to pay for this girl’s college education even though she and I never lived under the same roof.
Why to I mention this. I don’t agree with all the elements of marriage law but it is a workable system whose rules are well know and accepted. Could I personally have stayed as an unmarried partner instead of getting married? Probably but our relationship would not have lasted without the bonds that marriage creates. What is good about the sytem is that ending these agreements is relatively simple in todays society.
It might be possible to craft a new set of laws for non-married couples but that would take a lot of work. For example is one member of a gay couple was ill in the hospital and being taken care of by he family (a family that disapproves of the romantic relationship) how could be craft a contract between 2 members of a couple that would bind others to recongnize that relationship? Without the benenfit of a defined relationship such as marriage I cannot think of anything that would for that person’s family to let the partner visit in the hospital. I am sure there are more examples. So, for this reason and others I am going to vote no on the marriage amendment.