Monthly Archives: May 2012

Defending Marriage from the Defenders of Marraige

Marriage is pretty awesome. Aside from getting to spend your life with someone you love and cherish, you get a laundry list of legal and other benefits when you sign on the dotted line:
  • visitation rights and can make medical decisions, unless otherwise specified in a living will
  • benefits for federal employees — many of which are also offered by private employers — such as sick leave, bereavement leave, days off for the birth of a child, pension and retirement benefits, family health insurance plans
  • some property and inheritance rights, even in the absence of a will
  • the ability to create life insurance trusts
  • tax benefits, such as being able to give tax free gifts to a spouse and to file joint tax returns
  • the ability to receive MedicareSocial Security, disability and veteran’s benefits for a spouse
  • discount or family rates for autohealth and homeowners insurance
  • immigration and residency benefits, making it easier to bring a spouse to the U.S. from abroad
  • visiting rights in jail
(ganked from HowStuffWorks because I’m lazy)
I’m probably over-generalizing here, but it’s my impression that the “Defense of Marriage” types out there feel that these benefits are only proper since marriage is the foundation upon which our whole society is built (at least in their eyes) and “sacred” in the eyes of God. Because it’s so important, there should be a big bag of legal perks that come along with it even though those perks have nothing to do with why they feel marriage is “sacred.” 

That last bit is really important because it accomplishes exactly the opposite of keeping marriage “sacred.” It kind of works as long as your church can dictate what kind of marriage the state will recognize. Even then, it’s still a terrible idea to get the state involved with providing legal privileges to your brand of marriage.
First of all, you’re getting the state involved in defining what kinds of marriages are legally recognized. Eventually, your church is going to lose its stranglehold on the government. Since marriage is a legal thing, not a “church” thing, you don’t have any say if the state decides to change the rules. If you’d never involved the state, this wouldn’t be a problem. Your church could recognize whatever brand of union you wanted and the state would have no say in it.
The bigger problem, though, is that be creating legal incentives to get married that have nothing to do with the reasons your church thinks people should get married, you are encouraging people to marry for reasons that have nothing to do with the sanctity of the institution. Citizenship, tax benefits, insurance, etc.-these have nothing to do with some sort of Godly union or being fruitful and multiplying. Even if you keep the state from recognizing same-sex marriages, you’re just encouraging people to enter into sham marriages of convenience in order to get the benefits. 
The best possible answer, for all parties, is for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether. Let the state recognize whatever legal partnerships people want to form and leave the sanctity bit to the churches. The institution won’t be cheapened by allowing same-sex partnerships; its already been thoroughly sullied by getting the state (and business) to offer financial incentive to enter into it.

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Across The Pond

It’s been a busy few weeks and I’m not completely set up over here, but I’ve put off updating this space for too long. Please pardon the dust; we’re still under construction over here.

I was reminded of this typically lovely Penn Jillette monologue the other night. The whole thing is worth watching, but I was stuck on the bit about “believing that Obama is a skeptic and just lying about it” and laughing about how mortifying it is that this is a somehow a good thing. I can’t really argue with the point; I think that most people would agree that politicians say a lot of things that they don’t really believe because, you know, they have to in order to get elected. Of course, we probably all pick and choose differently which things we think they’re lying about, but that another discussion.

As an example, I don’t think the majority of Republican politicians are really as skeptical of science as they claim to be. They have to call global warming “junk science” because saying that it’s “really inconvenient for my donors” doesn’t make for a very good sound bite. Likewise, I don’t think they’re, taken as a group, as math-challenged as they claim to be. The Ryan austerity budget doesn’t work. I mean, literally, the numbers in it do no make any sense. It’s a great show pony in that it hits on all the priorities of the main Republican constituencies, but it isn’t really a budget. I can’t help but think that Ryan and many of the people who have voiced support for this budget know it.

There’s nothing new about any of this.

What is new is that, in these strange days of overheated rhetoric and news networks that exist openly as propaganda arms of a particular party, is that we seem to be electing some people who really do believe all the bizarre fantasies coming out of their mouth. Real, prominent, national politicians who really believe that science is a hoax and that The Lord’s will couldn’t possibly be impacted by, let alone thwarted by human activity (and man oh man, are they certain that they know The Lord’s will).

Remember the early, highly-entertaining Republican debates from earlier this year? You had Cain, Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum in a surreal race to disavow science the most strongly. Romney and Huntsman both looked flummoxed and even a little amused that people who were serious candidates for the highest office in the land were saying such foolish things. Ron Paul looked sounded like a voice of reason. I want you to take a moment and consider that last statement.

I’m not convinced that science denial is going to do us in, though. If these people think that faith trumps science, what makes you think they don’t feel the same way about math? I’ve heard that argument that, so long as the U.S. passes a “godly” budget, then God will take care of us and help us make ends meet. If that doesn’t make your head want to explode, I’m not sure what will. These are the folks who genuinely don’t mind flirting with default because, if that’s what it takes to get their budget (the one that can’t possibly add up) passed, then by all means, do it and let God clean up the mess.

Faith-based math. Seriously.

I guess this is the price we pay for not calling bullshit every time someone gets elected on a pile of lies that we know are lies. We’re just encouraging the nutters who believe that nonsense. We are so screwed.

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