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Friday, February 03, 2006

Gay Marriage Debate Resolution

I have the cure for the gay marriage debate.

It was former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who said the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. Fact is, it has no place in our personal relationships either!
I’m not advocating abolishing the institution of marriage, but I do believe it should be divorced from the political and legal spheres.

People get married for all sorts of reasons, most of them wrong. They marry for taxes, for money, for security, for acceptance among their married friends. People are wed for family ties, for chances to live in democratic countries, for fame, for a lot of reasons other than love.

Marriage originated with the religions of the world. Until the last few centuries it remained in the sphere of the church. Somehow, even though church and state are supposed to be separate, marriage spilled over into the public realm, where it has become so entrenched as to become a civil contract.

The reason marriage became a civil contract is because people started circumventing the church in order to get out of marriages they no longer wanted to be in. It became more deeply entangled in civil law when people began to fight for compensation for time spent in marriages.

Today marriage takes up a good chunk of our courts, our law enforcement and our politics, a strange turn of events considering it was originally a religious right.

Removing it from the civil sphere would free up courts, police and put a lot of divorce lawyers out of work. It would allow those resources to be spent on larger issues, like the preservation of our environment, civil liberties, health and a myriad of other concerns that seem to be on the back burner while we go round and round, as a society, trying to determine what the proper definition of what was initially a religious contract should and should not be.

Personally, I don’t care if my neighbour has one wife or five. Nor do I care if the two guys next door have been declared married by some church minister. As long as my neighbours aren’t hurting the other people in our community, I don’t really care what goes on in their house, and the goverment should care even less.

Under civil law there are plenty of provisions to protect people who enter into written and verbal contracts with one another. Common laws can sue one another. You can sue me, and I can sue you, we can do that whether we’re married to one another or complete strangers. Having marriage as some sort of special state over and above the law, but bound to it, is not just unnecessary, its silly, and its discriminatory.

Married people get special consideration under the law, consideration that bachelors and spinsters don’t get, and all because a piece of paper somewhere says they’re married.

I think its time to put marriage back where it belongs, in the church. And for those who are not church going, marriage should be put back where it belongs, within the confines of the homes of the nation.

When two people are married, they’re married to one another. They’re not married to me, or you, or the other people in their neighbourhood. They’re married to one another and that’s where it belongs, between them. It does not belong in civil law because its nobody’s business but their own.

Again, I’m not out to denedgrade marriage. Simply put, I believe it is something very special, and being special, it does not belong in the public sphere, it belongs in the warm hold of those people who are in committed marriages.

Some will say I am trying to lessen marriage, to put it down, but not so. What hurts marriage is the partner who’s down at the bar with his paycheck while the family waits at home, its the man out in the redlight district paying a hooker while his wife is putting the kids to bed. What hurts marriage is the people who get married for all the wrong reasons.

It is not the two individuals who are totally committed to one another and want in some way to honour what they have found and built. To that end I think marriage should be celebrated, hell the whole damn town should turn out and whoop it up when folks decide to marry. But the moment the folks who got married cross the threshold, its between them. Its not a matter for the public to decide, and does not belong in parliament or the courts.


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