Friday, September 30, 2011

Redefining marriage, again

Just when you thought it was crazy enough to redefine the word marriage to mean two men or two women who live together and engage in homosexual sex acts, a new redefinition pushes the limits of the much-abused term even further:

(Reuters) - Mexico City lawmakers want to help newlyweds avoid the hassle of divorce by giving them an easy exit strategy: temporary marriage licenses.

Leftists in the city's assembly -- who have already riled conservatives by legalizing gay marriage -- proposed a reform to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime.

The minimum marriage contract would be for two years and could be renewed if the couple stays happy. The contracts would include provisions on how children and property would be handled if the couple splits.

"The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationship is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends," said Leonel Luna, the Mexico City assemblyman who co-authored the bill.

"You wouldn't have to go through the tortuous process of divorce," said Luna, from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, which has the most seats in the 66-member chamber.

Luna says the proposed law is gaining support and he expects a vote by the end of this year.

In a twisted, bizarre, diabolical way, this makes sense. If all marriage means, as gay rights activists have told us over and over, is that two people luuuuuuv each other and are haaaaaapy together, then why shouldn't marriages end the second that's no longer the case: no muss, no fuss, no divorce, no harm, no foul? The couple (or group--I'm sure the number part of the definition will be the last to fall) simply divides up the assets, the children, and the family pets according to the prearranged terms of the contract, and goes to find someone else with whom they can share contracted happy temporary conjugal bliss--because isn't that all there is to love, anyway?

Of course, one could imagine the marital tension in homes escalating as the renewal date of the contract looms closer, not to mention the confusion for the poor children as they ask, "Are you and Daddy really married, or only temporarily married? Will I have to go live with Daddy and his new girlfriend when the contract expires?" etc. But nothing--let us say it clearly!--nothing must stand in the way of the selfishness of the adults out there who want to have their wedding cake and eat at the illusion of total radically selfish individualism, too. If homes are destroyed, children devastated, and cultures and societies brought to tottering ruin, we can still claim it as a victory provided that individual selfishness is exalted as the one truly prevailing and lasting human virtue.

And--if I may slightly misquote my talented sister who really ought to publish some of those poems of hers, someday--Satan's hysterical laughter will echo through the empty darkness.


Anonymous said...

Why a 'temporary' marriage license? Why not, instead, a free venereal disease check-up every 6 months, and government run nurseries?

Red Cardigan said...

Public service announcement: I'm banning the postings of "love the girls" owing to his behavior on other Catholic blogs. While he has not violated my comment policies, I have been made aware that his usual method is to increase, gradually, his bad behavior until it becomes disruptive.

Since I've seen this happen on one particular blog, I think just banning LTG now is in everybody's best interests, here. I don't have the time or patience to wait for a slow degradation in posting quality and the running off of other valued regular commenters, who shouldn't have to put up with this sort of thing.

LTG, you are banned. I'm sorry, but this isn't my day job, and I don't have time to deal with people who like to cause trouble.

Morris Howard said...

His comments were a bit disjointed but other than that, no worse than many. The same with that Margusein girl, she had some points. Oh well, your blog, your rules. That is how it works in a free society. The Mexico city govt is accepting a reality. The only people complaining besides those who demand the state do the church's, (correction-THEIR church's) bidding and the divorce lawyers. Personally, I thing government should get out of the marriage business. Legal partnerships for everyone. Keep marriage a socio-religious institution, with no more secular meaning than communion or ordination.

Barbara C. said...

I am beginning to think that Anne McCaffrey is an unrecognized prophet. First, she invented mash-up naming in the "Dragon Riders of Pern" series. In her book/story "The Coelura" the society uses this type of defined-term marriage contract. Now I'm just waiting for the scenario in "Pegasus in Flight" where couples have to have government permission to procreate and if they do so "illegally" then their children are automatically sterilized when caught.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Although my premises differ somewhat, in substance I agree.

The point of marriage is, we all know, or the wiser older folks do, that any two people who try to make a life together will hit some rough spots, so don't even try it unless you are committed to seeing them through together, and first ask yourself, is this person worth it?

P.S. It won't be an issue in the future, but Kimberly Margosein is male.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I enjoy (for lack of a better word!) your writings on divorce. I think that we, as Catholics, need to start talking about the evils of divorce more. I am watching a family member destroy her own marriage as we speak, because she wants to be 'free.' No abuse, husband is not perfect, but who is, not even trying. Just done, off to "do things for me again" as she puts it. Two tween children are the collateral damage. God have mercy on us.

Ann Marie

John E said...

Well, the idea isn't a new one - SF writers like Heinlein had been writing about futures where 'term marriage' was one of many options available for a group of two or more adults to contract the terms of their association.

Here's how I sum up my thoughts:

It is not the business of the State to legislate your Church's view of what is a 'real' marriage.

The legislators of Mexico City see this as a good idea. I think it will be interesting to see how it works out in practice.

You make an emotional appeal to the effect that this should not be done because it is likely to make some children sad.

Are imaginary anecdotes now arguments for or against a social policy? Because I can make up imaginary anecdotes where the couple decides that when their term marriage is up for renewal, they are going to opt for the lifetime contract and have children together.

See - that was happy, which means that the legislation is okay!

The truth is that nobody has any data on what is going to happen as a result of this change. Red thinks it will all end in social collapse, I think it will be a neutral to moderate social good.

Ten or twenty years from now we'll know.

Red Cardigan said...

John E., my appeal is not an emotional one at its heart. Frankly, I think the legislation is beyond stupid for reasons that go way beyond making children sad (and your trivialization of what children truly SUFFER from divorce and the break-up of the home really makes me wonder)--but the real reason I oppose this sort of thing is that it continues to take a perfectly good word, "marriage" and make it utterly meaningless.

I mean, how far away are we from "Marriage is a kind of tax break you get for having sex with the person you live with--but not necessarily with *just* that person!" as a definition of what "marriage" means? And why the hell, excuse me, should any government even give tax breaks for "marriage" if all it amounts to is something so stupid as that?

Red Cardigan said...

Of course, my daughters picked up right away on how stupid this is. "Hey, honey, let's get married! But only temporarily..." is a pretty lame proposal, after all. What, do you buy a fake ring and have the reception at a fast-food place because, after all, you don't want to waste any money on a mere two-year arrangement? What self-respecting woman would ever go for such a deal? These were their comments...

I'm glad my daughters are being raised to respect themselves. Sadly, the kind of woman who would agree to a two-year marriage doesn't respect herself, just like the woman who shacks up with a guy believing that this is the best route to matrimony.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It is perhaps worth noting that John E. is a happily married man -- or at least, based on what he has posted about his dear wife April, he is. I've never been down to Texas to meet them.

One reason I am dubious about the gay marriage claims being pursued through the courts is precisely that all the courts which ruled on "equal protection of the laws" neglected to define their terms before proceeding to legal reasoning. Words mean something. Marriage has a definition. It means a commitment.

There are, in my seldom humble opinion, valid grounds for divorce. It would be hard to set a legal standard for when that point arrives. Where do we draw the line between imperfection and abuse? They ARE different things -- we can all pose examples of behavior well within one category or the other. Real life can be messy to work out.

So, I favor laws that treat marriage as a life-line commitment, with the option to go back to court and secure a divorce. Then, it is up to churches, or even ethical culture societies, to "start talking about the evils of divorce more." That's important -- and it doesn't rest on the statute book for authority.

As John notes, it is no business of the state to legislate what any church's definition of marriage is. Just because you can get a divorce in court doesn't mean it is the right choice, or guarantee that your soul is not in danger -- whatever weight one chooses to give to that consideration.

John E said...

(and your trivialization of what children truly SUFFER from divorce and the break-up of the home really makes me wonder)

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

- The Princess Bride

Mary H. said...

When I hear gay marriage advocates defend their position, they tend to focus on protections and priviledges afforded married couples under the law rather than "luuuuv" and "haaaaapiness". And that's all a civil union does -- legally formalize a domestic arrangement in order to give a household access to a variety of protections, resources, etc.

Practically speaking, civil unions are temporary since they're only binding until they're dissolved. The temporary unions pretty much just cut the attorneys out of the dissolution process, although I suppose they'd still have to get involved if there are custody issues.

If the Catholic Church, especially, and Christians and other faith communities, generally, want to mount an argument that separates "marriage" from "civil unions", then their best bet is to focus on upholding what they believe marriage to be. If it's a life-long union that no man can put asunder, then enough with the divorces and annulments already. The ease with which Catholics can marry and divorce outside the Church any number of times and then still marry within the Church, and the ease with which most people can obtain annulments for the sketchiest of reasons undermines the Church's credibility when it comes to the whole definition of marriage issue.

And, on a snarkier note, if Catholic sacramental marriage is a life-long union, then enough with the Church "renewing" wedding vows, too. If couples want to celebrate mile-marker anniversaries with a special Mass for family and close friends, great. But it looks bad when the Church thinks marriage vows are "renewable" after a certain number of years.

Anonymous said...

It seems more clear to me after briefly reading the responses to Red's proposed point of discussion about term limits and marriage, that herein lies the issue. Marriage in the Catholic faith as a sacrament means something other than the rights that others wish to define as marriage under civil law. Why don't we just come out and say it? Marriage is not the same as a civil union and we cannot argue oranges and apples with avocados and melons.

In the US under the law civil unions provide application and protection to civil expectations and legal rights but have no authority to say a couple are married as in the definition of the Church, but the Church cannot mandate civil agreements, and legal institutions outside of the Catholic Church cannot mandate the definition of the Sacrament of marriage... . Fortunately for children of civil unions, they are children, whether or not their 'parents' are the state or a couple in a temporary or otherwise civil union.

The business of issuing annulments is a reprieve for the spouse requesting the annulment to enjoy participation in the Sacraments in a Church-related legality recognised within the context of the legal definition of legal beneficiaries in a State.

My take on it, after 30 years of marriage and 8 children, my mother asked for dissolution of the marriage, and my father agreed on the grounds that he was married under duress and false pretenses in the eyes of the Catholic Church and his own beliefs. Not a wound to the children to be taken lightly, but a better way to deal with the dysfunction of it all as we children both dearly respect our parents.


Bathilda said...

I'm glad you said that, Mary H. Everytime a couple "renews" their vows at our church, I can't help but roll my eyes and think, "I didn't know that they expire."

It's good to publically acknowelege marriage milestones, though.

Red, this comment from you:

Sadly, the kind of woman who would agree to a two-year marriage doesn't respect herself, just like the woman who shacks up with a guy believing that this is the best route to matrimony.

Is a bit of a head scratcher for me. Is this stemming from the fact that you have daughters and are taking this from a female perspective, or do you think that only women are duped into "shacking up" and premarital sex? I can tell you that there are females who would try to convince men to get a temporary marriage, not the other way around. I would argue that more women would push for it, so that they could get their big, fat weddings, and then have a two year period to see if her husband is trainable. Yes, I've been told that as an excuse for divorce..."he couldn't be housebroken"... I've also heard the term "starter marriage" bandied about by educated women who think nothing of that "first attempt". I believe that there is a book regarding these types of marriages written by a woman.

So I'm not sure what you meant, but I've noticed that you can tend toward thinking that women are somehow tricked by men, when a lot of times, women are very sexually aggressive and not tricked at all into "shacking up". (btw, I don't think that term is really used anymore)

Red Cardigan said...

Bathilda, the reason I tend to see women as victims of this sort of thing is because statistically speaking men are less harmed by short-term partnerships than women are--as lots of women will discover when they reach 35 or 40 and can no longer find anyone with whom to partner, temporarily or otherwise.

But you are right. These days, women are abysmally stupid about this reality and think that they ought to ruin a few men's lives before they "settle down." A wise person might point out that few men will ever really settle down permanently with a woman who has been busy proving herself to be a [expletive deleted] by the way she has treated the men in her life so far.