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A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book The Moral Libertarian Horizon.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Marriage Privatization: The Realities, and How We Can Overcome Them

I first advocated for marriage privatization back in 2004. (Just google it if you don't know what it means) It is the idea that the government just doesn't legislate for 'marriage' at all - it will be a cultural and religious thing not mentioned by law. There are two forms of this movement - one is to transfer all current marriages to civil union status, and transfer all laws associated with marriage to civil unions. I support this form of marriage privatization, since it is much simpler and not socially radical - there is no change to the everyday functioning of society. The other form is doing away with a one-size-fits-all status altogether, and everyone instead negotiates their own martial contracts which are lodged with the government. Somehow I think that's a radical change people won't appreciate.

But the point is academic anyway. The current structure of the law means that there is no convenient way of mutual recognition of anything not called a marriage between different countries, and between different state and federal governments within one country. So we just don't have the legal infrastructure for that yet. Maybe one day we will, but until then, we cannot proceed with marriage privatization in law.

Anyway, that's unfortunate, because I happen to be a staunch believer in marriage privatization. So what can we do? There are several things we can do to slowly kick-start the process.

1) Cultivate a cultural view of marriage that is distinct and separate from the legal status of marriage. One word can have multiple meanings - like a bill can be a bill of parliament or a cutting instrument. Of course, the cultural marriage should be cherished above and beyond how we view the legal status of marriage.

2) Governments can offer parallel civil union or registered partnership systems, open to all couples, with the full set of rights and responsibilities found in legal marriages.

3) Encourage respect for marriage as a cultural institution, rather than as a legal contract.

4) Demand respect for all relationships and marriages, no matter how they are registered with the government, or not.

5) Respect that there are different views of marriage, and celebrate them all. For example, a church may believe marriage really means those married under its laws, whilst gay and lesbian citizens may believe in gay and lesbian marriage even if their church or government does not. Both these views can exist, and co-exist peacefully, we believe.