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Monday, September 9, 2013

Moving to Marriage Privatization - First Steps

Whenever one examines the issue of marriage privatization, there are indeed a lot of practical problems associated with its implementation. What we need to do to prepare for the day when we are ready for marriage privatization is to prepare the legal infrastructure for it. And it is going to take some time.

One popular argument opposing marriage privatization is that governments would have no way to distribute couple benefits and divide assets and settle custody issues in divorce when marriage is no longer set in law. Some even said that there would be difficulty applying domestic violence laws. But this does not have to be the case, and certainly is not the case everywhere.

Analyses pointing out the above problem usually come from a purely US perspective. In the US, politicians have had an unhealthy obsession with marriage as enshrined in law for decades. But in Australia, for example, as I understand all the above is applied equally to married couples, couples in civil unions or registered relationships, and cohabiting de-facto couples who have been together for more than 2-3 years. The system in Australia has been functioning like that for a long time and it hasn't collapsed - there is no reason why the US cannot follow suit.

Another thing we can do is to review the benefits given to married couples and decide whether to tailor them to needs so they can be more justifiable rather than sentimentally attached to legal marriage. For example, I firmly believe that tax breaks for married couples should only apply to those couples who have children under 21. It should cease to apply to childless couples or couples who only have adult children, because they do not need such a benefit, and it would be unjustifiable to provide it to them without providing the same to any two single people who wanted to share in it.

Whilst we are trying amend marriage legislation around the world in pursuit of marriage equality, the wording of the legislation can also be considered. Canada has put it best in my opinion. The Civil Marriage Act of 2005 states that 'marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others'. Notice it says 'for civil purposes' - three words I believe should be in the marriage acts of every country.