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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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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marriage Privatization Just a Name Change? It's Much More!

Marriage privatization, as a term, simply means that there should be no references to the word 'marriage' in law. There have been many approaches suggested, but I would suggest going for the most conservative method: changing 'marriage' to 'civil union' in law, and perhaps also reforming the law to give equal rights to non-registered cohabiting couples as is already the case in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

This approach has been criticised for just swapping one term for another. But it's a matter of perspective. Marriage will always be a popular cultural institution, and civil unions will always be only a legal institution rather than a cultural one, I believe. After all, you don't say 'please civil union me' or 'we are civilly united', as marriage equality activists have pointed out. Therefore, the terminology change causes the government regulation to become more separated from the cultural and historical institution.

In my model, marriage will be the institution people enter into to create families, and will be maintained by the couple and their surrounding community. Civil unions will be the legal contract governments administer, as a tool to help marriages. Governments now control something that can assist marriages rather than the marriage itself here, a very important difference.

This change can have a profound effect on things. For example, we can have a simple and non-bitter process for ending the civil union, but culturally we can still view that marriage shouldn't end unless there is significant problems. The divorce rate wouldn't have skyrocketed after the no-fault reforms if this approach had been taken, I believe.

Or take the marriage equality thing. Rather than having a politics heavy campaign that feels top-down that 'redefines marriage' in our opponents' eyes, it would have been a cultural change that started from everyday life. The acceptance of these unions as a part of normal everyday life will finally demanded the government's equal treatment through provision of equal civil union rights. And we may have had it done long ago if we could go that route instead.