Whatever one thinks of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has ruled.
Because much of the demand for legalization involved benefits, now is a good time to address that subject directly. But first, because benefits are government granted, we should delve into deeper territory and examine the institution of marriage not from the oft-cited religious point of view, but from a fundamental individual-rights perspective and question the whole concept of “legalization” by government at any level (including local administrative processes) regarding this most personal relationship.
Consider: Marriage between consenting adults established via notarized and recorded private contract could be a better, more reliable route to legalization.
This would ensure that personally agreed to conditions regarding divorce, children, medical, and financial matters can prevail indefinitely or be mutually terminated like any other contract.
Only specified responsibilities regarding child custody or support and finances would require automatic extension. Divorce discord could be resolved by disinterested arbitration rather than by lining the pockets of lawyers.
Children produced or adopted within intact marriages are already protected against abuse or neglect because the state has a duty to secure individual rights of children in the same way it protects individual rights of all citizens.
But outside the child protection role, what business has government to interfere with any choices between married couples?
Civil marriage is a secular arrangement and religious marriage is a union consecrated by God. But every state requires a revenue-producing license and official governmental registration for both, thereby gaining ultimate control over all marital issues.
Now, through the Supreme Court, the federal government has added dictates overriding state statutes. Prenuptial agreements are an option, but since government holds the cards of marriage law, the courts can still trump these agreements by way of statutes and individual judges’ rulings.
If marriages were legalized only by private contract, couples would control every aspect of their relationship by deciding issues before marriage, a practice that not only would provide autonomy but also undoubtedly lower the divorce rate and increase family-unit stability.
Unimaginative couples could consult template marriage contracts to assist with documentation the same way others presently consult inheritance wills.
The argument for private marriage contracts is that government control over this personal and private matter is eliminated. Judges could not dictate ridiculous terms according to irrational or outdated statutes, or their own set of values rather than those of a couple.
The argument against private contracts, by married couples of course, is that government benefits would no longer exist, but back on the positive side, marriage-related fraud would not exist either, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.
Let’s look hard and clear at benefits. The current system is overwhelmingly biased for married couples and demonstrably discriminates against single people.
Everyone knows about joint income tax filing and estate and gift tax exemptions, but these are only tiny examples from the staggering number of benefits for the married.
As of Dec. 31, 2003 (confirmed in 2004 figures), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 1,138 federal statutory provisions were classified to the U.S. code in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges — 1,138!
Is it any wonder that same-sex marriage advocates were fixated on benefits?
And that number is from 2003-2004. How many more since then?
Add to this bloated and convoluted federal system the additional state benefits, regulations, and statutes some of which contradict federal laws and many of which entirely control certain marriage dissolution matters such as dictating punishing, life-long alimony payments, even though the receiving spouse (usually the woman) is employed and/or living with another “partner.”
Why all of this?
And especially: Why should single individuals be penalized by more taxation and different rules under any circumstances?
Private contract marriages would eliminate all of this chaotic and unfair mess by getting the government out of our private lives and ensure that our own relationship wishes are sacred and secure. Period.
On a larger overview, marriage is only another example of countless group privileges today. Governmental favors to more and more group members over respect for individuals have become a huge, cumbersome house of cards that needs to begin disassembling rather than built up with more benefits to more people and more spending and waste of taxpayer money.
Perhaps questions regarding private matters and special interest favoring are the ones we should be hearing in vigorous debate from the media, from pundits, from we the people. Not from the Supreme Court, Congress, the president, or any other government sector.
Same-sex marriage is only the latest wild card added to the already stacked deck that is government control over personal, familial, medical, and financial matters, rewarding some and penalizing others, thus violating the sovereignty and individual rights of every citizen, single, married, man, woman, young, and old.
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation. She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "The Innocent." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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