This election will be over soon, and I will be so very happy. I really want to go back to comfortably ignoring politics, oh please yes. But as we all know, there's some major stuff on the plate right now, so I don't get to yet.
My subject of bitchy rant at the moment is CA's Prop 8, which if passed would repeal existing and prevent future same-sex marriage in our state. I am of course livid about this, not just for the obvious reason of being gay, or even because the other side is dirty enough to sink to blackmail and extortion
in an attempt to push their discriminatory agenda, or all of the many other good reasons I am sure exist to want to see this thing crash and burn.
The whole thing has me pissed off as a lawyer, too.
So Ok, people. There is a distinction between legal and sacred/religious/whathaveyou marriage. I am not at all thrilled that the term is used as a catchall for both, and conflating the two leads to lots of confusion, and, well, juicy little pockets of evil like Prop 8.
Legal marriage is the handy process of entering into a number of contracts all at once. They include imparting medical authority and rights with regards to the custody of minor children, but mostly these contracts are about property. Particularly real property (land).
California is a community property state, which in a nutshell means that (almost) all assets, earnings and property earned or obtained by either spouse during the marriage become equally and jointly owned by both. (There's more than that...a semester of law school and a day on the bar more...but that's all you really need for now). Personally I'm too much of a loner to enjoy the thought of entering into that particular contract, but hey, there are tax advantages, so if you're into it, go for it. The divorces get pretty unpleasant, but that's true in other states, too.
Legal marriage was originally a way for a husband and his bride's father to come into agreements vis. money and land (because of course the woman couldn't own it). The woman herself was part of the property being exchanged, because until the early 20th century her legal rights were abysmal. Yes, the law has changed since then, but ponder that history for a moment anyway.
Note that I haven't mentioned sex, other than that's the typical way a couple ends up with children. They are a part of the marriage contract, true, but California's complex family code will give custody to a surviving parent whether or not there was a marriage and has otherwise done everything it can to give equal rights to married and unmarried parents. This is a Good Thing For Everyone. So the bit in the marriage contract about children is pretty superfluous. Besides, we all know that there are other ways that straight couples come by kids as well, and plenty of gay folk have them too. (Hello, lesbian couples have been borrowing their male friends for stud service for ages, and that's just the easiest way).
Sex has nothing to do with legal marriage. Because it's an example of contract law. Denying legal rights, including the making of contracts, to a class of Americans based on gender is gender discrimination, pure and simple. That's illegal both in CA and Federally (I could look up the Act, but I'm being lazy), which is why this issue is eventually bound for the Supreme Court. This is a purely legal issue. No really. It is.
The Pro-8 folks are yowling about the sanctity of marriage and the desire to protect traditional unions, but trust me because I've studied it when I say contract law is anything but sacred, and if you want to look at traditional legal marriage, you end up with the woman-as-property bit. My long winded point here is that Prop 8 will in no way, shape or form change religious marriage. If you want to think gay sex is Teh Evil and marriage should only be between a man and woman of your own specific religion, well, fine, that hurts my feelings but I won't argue much. I'll support your right to think that, so long as you don't attempt to kill anyone. I firmly believe that the law should stay out of our churches as much as I believe that, well, the churches should stay out of our law...
Again, the fact that English uses the same word for legal and sacred "marriage" and that we are culturally conditioned to enter into both at the same time ANNOYS me. Annoys the HELL out of me. I don't like the traditions behind legal marriage, I don't like the bundle-of-contracts that no one talks about and most newlyweds don't understand because this institution is supposedly about relationships. I don't like the assumption in either type that making any kind of agreement will somehow keep a relationship alive forever, when the reality is that people grow and change, sometimes apart, whether or not they've agreed to co-own all their property.
Personally...I am fond of long-term commitments and serious rituals made out of love. Something like a handfasting where the couple (triad, quad, whathaveyou) renews their vows every now and again to keep things current emotionally is more my speed, but I digress. I seem emotionally predisposed to long-term attachments and come on, I'm a Pagan, of COURSE I like Deep Meaningful Rituals...but I've just given you many of the reasons marriage (legal and sacred) as practiced in America today rubs my fur a bit wrong.
I just wanted to point out that Prop 8 is not even about what its supporters are claiming it's about. This thing is an example of pure sex discrimination, and an attempt to write it into our very constitution at that. Sacred marriage won't change when 8 fails, and if you want to go do it in a way that excludes gays, or anyone who isn't your flavor of religion, have at. It's a free country.
...it still is, isn't it? Right?