Friday, February 27, 2004

Some folks, whom I normally respect and admire, have been floating some rather dubious assertions in their endorsement of the FMA floater. Specifically, they seem to regard the gay movement for marriage rights as a "benefits" grab - a scam to rake in the fiscal and financial goods associated with civil marriage.

I have to wonder what exactly they think marriage is for.

Is it a squalid tax-dodge, a simple economic arrangement for the benefit of the undersigned? As someone who is never likely to see a wedding from the inside - straight, gay or bestial - I have only one thing to say to that idea. Fuck off.

This cash-and-carry conception of marriage rights reflects very poorly upon the professors. I think I can safely characterize this notion as intrinsically anti-family. It is an economically reductionist picture of the family.

But, before you turn away in disgusted anticipation of some touchy-feely ode to the wonders of familial love, I'll give you this:

Marriage protects the familial rights of association. The spouse enjoys intrinsic rights within the married family in regards to the second spouse, and the children within the family. These rights include favored status in custody cases over the children in the family. I have heard far too many stories of children ripped out of the bosom of a gay family by grand-parents or other interested parties, in which the gay family's non-status as a non-family allows the destruction of that legally nonexistent association. So long as the gay family is outlaw, it is vulnerable to what I would characterize as legal predation by anyone with a grudge and an actionable status.

Marriage preserves the family's possessions within the family. In death, the gay family is weakened by its lack of direct legal standing. The estate of deceased spouse, if intestate, will fall to the control of his or her "legal" family. What if the children in the family are not genetically his or hers? They will be disinherited.

Marriage preserves the family's rights of association in sickness and death. The external "family" can intercede, interrupt, and interfere in times of sickness and weakness. The outlawed family loses the right of control over burial.

Without the right of civil marriage, gay families exist only on the sufferance of others. They are permanent charity cases, dependant on the good will of those with actual, discrete legal rights, who must be willing to pretend the gay family their pretend-rights.

This isn't about the aggrandizement of benefits. This is about delivering gay families from the victimization of beneficence.

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