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Christopher Wilde
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Part 3: A Proposal for Ending Marriage in Favor of Domestic Partnership

By Christopher Wilde

The California Supreme Court decision is about who can and who can’t get married. The culminating pressure that brought that decision into their hands is a tremendous force of love on both sides. Whether a belief that an institution is being preserved or a right being gained it all comes down to their hopes and dreams for a wedding day. Ironic, because all the details, preparation, romance, and expectation that goes into the single act of marriage means nothing in the eyes of the court. From the Court’s view the only important aspect of the ceremony is embodied in a little piece of paper, the marriage license the symbol of union, the corporate contract.

When that court later dissolves the marriage it will be with all the cold harshness of Solomon’s sword. It will not care about your first kiss, the vowels that passed over your lips, nor about the passion and promise that went into your sacred union. The emotionally fuel of love that goes into every good day, and every bad day of marriage does not matter. The court is only concerned with dissolving your assets, dictating the operation of your children, and preventing future hostile actions between the diminished companies that are the new lives of you and your former partner.

Failing to understand this is an expected naiveté of young couples of any gender, but it is not an excuse and there is as much a societal imperative to instruct potential families about this reality as there is to teach everyone to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. We don’t call carrying around cryptosporidium on your hands naïve we call it stupid.

The marriage conflict is simmering around the nation, the California Supreme Court decision has brought it to a boil. Already a movement is afoot asking the Court to stay their decision until a constitutional amendment can be placed on the ballot for November banning same sex marriage. The measure has garnered 1.1 million signatures. That is a far superior number than is required. Rather than being over the fight is only just beginning. Now is the time for a new proposal, now is the time to end marriage.

Marriage, regardless of religion, is a spiritual commitment shaped by the aspirations of love, family, and our public attitudes. It has no business in government; the law does not respect and barely acknowledges the existence of any aspect of love that makes a marriage. The proper goal of government is to regulate a domestic partnership which is a business organization more akin and reflective of a limited liability company, s-corporation, or partnership and should be treated as such up front and with the emphasis on all the good public policy necessary to ensure the partnership succeeds.

By eliminating marriage any couple wishing to take advantage of the regulatory atmosphere of domestic partnership should be forced to draw up a business plan, prepare articles of incorporation, and file biennial reports (every two years). Part of the plan, articles, and reports will include a plan of dissolution including a joint care plan for any children covered under the partnership.

Couples will be required to be answer questions about their future and prepare a plan of dissolution in advance of the actual fact. The act of planning for the future good or bad will alone provide a higher likelihood of an enduring partnership than the way to currently operate.

Here is an example. John and his wife Laura live in California. John gets an exceptional job offer in New York. The couple makes a plan for John to go to New York for six to eight months to start work, find a house, and generally get established. The two children will stay in California with Laura (who has a good job of her own) until the move at the end of the school year. While John is away two things happen, Laura gets a promotion and is now making as much money as John, plus she takes on a lover and decides she doesn’t want John any more.

Normally she could file for divorce, argue there was never a plan for her and the children to move, and that John “abandoned the family.” If John fights for the children it will become very expensive, additionally he has the uphill battle that if he wins the children may be uprooted from the community and lose proximity to family support in their native California. Chances are that Laura is going to win that battle. John is now trapped at his current salary unable to move back because the support he is required to pay exists and is only sustainable by the New York job.

Under the domestic partnership solution before going to New York John and Laura would have written out the details of the plan to move to New York, signed them into an addendum, filed them with the office of Domestic Partnership (County Clerk) and if those later events were to occur Laura would be barred from raising arguments, short of an extremely compelling reason, that anything other then the plan should be followed. She can stay in California but that is her choice.

There are very few unique situations between divorcing couples. The courts have litigated all but the occasional unusual circumstance and there is no reason why couples should not be forced to confront and preplan for all the known possible outcomes of their partnership. Additionally by requiring couples to continually establish plans and report the state of their partnership they are forced into having discussions and making regular commitments in writing.

All the silliness of marriage, the white dress, the vowels, the design of the invitations, and the “holiness” shouldn’t require a license and should not be under the purview of the courts. It should be separate, spiritual, and personal. The only legally binding thing that should fall into the courts should be a legislated domestic partnership.

If constitutional amendments are successful activist may have nothing to fight for except to rightfully tear down the dilapidated walls of the crumbling pre-industrial institution of marriage. Now is the time to build a new institution a gleaming structure to rationalized and practical thinking that can overcome the repeated failure of divorce. Marriage, in its current state, isn’t worth having, is discriminatory by nature, breeds corruption and deceit, and is the cause of thousands of untold deaths by suicide or murder. If gay rights activist lose the battle field to the superior war machine of constitutional amendment the next step is to improve domestic partnership. By turning domestic partnership into a stable and more desirable form of marriage couples will ultimately give up marriage in favor of the better way. In the end the fight over gay marriage will be moot.

Note: This concludes a three part article of a subject I have been studying and mulling over for years. The advent of the California Supreme Court decision prompted me to provide a summary of and idea and advocacy position in a short time and without nearly the depth, detail, or specificity I would prefer to provide. I would have preferred to have written a more detailed and supported piece however these three articles suffice to outline a potent idea. It is time for a major shift in social thought and I would encourage American’s and all people of the world to use any personal experience you have with divorce to look at what exactly this marriage fight is about? Ask yourselves if rather than to be girding up to defend the ridiculous shouldn’t we be inventing a better way to ensure a sublime future?   I will certainly be writing additional articles about this subject in the future, it's time to start a movement.

Part 1: Overturning Marriage

Part 2: Divorce: The Legal Reality of Dissolving Your Corporation

 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In general, I agree with your thesis that the religious/cultural part of marriage should be separated from the legal part. A few questions remain, though. Where will you find the political will to make the change? What about common law marriage, or children born out of wedlock/contract? I'm also curious about the reason for your resentment. Why do you feel the way you do, aside from logical arguments?

Anonymous said...

Finally. Someone else who shares my thoughts and opinions on the institution of marriage. The commitments between individuals who choose to live their lives together should not be regulated by government. Thanks for putting this idea out into the public dialog.