State sanctioned heterosexual coupledom.
In four words, that’s what I think marriage generally is. There are some states that allow non-hetero marriages. A few allow polygyny. I know of none that allow polyandry.
I like the idea of a separation of church and state and along those same lines, I don’t think it’s the states job to promote a single form of relationship. Much like church and state, what we have promotes a specific type of relationship, which has no particular reason. It’s completely arbitrary.
Many argue from the point of family and children. That marriage is there to support family and a stable environment for children. I call bullshit on that. Studies have yet to show that a heterosexual nuclear family is as a construct any better than any other. Furthermore, things have changed a lot in 50 years, never mind the centuries that state marriages have been enforced. The big nail in the coffin for this argument is that there is no proviso for children in marriage. You don’t have to have children. There’s not even a requirement to live together. You can and it does happen that two people get married and meet only once at the registry office for the sole purpose of getting one of the parties a passport or residency permit.
So what is marriage typically? Around the world, it’s typically a tax break as well as some ground rules for inheritance and some other legal decision-making powers. In some, it’s also a requirement for having legal sex or sharing the same hotel room. That’s it. It’s essentially a tax break for heterosexual couples. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?
Ceremonies committing partners together can and do happen outside of marriage. Likewise, marriage can and does happen without any ceremony. I made it clear to my wife that I felt married to her before we got married. The humanist ceremony we had was very nice and I loved it, but it was mostly for friends and family. The registry wedding was pure formality. I even made it clear before the wedding that anything said in the registry office didn’t apply, it was only to satisfy the government. (Before this gets too side-tracked, I got married in Poland, so even the registry wedding has fixed official vows,
stuff about God in it and must be done in Polish, so I didn’t want to promise stuff that I didn’t agree, even believe in or even understand)
Now, I happen to be a heterosexual married guy, but I can see the injustice of this institution. I don’t think I should get a tax break just for being married. I think tax breaks and welfare to support kids should continue and continue independent of marriage.
Support the kids and not the relationship style.