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Rethinking the Marriage License
Cat in hat
Ok, where to start?

Hmmm, well i suppose with me. I'm gay, and would love to get married. That said, i don't think a church should be forced to marry me.

That's a good preface to this post. Basically the idea is lets modernize the marriage license. Not just to make it legal for gays to marry, but to fix various issues with it. This is very much a work in progress, but lets go over the issues, and see where we go.

Lets start with the Libertarian issue with the marriage license, that by design, it gives permission to marry. As they say, shouldn't marriage be a right? So perhaps rather than a license... Hmmm, a registration? I've been a strong believer in separating religious and civil marriage by name. Marriage is something that gets done in a church (or a synagogue, mosque, etc), and a civil union is the equivalent if performed by a government official such as a Justice of the Peace. A registration would perhaps be better than a license, you don't need permission to marry, but if you want the benefits you get with a license now(visitation rights, insurance, etc), you have to get the government's approval in the form of registering it, but that's optional.

Religious objections to homosexuals marrying. Well, that's kinda covered by the above, the license or registration would no longer carry the word marriage, nobody could get married except in a church who would have a first amendment right to decide who can participate in their ceremonies.

Gays desire to marry. This wouldn't entirely be solved, but by replacing the marriage license with something else with the same name for everyone, they would be on equal footing legally with heterosexuals.

Women's rights groups would likely be satisfied with gender neutral terms that define the primary (currently husband) and secondary (currently wife) in the relationship regardless of gender. That would make for a standardized manner in which a man could take the woman's name if he so chose. Obviously this would also help homosexual couples.

Plurists... pluralists... What is the proper term for those who believe in more than one partner? Either way, marriage or whatever the government calls it would still be defined as a couple. I don't think there's any plural marriage group that doesn't have a couple at its core. Mormons for example (those that believe in plural marriage) still have a husband and a first wife that's above the others.

Terms, it might be best to give the terms husband and wife to the church, and go with something more gender neutral. Husband comes from the norse Hús (house) and bóndi (occupier and tiller of the soil) from which we get húsbóndi (master of the house) which became husband in Old English. It doesn't seem that there's any way a female form of that could be found, and it certainly makes husband and husband make little sense, since even in the most balanced of relationships, there's still typically a head of household for more than just tax purposes. Wif is simpler, wif, Old English for woman which is also related to the Dutch wijf and German weib, so wife would work as a term for a female primary, or wife and wife would also work. Hmmm, so maybe rather than gender neutral should husband be replaced with wer (old English) or were (which means a female werewolf would be a wifwolf or wifewolf)?

In the end, i think it'd look something like this:
Marriage (church) or civil union (legal ceremony for all couples heterosexual or homosexual)
Partner registry (legal recognition of one's status)
The main difference will be that which ceremony you have will be determined by who solemnizes it, not by the type of couple.

Its probably as equal as it can get unless we forgo the first amendment and start telling churches that they have to marry any two persons. That or make marriage something only the government can do.


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