Tag Archives: marriage

Gay Marriage May Pave The Way For The Legalization Of Polygamy

In the US, marriage licenses were introduced the late 1800s in most states as a way to stop interracial marriages. By the early 1900s, the legal age of sexual consent was raised from 12 (roughly the age when puberty starts) to 16 — though some states still allow marriage as early as 14 years old. The marriage license was then also used to prohibit marriages with people that were too young. Also in the late 19th century, polygamy became illegal throughout the country in response to the rise of the Mormons, and marriage licenses were used to stop it as well. Finally, as homosexuality came out of the shadows in the 1970s, the licenses were used to prevent gay marriage.

marriage license

Since marriage is usually a religious rite, in a country with nearly unlimited religious freedom the government’s interest in marriage should only pertain to secondary issues of taxation and arbitration (inheritance, custody, distribution of assets, etc). Given that, the various prohibitions on marriage by government have never made any sense from the standpoint of civil rights. The issue first came to a head in the 1960s, when the Supreme Court invalidated miscegenation laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Almost fifty years later, the Court is now poised to invalidate the prohibition of gay marriage. If it does, marriage licenses will only have the power to prohibit polygamy and violations of age of consent.

A federal suit challenging Utah’s polygamy law was brought in 2011 by the cast members of the Sister Wives reality TV series, and a decision should come soon. Regardless of the outcome, an appeal will likely be made to the 10th Circuit, and then the Supreme Court. Which brings us back to the current gay marriage case: Justice Sotomayor, who will likely vote for legalization of gay marriage, asked attorney Ted Olson, who is arguing that gay marriage is a fundamental civil right, if any restrictions on marriage can exist. His answer was a “yes”: polygamy can be banned because it’s a law prohibiting conduct, whereas gay marriage bans are based on discrimination of a class of people based on their status as homosexuals. Given that both arguments can be applied to both gays and polygamists, it’s a very weak one.

The Brown Family, from TLC’s ‘Sister Wives’


Prohibition of interracial marriages was based on racism — the view that non-whites were lesser versions of humans, maybe even sub-human, and it would thus be almost as morally wrong for whites to marry them as it would be to marry animals. The prohibition of gay marriage and polygamy is based on religious beliefs. The concept of age of consent is based on a parental desire to prolong the chastity of childhood beyond its natural end at puberty. None of these legal prohibitions have anything to do with the government’s monetary and arbitrative interest in the private, and usually religious, institution of marriage. All four prohibitions are based on the moral fashions of certain periods in our history — fashions which are now changing. In fact, marriage itself is increasingly being seen as an outdated fashion, made pointless by the ease of divorce.

It’s also important to note that legal prohibitions of marriage have little bearing on reality. Whether or not they’re allowed to marry legally, interracial, gay, and polygamous couples/triples/etc still act like they are married for all purposes that matter: they live together, they have sex, they share expenses and have children. The only differences are legal, and therefore artificial: they have to jump through hoops to get certain rights like hospital visitations and power of attorney, and are denied certain benefits, like sharing insurance plans. It’s reminiscent of other toothless prohibitions, like those on alcohol and drugs. If 20th century legislation has taught us anything, it’s that it is almost impossible to legislate morality in a free country: as long as they have the right to privacy, the people will do what they want in their own homes.

Of course, our right to privacy is increasingly being threatened by technology, and it is now easier than ever for a fascist state to impose moral dictates on its population. Which in turn means that it is now more important than ever that our laws not curb the freedoms upon which America was founded.

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via NPR

Divorce And Drinking

Scientists had a lot of data on some 20,000 people in a Norwegian county, so they did a study looking at how alcohol consumption affected their marriages. The percentage of subjects that got divorced:

  • 5.8% of couples in which both people were light drinkers
  • 13.1% of couples in which the husband was a heavy drinker, but the wife wasn’t
  • 17.2% of couples in which both people were heavy drinkers
  • 26.8% of couples in the wife was a heavy drinker, but the husband wasn’t

Moral of the story: don’t drink that much, but however much you drink, make sure your spouse is on the same page. Ditto goes for smoking. Also, be generous, committed, and good in bed. And it wouldn’t hurt to live in Utah.

Photo by Tetra Pak

Photo by Tetra Pak


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From Alcoholism, via LA Times and Neatorama

My Friends Are Married

Hilarious new Tumblr from a 25-year old single woman, full of stuff like this:


When my friend asks me if I expect to meet my husband at a bar


When my friend says she can’t go see Magic Mike because her husband will get mad



When my friend tells me she’s concerned about my drinking



When my friend asks if we can go to a quieter bar


From My Friends Are Married

Interesting Divorce Statistics

Mental Floss dug up some data on what circumstances are correlated with either higher- or lower-than-normal divorce rates. Of course, correlation is not causation, so just because something is related to a higher divorce rate, doesn’t mean that it causes divorce. Still, they’re interesting to consider:

  • Smoking: couples where one person smokes are almost twice as likely to get divorced. It’s a little higher if the smoker is the wife. And even when both spouses are smokers, the divorce rate is still higher than non-smokers; however, this may have a common cause, since poorer people smoke more and are also more likely to get divorced.
  • Jobs: some professions have lower divorce rates than normal. Optometrists, shuttle car drivers, transit cops, farmers, nuclear engineers and clergy. Again, this is probably just due to the kind of people that choose those professions, and the spouses that marry them — the jobs themselves don’t really make them less divorce-prone. Massage therapists and mathematicians were among the most likely to get divorced.
  • Generosity: couples that split chores evenly tend to have a lower divorce rate. This was also corroborated by the National Marriage Project, which showed that generosity was the 3rd biggest predictor of a happy marriage.
  • Ideology: conservative states have a higher rate of divorce than progressive ones. This is probably due a few factors, including the average level of education and marriage age being lower in conservative states: people there get married younger, then probably grow apart as they age, and don’t have coping skills like good communication techniques to work problems out. It’s worth noting that while some liberal states do have the lowest rates of divorce, others have the highest likelihood of marriages ending in divorce.
  • Influence: people who know more divorced couples tend to get divorced more. The social effect is very powerful and its presence can be seen in a lot of other problems, such as smoking and obesity: people tend to be like their friends and family. When it comes to people, birds of a feather don’t necessarily flock together, but rather those who flock together start growing the same feathers.
  • Beginnings: couples who met during high school or college are more likely to stay together; those who met in bars are more likely to get divorced. This likely has to do with shared history, values and other things the spouses should have in common.
  • Kids: couples who have more daughters have a higher rate of divorce; couples who have more sons have a lower rate.
  • Wife: 73% of divorces are initiated by the wife.


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From Mental Floss, via Neatorama

Reductionism: The Ultimate Form Of Sarcasm

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Gay Community Finally Apologizes For Ruining The Sanctity Of Marriage

Amy Koch was a senator in the Minnesota state senate until December 16th, when she resigned her post after it got out that she was having an affair with the senate’s communications director. The affair was quite untimely, as Senator Koch was trying her best to pass the state’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defends marriage from the machinations of the gays. Unfortunately, even if it passes in 2012, the proposed amendment to the Minnesotan constitution will have come too late to save Koch’s own marriage from the manicured hands of the LGBT community. Indubitably, Koch’s role in this saga will now change, as she will become a martyr for the sanctity of marriage and a warning to all about the devious tactics of the homosexuals, who routinely lure innocent straight spouses into either affairs or complacency for the sole objective of raising the divorce rate.

Amy Koch's family (left), which the gay community broke up using the chiseled good looks of Michael Brodkorb (right)


Taking responsibility for the attack, a spokesman apologized on behalf of the gay community for the success of its shrewd campaign:

Dear Ms. Koch,

On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage.  We are ashamed of ourselves for causing you to have what the media refers to as an “illicit affair” with your staffer, and we also extend our deepest apologies to him and to his wife. These recent events have made it quite clear that our gay and lesbian tactics have gone too far, affecting even the most respectful of our society.

We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.  And we are doubly remorseful in knowing that many will see this as a form of sexual harassment of a subordinate.

It is now clear to us that if we were not so self-focused and myopic, we would have been able to see that the time you wasted diligently writing legislation that would forever seal the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman, could have been more usefully spent reshaping the legal definition of “adultery.

Forgive us. As you know, we are not church-going people, so we are unable to fully appreciate that “gay marriage” is incompatible with Christian values, despite the fact that those values carry a biblical tradition of adultery such as yours. We applaud you for keeping that tradition going.

And finally, shame on us for thinking that marriage is a private affair, and that our marriage would have little impact on anyone’s family. We now see that marriage is more than that. It is an agreement with society. We should listen to the Minnesota Family Council when it tells us that marriage is about being public, which explains why marriages are public ceremonies. Never did we realize that it is exactly because of this societal agreement that the entire world is looking at you in shame and disappointment instead of minding its own business.

From the bottom of our hearts, we ask that you please accept our apology.

Thank you.
John Medeiros
Minneapolis MN

From CityPages, via BoingBoing

Predictors For A Happy Marriage

  1. Sexual Intimacy
  2. Commitment
  3. Generosity

That’s according to a study (PDF) by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project. The top two are no-brainers, but how high generosity ranks may be a little surprising. All the couples in the survey had kids, but the ones that said there was a lot of generosity in the marriage were five times more likely to say their marriage was very happy. And there was correlation between all three: couples who reported high amounts of generosity and commitment also said they were sexually satisfied.

From the report:

Generosity is defined here as “the virtue of giving good things to [one’s spouse] freely and abundantly,” and encompasses small acts of service (e.g., making coffee for one’s spouse in the morning), the expression of affection, displays of respect, and a willingness to “forgive him/her for mistakes and failings.” Husbands and wives who score high on the generosity scale—both in terms of giving and receiving in a spirit of generosity—are significantly more likely to report that they are “very happy” in their marriages and less prone to divorce.

From The National Marriage Project (PDF), via MSNBC and The New York Times

Maybe They Should Outlaw Celebrity Marriage

George Takei on Kim Kardashian's divorce

From Twitter

Mexico City Trying To Introduce Expiring Marriage Contracts

There’s a bill in the Mexico City legislature that would require the signatories of a marriage contract include a prenup and give the marriage an expiration date — no less than two years. Why? Too many divorce battles are clogging up their legal system. (Mexico City is like Washington, D.C. — it’s not a Mexican state, but it has its own laws like a state would.) So in light of a 40% divorce rate, they figure it’s pointless to pretend that there’s even a good chance that death will do the bride and groom part, and rather than put off the legal question until the end of the marriage, why not treat it like the contract that it is?

It’s pretty routine for business contracts to have clauses for dissolution of the contract, where damages and so forth are spelled out. It’s also routine to specify the duration of the contract, e.g:

I will lease your house for 2 years and if I break the lease early, I’ll pay you two months rent. The lease can be renewed after the 2 years are up and I’ll pay damages for anything I break in the meantime.

Imagine if leases didn’t specify those things — small claims court would be filled with tenants and landlords. The Catholic church is of course mortified by this law, because they keep insisting that marriage is for life, as if they’re blind to the divorce rate. They’re also mortified that marriage is being treated like a commercial contract. Well, this is what happens when church and state are not properly separated: the state steps on the church’s toes — take note, Republicans.

Maybe it’s time the church jumps on the Libertarian bandwagon and declares that there’s a difference between marriages sanctioned by God for the purposes of sacraments, procreation and so on, and those sanctioned by the state for the purposes of taxation, visitation rights, and health insurance. That way the heathens can all marry whomever they want under the auspices of the state alone and write in a two-year expiration date to the contract, and the righteous can marry one person of the opposite sex for life, under the auspices of the church (and for taxes and other legal matters, under the auspices of the state also). To eliminate confusion, we could call the state-sanctioned ones “civil unions,” and keep the term “marriage” to its original, religious meaning. And everyone would live happily ever after, until the question of robotic civil unions comes up.

Futurama's Calculon and his would-be bride, Coilette of Robonia (a.k.a., transgendered Bender)


From NPR

So You Want To Marry Your Gay 14-Year Old First Cousin

Where do you go for something like that? The answer is New York, because it’s perfectly legal there. If you can wait until he’s 16, you can also do it in Vermont. And if you can wait until 18, then you can do it in most of New England. The South, however, is divided on the issue: in South Carolina, you can marry your first cousin at 14, but there’s a constitutional ban on doing so if he’s gay. If however, there’s no homosexuality involved and you can wait to marry your first cousin until 16 or 17, well that’s perfectly legal in most of the South.

And so, besides the highest divorce rates in the nation, allowing you to marry your underage first cousin is the other thing New England and the Deep South have in common. Given the ridiculousness of all this, and the fact that marriage licenses have traditionally been used only to prevent interracial marriages, plus the fact that marriage is primarily a religious institution, maybe it’s time to abolish legal marriages and make them all civil unions. After all, since it sounds like it’s been ripped from the Declaration of Independence, just below the right to pursue happiness, few Americans can disagree with this:

Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. (Libertarian Party platform, section 1.3)

From Mediaite