This article replaces my original rant, which I decided to push deeper into the archives because it no longer represents my opinion on the subject. This original rant is linked in the end for historical reasons only. The following is a heavily edited thread from Slashdot (original source).
by spun (1352)
So, you are proposing a second class of marriage for barren citizens, with no economic incentives like tax breaks. That would be fine, if children were the only societal benefit of marriage. To quote drsmithy from this very thread: "Overall, marriage creates a 'stronger' community. On a more individual scale, married couples generally live longer, make more money and and have higher employment rates. Additionally children brought up by married couples tend to have better health, better school results and fewer problems with the law."
There are other positive externalities of marriage besides children. If nothing else, married couples both gay and straight can provide a better, more stable family for adopted children. But married couples also tend to be better for the community in general, more productive, more stable, contributing more wealth.
by melikamp (631205)
Let's just assume that it is true for now and not be overly skeptical. But then it is the classic marriage that does these things for us, not the new marriage being proposed. The stability results, imho, from the common understanding of marriage as a very long term union between one male and one female for the purpose of procreation and child-rearing. To be sure, people marry for other legitimate reasons, but that is irrelevant because we are just looking at the factors which contribute to the economic prosperity of all. It seems to me that this marriage really works as a package and relaxing some of the conditions actually ruins the economic argument, since marriages are only as stable as people believe they should be. In particular, any marriage that does not have a far-reaching, hard-to-achieve communal goal as its core purpose will lack stability. (The argument for a same-sex marriage is therefore weakened because it lacks the procreative function, but I am willing to overlook that because it is more of an issue of technology and price now. That is, in the future, making a new baby won't require "two parents", only two cells or even two data files.)
I think that we need to be more careful than ever with this stuff, since there are so many unknown factors we are messing with. Not only we are not justified in propping childless (by design) unions, we are hardly justified in propping the ones with such intent, the way we do it today. We should still do it, imho, but be smarter about it and make adjustments to account for our understanding of the danger of overpopulation. I agree (in contrast with my beliefs a few years ago) that same-sex couples should be treated equally when it comes to child-rearing rights and benefits. There is a bit of an icy slope here I'd like to explore: if we say that two consenting loving adults are a right kind of environment to raise a child in, would it not be true for three or four consenting loving adults? And then, should we have a "civil union of two to five" instead of "man and wife"? I think it follows that we do, but is five the right number? This is a very large social experiment.
And my other main point is that "civil union" is just so much better than "marriage". This is gotta be the stupidest thing the movement has done: instead of asking for equal treatment, they went for "marriage", which is basically a patched-up male property right. What I envision is a civil union of two (or more?) people who get to be treated as a single unit economically and legally if they so desire. That alone already provides them with an economic advantage, so there is no need to make them even stronger at the expense of the loner. We still need the loner to keep the people market liquid. Some people just like to solo, let them.
If the union declares an intention of raising children, more help is given, since we all believe that families should raise children, with government being the only default option, and not the choice one.
But no, that's almost too easy. Instead, the program is to further patch marriage, against the overwhelming religious opposition which ignores rational arguments by its very design. A marriage, a barbaric invention that really shines in a society where child mortality is through the roof, the nature is the enemy, and a person's value is determined solely by the number of his or her capable offspring. The problem is solved very practically, and entirely by males too. First we segregate women, simply because we can. Then we divide them in a way that actually maximizes the number of unions and the genetic variability (good math, men), and finally we pass property laws to protect male bloodlines. This is a beautiful solution to a problem we no longer have.
Back then, from men's point of view, it is imperative to know who the father is, on pain of being a sucker who raises other's child. Hence women became property, not to be shared for any reason. Without sharing, the marriage is the optimal solution as it pairs up everyone in a population where boys and girls are born at the same rate.
With DNA testing being affordable as it is, this concern no longer exists. With no constraint on women, the genetic variability would peak if no two people had more than one child together. This can be implemented easily by having couples stay together and swapping sperm. Or partners, if you are into that kind of thing ;)
2004-02-08 - Same sex marriage is a fundamental right? What if I want to marry my pet?