with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Phooey on Marriage

Currently, the news out of the states for the past few months has been sprinkled with diatribe and exposes on same-sex marriage. When Bush brought this into the public arena with a disgusting rampage against the vile, sinners who even consider this, threatening to bring forth an amendment to the Constitution to guarantee that marriage will be ONLY between a man and a woman, I went ballistic. Oh, I’m not exaggerating. I was bombastically ballistic.

But there is more to the issue than me going off the deep end on this point. But I will tell you about the deep end of things first.

Marriage is a joke. Honestly. The whole concept of marriage is a made up thing that religious people got their hands on and when they say that “marriage is the ties that bind” they are saying that religion binds them to strangulation just to stay together. Humans, in general, are living longer than ever. Can you imagine, honestly, saying I love you and I want to be with you, and then meaning it 40 years later? That’s great for those who have the “special” love, but for the rest of the world, boredom seeps in. Hey, I want to believe in the fantasy of forever more, but realistically, I don’t see it. The normal American child comes from a divorced family. That’s normal. Living together for ever and ever isn’t.

Let me make it clear, unless the damage to children is worse for the staying together, I think there should be a law that says you will work it out and figure it out and stay together until the children are at least 18 – 22 preferably – or don’t do it in the first place . This should be the penalty for marriage and children. If you’re going to do it, do it well, do it good, and make it last until the child is grown up. All this crap about “He was different before we got married” or “We grew apart” is crap. Pure crap. If you don’t know what you are getting before you get married, wipe the stardust out of your eyes and inspect. Humans may have risen high on the food chain to superior control of the planet, but we are in-breeders and stupid breeders and we are breeding ourselves out of existence by continuing to choose stupid partners to make stupid children.

Oh, Lorelle, you’re being so callus. Excuse me? Think about it. Did you choose your partner because he or she was strong, healthy, brilliant, wise in heart, mind and spirit? Or was it cuz they were cute, sexy, good in bed, had money, seemed nice, or you thought you’d never get another offer? These are the number one reasons people get married. Not for survival of the fittest and survival of the marriage and family, but for cute, money, and low self-esteem. Think about it. Does a snake think “I’ll go for the weak and sickly one in the corner”? Does a lion say “Hey, buddy, if I lose, will you make me king of the jungle?” NO! Only humans go for the pity party when partnering.

Benefits of marriage? Let’s see, some governments in the world give you a tax break, but others don’t. As for the States, they say they do but you still can end up paying more if you are married depending upon your income. Married people don’t have to fight over who gets what when one dies when there isn’t a clear estate plan, but a good estate plan can overcome the marriage laws. There are insurance benefits – you can take turns riding each other’s insurance plans. Let’s see, in some places you get to know medical and other private information about your partner, but the number one reason same-sex people want to get married is so they can be by the bedside of their dying partner when the time comes. Other than that, where are the benefits of being married?

Social recognition! Say what? So, when you are married society thinks its “okay” and when you live together it’s horrible. Who thought that up? Again, religion enters into the picture. Trust me, no marriage ever made a family perfect, holy, or on a crash course for heaven. It is the people in the game that matter not the piece of paper.

So other than for a few tax and insurance things, the core of marriage boils down to who can stand next to the bedside at death in a hospital and who can sign off on the paper that says “pull the plug”. That’s all that I can come up with. The rest is bullshit and religion. All made up stuff.

If a parent or guardian can pull the plug on a child, and a married partner can pull the plug on each other, why can’t someone else do it if the papers are in order? Signing a piece of paper that gives someone legal guardianship isn’t much different than a marriage contract. “Until death do us part” is the same thing in legal terms. So what’s the big deal? Unfortunately, there are lots of big deals.

Besides the religious crap for banning same-sex marriage, the ringing cry from anti-same-sex marriage folks is the “fact” that this will lower the birthrate. What? According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, 1,365,966 births were out of wedlock in 2002, up 1 percent from 2001. No one seems to care about these kids coming from a single mother home. They only seem to care about children in same-sex homes. Excuse me, people make babies for a lot of reasons, and being married isn’t one of them. Look at Rachel on the hit television show, Friends. She went through with it unmarried, but with “friends”. A lot of people do. And same-sex folks also want children and there is no evidence ANYWHERE (except that coming from religiously-biased groups and not based upon fact) that the sex of your parents makes a difference.

No one complains about one woman raising children, or one man raising children. They just complain about two women raising children or two men raising children. HAVING parents, or at least one steady, caring and compassionate person in the home, has a greater impact on children than the sex of the guardian. Oprah was raised by her grandmother, as was Barry Manilow. Bill Gates lost his dad when he was very young, and Barbara Streisand’s father died when she was in diapers. Lots of incredibly powerful people came from mixed up, non-normal homes. What should be different about same-sex couples? And folks, don’t worry, people will keep making babies, with and without marriage.

Because marriage is a made up thing that is reinforced by a society once dominated by subservience to religion for social control, why bother? My position on this is very simple and very clear. Love is love and a rare commodity in the world. If you love each other enough to put up with all the bullshit over the years, and there will be bullshit, then sign a piece of paper, call it a contract, and be “married”.

Make the paper mean something and not be something easily broken for the next honey that comes around the corner. And think about it a long time before doing. I honestly think the law that Bush should be pushing for is one that requires every child to go through marriage and family training and counseling before they can graduate. But no, many states require students to pass a swimming test before they can graduate (to lower the number of deaths from drowning) but they can graduate without knowing how to handle a checkbook, get a job, or get married and have children. Too sad.

Same sex? Different sex? You notice I didn’t mention the exclusivity of the sex in my marriage position. That is because of the leading line that states love is a rare commodity. Love that is strong, lasting, and lifts both parties up instead of smashing them down over time, well, that is one that should be honored no matter who is doing the loving. Who cares. Let love rule the marriage rights and abolish all laws, rules, and regs of the government interfering in the bedroom.

Now, let’s put my own diatribe aside and look at this from another perspective. One that should be shaking up the walls of the US with much more outrage than the crap about same-sex marriage being the downfall of civilization.

Did you know that you can’t get married in Israel without a rabbi? There is no legal civil marriage in Israel. Marriage must happen under the Jewish “tent” (so to speak) with a rabbi no matter what religion you are.

This has always confused me. How the Arab-Israelis handle their marriage contracts? Make a trip to Jordan or Egypt? Not so outrageous. As a member of the international community, Israel recognizes the legitimacy of foreign marriage licenses and certificates. If you get married outside of the country, Israel will honor it. Many Israelis will fly to Cypress or another neighboring country to marry and escape the religious laws in Israel. Other Israelis say “screw it” and just live together, ignoring all the crap about marriage. Enough do so that the whole marriage thing is kinda silly to fuss over. They stay together and take care of each other, and if they need a ceremony, they have a bunch of friends and family over, do the white dress and flowers and cake shtick, have a friend lift a glass in celebration of their union, and call it a marriage. Who needs the paper? Ancient humans didn’t.

Legislature bills have bubbled up over the decades to change this, but every time the religious parties have been strong enough to swat it down. Now, things might be changing.

In today’s Haaretz newspaper, there is a game afoot in the legislature to proposes civil marriage under another name. The Bar-On Committee will submit to the ministerial committee on legislation a revolutionary bill providing an alternative to traditional marriage. They want to call it a “partnership” and not “marriage” and make it the legal term of reference. This way, people can choose to become partners by religious ceremony or by civil registration, leaving the concept of marriage out of the picture by changing the word.

Brilliant!

According to the article: “The possibility to register as partners without going through the rabbinate will be available to every Israeli, not merely to those without a religion or forbidden to marry according to halakha (Jewish law). All the partners, whether married in a religious ceremony or in a civil procedure, will be eligible for all the rights of a married couple. Those registered in a civil procedure will get divorced in a family court and not a rabbinical one.”

Why now?

Israel’s political government is made up of over 28 different political parties. In order to form a “unified government”, the prime minister must have a united coalition of the majority of political parties. A couple years ago, the ultra religious political group, Shas, pushed one too many times and Sharon slapped them out of the government. Told them, “you keep threatening to leave, so do it already!” and they did. With recent screams and shouting over the settlement withdrawals in Gaza, other religious parties are getting out of the “unified” government by quitting or firing. This is probably the first time since the very early days of Israel, there is a majority of secular political parties onboard. The time is right to get this through since it is a deal breaker for the religious.

With many parties already out or on their way out, one of the most secular parties growing in strength, Shinui (means change) has threatened that if this “partnership” proposal is not passed, they will quit the coalition. Sharon is only a couple of parties shy of losing his “unified government”, so this is a great threat to hold over his head.

So the timing is right. This is such a strange thing because the majority of Israeli citizens support civil marriages, but the religious have very strong controls here on so many things. I know it sounds strange, but in a way, Israel is not so much different from other Middle Eastern countries. The religious have control over the government and much of the governing. The only difference is that Israel portrays themselves as a democracy, even though the citizens don’t get much of a vote on the real workings of the government. They get some, but not as much as they could.

So next time you fuss over the rights to marriage, think about how marriage is more complicated for other countries. In many Middle East, Asian, and African countries, girls are assigned a husband at birth, with no opportunity to change their minds. In parts of the far orient, girls are “given” to their future husband’s family to be raised next to their future husband as brother and sister, fully knowing that this person is to be their partner, and passing the burden of raising a daughter off on a future husband’s family. Dowery rights are still argued over, feeding and supporting families on the backs and sex of daughters. Too much fuss over something that is so small in the major scheme of things. It’s time to abolish this whole thing.

Love is love, and when it is found, celebrate it in all its forms, between a parent and child, between friends, between lovers, between everyone. Let the stigma of marriage fall by the wayside and lets get on with the more important parts of life.

Lorelle
Tel Aviv, Israel

Update!
I did a little research and found out that the concept of marriage as we know it first showed up with the Earl of Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1754 in England which regulated marriage by law, acting as a control over property rights. Until then, it was a private contract between two individuals (often controlled by families) to handle the granting of property rights and the protection of bloodlines as it applied to those property rights (inheritance). This kept it “all in the family” and kept the “illegitimate” from inheriting. The notion of marriage as a “holy sacrament” and not just a contract can be traced Paul in the New Testament’s writings who compared the relationship of a husband and wife to that of Christ and his church (Ephesians 23-32). After the Norman Conquest, the church controlled weddings, involving themselves in the “contract” between the parties over property and benefiting from that involvement. Love had little or nothing to do with it.

Until 1878, the only government involvement in marriage were state laws that said American Slaves and interracial couples were not permitted to marry. Even after slavery was abolished, the union of interracial couples continued to be restricted in some states and areas until the 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning the ban on interracial marriage.

In response to the “outrageous nature” of the Mormon’s practise of polygamy, the US Supreme Court in 1878 finally got the government involved in the marriage, establishing it as a “civil contract regulated by law”. Over the next 100 years, most of the states created laws establishing the legal standard for the marriage contract and defining a “common-law marriage”, where a couple is considered legally married if they reside together for a certain amount of time and pass a few other tests for proof of co-habitation. From 1969 to 1985, divorce became the norm and most states provided for no-fault divorce, once again intruding upon the marriage contract, allowing it to be quickly and easily broken.

During World War II, between 1940 and 1942 over 1000 marriages happened every day on average as servicemen wed before going off to war. An entire industry was soon started, reinforced by the new invention, television, which promoted the “perfect” family to aspire to, not based upon reality but illusion. Statistics still measure a typical American family as having one parent and full of divorce, adultery, and over-worked parents.

In the beginning, a marriage was a private contract between two individuals, with all the rights and regulations spelled out between them. Why should the union of two people have anything to do with the government? This is not how it “always was” and it is not the way of governments in most of the world. In fact, the laws around marriage have been evolving and changing constantly, even in the US, as the social standards shift and change. The legal concept of marriage is new in the history of the world, so expect it to change, folks.

2 Comments

  • orit
    Posted July 3, 2005 at 11:11 | Permalink

    my non jewish boy friend and i who is jweish want to get legal married in israel do you know of a civil way?

    thank you

    Orit

  • Posted July 3, 2005 at 11:30 | Permalink

    Orit, if you are old enough to get married, and you have the blessing of the family, you will find a way. Many of my friends in Israel have, but I have no idea how it all works.

    I only know by what I’ve been told that Israel honors marriages made outside of the country, so some people fly to Greece or somewhere cheap and get married there.

    And many of my friends call themselves “married” but have no legal papers. To them it doesn’t matter. It’s just a paper. But there are other legal issues to consider such as inheritance and medical histories and information.

    I honestly believe that no one should get married until they are at least 25 years old and have been with their partner for at least three years and have traveled with them for at least one month, six weeks is better. And look at their family. That is your future. And your family is their future. Marriage is a complicated business and taken WAY too lightly and on the belief that LOVE will last in spite of marriage.

    Good luck, but don’t take any of this seriously. I have no clue how it works in Israel officially. You have to find that out for yourself.

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