Monday, February 13, 2012


My neighbors to the north just declared the shocking fact that boys who like boys like to get married to boys and girls who like girls like to get married to girls and that's pretty much okay with them.

Now I understand that the "conservative" enemies of all things not-heterosexual are declaring that they will "refer" this new law to the ballot in November so the homo-hatin' good people of Washington state can hate them on some homos and save the precious institution of marriage for other good people like the Kardashians.

Or something.

And then the people who want to get married will file a lawsuit. And then the entire damn thing will get played out in court. Over and over, all the way up to the Supreme Court, I assume, who will probably in the sort of steal-bread-and-sleep-under-bridges wisdom they are famed for will decide they don't know what the good people of Washington should do but that homos eating wedding cake is icky.

Well, fuck.

Is there a point where we can stop going through this ridiculous kabuki? I mean, pretty much every constitution from the federal on down says "you don't get to pick legal rights based on X" where X includes race, religion, hat size, etc.So the eventual defense for these sorts of lets-write-our-bigotry-into-law always seems to come down to "ooooh, icky!" (Dahlia Lithwick sums up the particular version used in the defense of CA Prop.8 nicely here)

The Supremes will continue to tap dance around this so long as the SCOTUS reactionaries draw breath, but eventually somebody will have to accept that the constitutions say what they say, and that if you extend the legal right to co-sign a loan to the hets you gotta do the same thing for the gays and pretty much everyone else of legal age. How freaking hard is that?That civil and criminal law, that government-provided penalties and services shouldn't be based on what you think is icky but merely what serves the people of the United States, and the various states, best, and that a legal contract - and let's just call it "marriage" because, well, that's what it is - is a legal contract, regardless of how squicky the things that the co-signers do in bed makes you feel.

It won't mean that the Catholic Church, or any other church that hates them on some icky homos, will have to marry them.Just that a church that doesn't, can, and the scrap of paper they will get will carry the full faith and credit of the issuing authority and let them do all the things that any other couple can; spend stupid money on crap they don't need, have screaming fights that piss off the neighbors and frighten the cat, raise a loving family, get old together, and end up broke in a rundown retirement home changing each others' adult diapers.

So in effect the only real, long-term result of this ridiculous bullshit waste of time is that a lot of gay people will have to ride in the back of the bus for many years.And how effed up is that?


Ael said...

Personally, I think that civil government should not be in the marriage business. Their milieu is property and contract law.

They should do joint household partnerships concerning division of chattel in event of a breakup.

If you want a marriage, go to your church (or jump over a broom together). If you want a divorce, throw the bum's shoes out the front door. However, to break your property agreement, you gotta follow whatever arbitration process your contract specifies and failing that, go to court.

For purposes of contract law, children are chattel, but I'm not sure I 100% agree with that. Perhaps they should automatically become household partners in the agreement. Thus, the court would give them standing in the breakup of the household. After all, it is *their* home too, why shouldn't they have a voice?

Leon said...

What amount of standing would you give a 5yr old? Or a 12yr old? What happens if a 7yr old demands that 'mommy' and 'daddy' must stay together?

Making them partners in the household I think could prove troublesome. There's (supposedly) a reason we don't give them the vote until 18 (depending on where you live).

FDChief said...

Ael: Agreed. The state's interest is purely legal; there simply needs to be some sort of registry regarding who is a legal "entity" for the purposes of things like contracts, heirs and assigns, and power of attorney.

If I were King of Washington I'd get the State entirely out of the "marriage" business; instead you'd get a "certificate of domestic partnership" for your little five-person multiple domestic group.

And you could then go be "married" however you chose.

The kiddos are a problem, because they have no legal standing, especially if they are really young, and I cannot see a way of solving that. I don't like the business of kids as chattel, but I can't see an alternative.

Leon: As noted are a problem under law. A five-year-old or about 95% of 7-year-olds can't understand any of the issues involved in things like divorce or orphanage. But twelve? You're starting to get close to legal understanding in some kids.

I think there's really two issues here, though.

First is the question of simple public rights under the law. If the state cannot restrict access to the public's use of both public and certain private facilities - contracts, credit, material goods - based on things like race, creed, or gender, there seems no grounds for restriction based on sexual affiliation. If a white man and a hispanic woman can become a legal entity under the law of the State of Washington, how can the state rule that a white woman and a hispanic woman cannot? To me it is a simple matter of equal justice under law.

This will not and cannot solve problems like custody and divorce; gay couples and anyone else who forms a domestic partnership will run into all sorts of fucked up situations that fall under the general heading of "tough cases make bad law". But the fact that a gay person may die in a multiple vehicle accident seems thin grounds to prohibit him or her from getting a driver's license.

Ael said...

Normally, when one party terminates a contract, the other parties don't have a say in the decision to terminate. However, they do have a say in the division of assets in the partnership.

Thus, a 5 year old could not demand that mommy and daddy stay together (just like daddy could not demand that mommy continue to live together). However, a 5 year old *does* have a stake in the division of assets (and a continuing lien on both mommy and daddy for support till they are 18)

Therefore, children should be represented as parties to the agreement when it goes in front of the judge. You can't rely on the parents to do what is best for the child as it is a conflict of interest.

Obviously, there would be questions of who would represent the child. (I am thinking that grandparents might have a role here, but there are problems with that too.) In the case where there was nobody who could speak for the child without being paid to do so, there is also the question of who would pay for the above representation.

All those thorny questions, I wave off as mere legal details to be worked out as appropriate in each jurisdiction.

Pluto said...

While I agree completely with Ael, I doubt that anybody involved in a divorce with young children will be able to think straight about the children as "legal details."

I've seen far too many insane court battles over child custody with the parents willingly violating the law multiple times to ensure that their children will never love their ex-spouse.