Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Legal Implications of Marriage

In my response to Doug's post contemplating the pros and cons of ministers being agents of the state in performing marriage, I mentioned how nice it would be to have a list of the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage in the US.

I also mentioned that I'd never seen such a list which, as it turns out, was shamefully due to my own lack of looking.

In many respects, the list could be seen as the marriage contract itself, which makes me wonder how many people become aware of these before they marry.

"According to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are 1,138 statutory provisions in which marital status is a factor in determining benefits, rights, and privileges." In addition, there seems to be several hundred provisions in each state.

What may not be readily apparent is the core reasons why society allocates these various rights and responsibilities, and to what extent the government must be involved. There are a lot to go through and categorize, but I'm curious if any items stand out to you.

(1) Which items (should) discriminate by (differences in) gender? Is the act of sex or procreation relevant to any items?

(2) Which items (should) discriminate by count of spouses?

(3) Should individuals have the right to define membership in their union and family, with the government's rules merely respecting their definition?

(4) Should individuals and businesses have the right to discriminate based upon another's definition of "spouse" or "marriage" or "family" even if the government does not discriminate? e.g. based upon gender differences or sex or count?


Douglas said...

This is a topic that requires way more thought/time than I have right now. I do plan on getting to it, though. After encouraging you to post on the topic, I'd hate to abandon the discussion.

Kevin said...

No problem! I tried to pose the questions so I wouldn't have to spend as much time organizing it all up front. :) It is a big topic.

Thanks for the note.