Saturday, June 9, 2007

Politics and Sacred marriage

We seem to be entering that stage of the presidential campaign when all of the major candidates of both major parties think about what lies they can get away with in the course of deceiving the voters about what they really believe.

Today I was going through my mail and found a solicitation from one of these contenders whose been accused of flip-flopping on certain issues. (Shock, shock!) Anyhow, as part of the pitch, this candidate says "I've said repeatedly that marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman." Let's assume for the sake of argument that this position is true. The problem is that "a sacred institution" means a religious institution, and under the First Amendment of the Constitution, the government shouldn't be regulating religious institutions.

I believe that a two part solution is needed here.

First, because marriage is a sacred institution between whomever whatever any particular religious group tolerates, Government should get out of the marriage business altogether. Marriage is historically a private contract issue (with government simply interpreting and enforcing the contract) and should be returned to that status, the contract defining the relationship. If religions want to sanction some private sacred rite as a marriage, they should do so, letting their own religious principles determine what sort of marriage they sanction or consider sacred.

Second, Government should recognize the idea of a social corporation, in which any number of individuals in any combination of relationships choose to be identified as a single entity. The idea is similar to that of a commercial corporation. Multiple individuals each own some portion of the corporation, but legally the corporation is a single entity. The social corporation would function in a similar manner, a group of individuals establish a legal relationship amongst themselves that governs how they relate to each other, determines the obligations each owes the others, and provides that when a member of the social corporation dies that person's assets continue to belong to the surviving members of the social corporation (subject to any pre-negotiated merger agreement.)

The government should not recognize private marriages in any of its legislation but if it wants to confer some sort of recognition or legal obligations or benefits on group entities, they should restrict such activity to social corporations. Businesses should voluntarily follow the same policy when it comes to employee benefits and restrict such benefits to social corporations and not to partners in a sacred marriage. Of course, participants in a sacred marriage can also choose to voluntarily enter into a social corporation arrangement if they want to receive some sort of government or business recognition for their relationships.

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