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Comment by Brian Daurelle on August 4, 2012 at 6:41pm

Simply doing away with marriage as a government institution, as this picture seems to want to suggest, would not lead to a utopia of burden-free lovers who could choose to be bound religiously or just honor their comittment to each other privately. The institution of marriage is thoroughly bound up with the interests of any governing body because it regulates or represents a fundamental part of any society based on long-term relationships.  Of course, this means that any and all extraneous religious conditions, like the hetrosexuality requirement, should be disposed of immeadiately, but not that government should have no roll in it.  Two people deciding to commit to pooling all of their resources, as people who want to have a long-term relationship often do, are staking an enormous amount of trust in each other; despite the feel-good list of features in the 'relationship' category above, marriages often don't work out for mundane and petty reasons.  Should we trust the church that married a couple to oversee the division of a divorce settlement? Or let them hash it out, perhaps by starting a clan war? 

I feel that the creator of this image was unduly, and perhaps unconsciously, influenced by the inexplicable, unfounded and currently pervasive sentiment that government is basically bad.  What such an attitude forgets is that government is a contract between people that allows them to live in an orderly social world rather than in one of anarchy.  The only reason something like a 'goverment' can be said to exist is that everyone agrees that it does.  We give over a bit of our personal autonomy (the autonomy to do whatever we want, to whomever we want) in order to ensure that we won't get the short shrift when someone else wants to exercise their autonomy against us.  The fact that marriage has a lot to do with love, that you can paint an increadibly unrealistic and idealized portrait of it, has nothing to do with the fact that it is still a form of social contract and thus should fall under the domain of the institutions that we create for regulating such contracts. 

Comment by James Cox on August 4, 2012 at 11:45pm

Socially validated, personally commited, eroticism! Why what did you think it was!

Comment by Andrew on August 6, 2012 at 4:52pm

true, I concede that even while writing this infographic I had the issue of divorce litigation lurking in the back of my head. Going along with that is issues of inheritance upon death of a spouse. But these issues can be addressed using contracts that from a legal standpoint have nothing to do with the sexual/loving/parental nature of their relationship. (For the issue of inheritance we already have living wills, so that's taken care of, but for the issue of divorce property divisions, we could essentially have the opposite of a pre-nup; instead of married couples specifying in a pre-nup that they don't want their finances bound to each other (or w/e), they can specify in a "nup" (?) that they DO want their finances bound. And this kind of contract can be entered regardless of the nature of the relationship between the two people. France has something like this called PACS, although there's kind of an unwritten rule that you have to be in a sexual relationship to do it.)

In saying "should not exist," I was mostly focusing on the idea that married people get certain tax breaks to try to encourage people to get married. This kind of socially incentivizing tax break is wrong IMO, because: it doesn't allow social institutions to evolve over time, it restricts freedom (and not in a good way like you described above), and it punishes those living a certain perfectly-valid lifestyle.


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