Church, The State and Marriage, whee!

bitbitch bitbitch at
Mon Nov 24 10:58:34 PST 2003

I think the problem is, that most people _don't_ designate.  If you 
check out the number of probate cases alone, you'll quickly come to 
understand that people really don't plan this nonsense out, and then 
they go cry about it in the courts later.  Simply eliminating the 
priviledges (as in spousal priviledge and joint filing) is great and 
good, but replacing it would be insane.  You'd have every mob boss 
becoming the close personal friend to the guy on trial -- and thus 
exempted from testifying.

Next of kin is generally a legal concept determined by statute (c.f., 
the Copyright Act w/r/t termination/renewal rights).  Normally, this is 
laid out in a statute and its -very- strict.  And yes, it usually 
includes 'widow/widower'.   You'd have to have a wholesale revamp of 
statutory law to fix this.  There is very seldom, a friends clause.  And 
many (but not all!) of these statutes are not assignable. The Copyright 
Act that I alluded to above is one such statute.  I believe probate 
works the same way.  Merely 'eliminating' these things are damn near 

And don't even get me started on the weird State nuances...


You said:

There wasn't much in that thread to convince that
the state has to stay so entangled in marriage.
Every issue mentioned has a fairly straightforward
solution. Spousal privilege in criminal trials?
Eliminate it, or extend it to designated friends
and partners. Survivor benefits? Let them be
freely designated. Joint filing? Eliminate it. (Or
better yet, eliminate the income tax.) Next-of-kin
rights? Let these be easily designated. Legal
issues for progeny? There already are a lot of
children of parents who never tied the knot, and
the legal system has to deal with that.

All of these issues have to be addressed for people
who aren't married, though now, some involve a
degree of difficulty, and some offer limited
choices. Eliminating marriage as a legal notion would
require making a lot of the legal consequences of
marriage easily acquired by those who want it,
e.g., declaring who is your legal next of kin, who
has your survivor benefits, etc. That social change
would significantly benefit those who are NOT now
married. It might also benefit those who want to
marry, by giving them a bit more flexibility in
how they think about the legal consequences of that.

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