Marriage - A Matter of Conscience, Not Law

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EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#1
Sep 18, 2012
 
End all state registers of marriage. They are worse than unnecessary.
(Note registers of births and deaths would still be required).

Whether people are married or single should have nothing to do with the State. It should be solely a matter of conscience.

Common arguements against these assertions are:
What about taxes and state benefits?
(Why can't taxes be for single people and save duplication for when people are married? Benefits, in practice, are normally based on who is sharing accommodation, not surname. Two can live as cheaply as one only as regards housing costs. Whether they are married or not is irrelevant)

What about the law that says a wife needn't testify against her husband?
(Why shouldn't that apply to common-law wives, daughters, or fathers? And people can still be married)

What about inheritance law?(People should make wills)

What about children needing a family environment?
(People can still get married. They can have Church, secular or humanist marriages and share a surname).
Amused

Lowell, MA

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#2
Sep 18, 2012
 

Judged:

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EdSed wrote:
End all state registers of marriage. They are worse than unnecessary.
(Note registers of births and deaths would still be required).
Whether people are married or single should have nothing to do with the State. It should be solely a matter of conscience.
Common arguements against these assertions are:
What about taxes and state benefits?
(Why can't taxes be for single people and save duplication for when people are married? Benefits, in practice, are normally based on who is sharing accommodation, not surname. Two can live as cheaply as one only as regards housing costs. Whether they are married or not is irrelevant)
What about the law that says a wife needn't testify against her husband?
(Why shouldn't that apply to common-law wives, daughters, or fathers? And people can still be married)
What about inheritance law?(People should make wills)
What about children needing a family environment?
(People can still get married. They can have Church, secular or humanist marriages and share a surname).
Sorry, but I disagree. Marriage is at base a civil contract, not a religious sacrament. As such, civil authorities need to be in charge of regulating marriage. If you take civil authorities ouyt of the regulation of marriage, you cede the field to people who must consult their book of magic for rules about who can be married, who can be divorced,k if anyone, etc. Once you take civil authorities ouyt of the process, only the god-botherers are left to make the rules for what is a basic human impulse. No, thank you! I do not want the ignorati to have any say in any aspect of my life.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#3
Sep 19, 2012
 
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Sorry, but I disagree. Marriage is at base a civil contract, not a religious sacrament. As such, civil authorities need to be in charge of regulating marriage. If you take civil authorities ouyt of the regulation of marriage, you cede the field to people who must consult their book of magic for rules about who can be married, who can be divorced,k if anyone, etc. Once you take civil authorities ouyt of the process, only the god-botherers are left to make the rules for what is a basic human impulse. No, thank you! I do not want the ignorati to have any say in any aspect of my life.
Sorry, Amused. We usually seem to have almost exactly the same views, but I don't understand your arguments.

"Only [religionists] are left to make the rules" isn't the experience of the UK. There are lots of secular marriages available.
http://www.humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/humanis...

http://www.hrp.org.uk/Hireavenue/weddings/

Most weddings will be Church weddings if most of the population are religious - State involvement or none. Arguably, State involvement gives State-legitimacy to what would otherwise be religious ceremonies? Most weddings aren't religious in the UK. Most are secular.
Quote Guardian Newspaper, "In fact, in 1971, only 1 Scottish wedding in 3 was non-religious. Today, it's just over 1 in 2. And half of those didn't take place in civil registrars' offices at all, but in a place of the couple's choosing."

I don't understand what you mean by 'ceding the field'? Surely, if there is no State involvement, people can marry whoever they like in whatever setting they wish.

It is a personal commitment and simply has nothing to do with the State at all.

Surely the State shouldn't get involved in marriage without a clear and compelling reasons to do so? You don't seem to have stated even one good reason that I can see.

Are you suggesting that you want the State to dictate to religious groups who they can marry or divorce?

State involvement appears to be bureaucracy just for the expense of it?
Amused

Lowell, MA

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#4
Oct 4, 2012
 
EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>Sorry, Amused. We usually seem to have almost exactly the same views, but I don't understand your arguments.
"Only [religionists] are left to make the rules" isn't the experience of the UK. There are lots of secular marriages available.
http://www.humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/humanis...
http://www.hrp.org.uk/Hireavenue/weddings/
Most weddings will be Church weddings if most of the population are religious - State involvement or none. Arguably, State involvement gives State-legitimacy to what would otherwise be religious ceremonies? Most weddings aren't religious in the UK. Most are secular.
Quote Guardian Newspaper, "In fact, in 1971, only 1 Scottish wedding in 3 was non-religious. Today, it's just over 1 in 2. And half of those didn't take place in civil registrars' offices at all, but in a place of the couple's choosing."
I don't understand what you mean by 'ceding the field'? Surely, if there is no State involvement, people can marry whoever they like in whatever setting they wish.
It is a personal commitment and simply has nothing to do with the State at all.
Surely the State shouldn't get involved in marriage without a clear and compelling reasons to do so? You don't seem to have stated even one good reason that I can see.
Are you suggesting that you want the State to dictate to religious groups who they can marry or divorce?
State involvement appears to be bureaucracy just for the expense of it?
State involvement is fairly minimal. It sets some basic criteria for who can be married, the same way it sets minimum ages to be able to enter into any contract. It sets some basic rules about what happens when a marriage ends - how the children will be supported, who will have custody, how the property acquired during the marriage is divided fairly. Because of the emotions involved in most splits, without these rules and mechanisms to enforce them, very few people will make appropriate decisions about these things. Just ask any divorce lawyer. Most people in the process of divorce are acting on raw emotion, with the upper parts of their brains completely disengaged. The state provides a registration system so one can determine whether one is or is not legally married, and others can determine who is and is not married.

Legally, marriage is a contract. It confers property rights, inheritance rights, etc. and an orderly society needs rules about who owns what, who has what rights in a given parcel of land, etc. There need to be bright line rules for determining whether one is entering into that contract. It is really no different than allowing the state to set rules for creating a corporation and regulating how corporations can be dissolved.

Relationships are more fluid, with less defined boundaries. People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want, so long as they are old enough to appreciate the consequences of their choices. If some people choose to use religious rules to select and define their relationships, all well and good, until they insist on imposing those rules on people who don't subscribe to the underlying beliefs.

I don't see having no state involvement and no religious involvement in regulating the contract aspects of marriage as a viable alternative. Given a choice between defining marriage as a religious event governed under the rules of religion or as a civil matter, I'll take the bureaucrats over the clerics.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#5
Oct 5, 2012
 
All very good points, Amused.(And thanks again as I know we have covered some of this before somewhat). Please let me explain why am so sure that your view, which is representative of the majority, is so wildly incorrect.I could answer all of the points you raise, but I think the essential difference between us is in your line here..
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
State involvement is fairly minimal...
This is an incorrect public perception. I do not wish to try to apply the UK experience to the USA.(I am trying to keep the discussion applicable to ‘Western democratic’ societies).

There is nothing ‘minimal’ about state involvement in marriage. It is massive, expensive, chaotic and counter-productive and a direct result of state registers of marriage/civil partnership.

I worked as a civil servant and I can assure you that marriage is a huge operation as regards legislation, taxes and benefits. Many laws and almost all taxes and benefits need to be laid down for single people and again for married couples. This is an unnecessary duplication obviated by removal of state marriage/partnership records.

The state legislates for what happens when single people living together later separate and, once again, duplicates everything for if they are state-married – divorce lawyers aren't the people to ask about that as they make fortunes out of state marriage registers.

You wrote, "Legally, marriage is a contract. It confers property rights, inheritance rights, etc.."
Legislation must do that for single people anyway. If a couple want a legal contract, let them get one. "Living together as husband and wife" is a contract too. Cheaper all around and less open to challenge and legal complications.
http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/wales/relations...

Amused wrote: "I don't see having no state involvement and no religious involvement in regulating the contract aspects of marriage as a viable alternative."
Naturally, because that is the way it has always been. What society doesn’t acknowledge marriage in law? Almost none. That doesn’t make it a good idea.

If the tradition had always been that marriage had nothing to do with the state, people would be equally critical of any idea that the state should start marriage registers. They would be saying,“that is ridiculous! We have all these laws, rules, taxes and benefits and the proposal is to work them all out again according to whether people are married or single? That’s outrageous!”

Amused: "Given a choice between defining marriage as a religious event governed under the rules of religion or as a civil matter, I'll take the bureaucrats over the clerics."
That is not the choice. The choice is between legislating for single people alone (which has to be done anyway), or duplicating almost all legislation and companying bureaucracy and making it all more complicated too (traditional and logical in religious societies).

I think that if we had never had state registers of marriage the suggestion that they should now be introduced would be vociferously denounced as 'un-USAmerican' and an obviously ridiculous waste of money.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

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#6
Oct 5, 2012
 
So why not take the term marriage out of all government paperwork?

That is, "marriage" is an issue precisely because it is a term used by both civil authorities and by religious ritual.

Honestly, religion has probably had the term longer, but whether or not that's true, they will not let go of it, ever.

So, just remove the term "marriage" from all governmental associations. The government doesn't really care if I'm "married" to my wife or not, they care about the legal status of my relationship only so far as taxes, rights of suvivorship, medical decision accountability, etc.

For government purposed, I could just as well have a civil union with my wife and that's all they should care about. Whether or not I also use any religous ritual to "marry" should not be the government's concern.

It's almost a joke anyway -- This past April my daughter got married here in Georgia. She wanted a secular ceremony so I got a friend of mine who is a Humanist Celebrant in South Carolina to perform the ritual. As he was not registered in Georgia, I called the county authority where we were planning to hold the ceremony and asked them how they interpreted the state statute requiring the ceremony be performed by a "recognized religious leader". The official answer was that they (the county government) did NOT get into deciding such things and would accept any properly filled out marriage form.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#7
Oct 5, 2012
 
Hedonist wrote:
So why not take the term marriage out of all government paperwork?
That is, "marriage" is an issue precisely because it is a term used by both civil authorities and by religious ritual.
Honestly, religion has probably had the term longer, but whether or not that's true, they will not let go of it, ever.
So, just remove the term "marriage" from all governmental associations. The government doesn't really care if I'm "married" to my wife or not, they care about the legal status of my relationship only so far as taxes, rights of suvivorship, medical decision accountability, etc.
For government purposed, I could just as well have a civil union with my wife and that's all they should care about. Whether or not I also use any religous ritual to "marry" should not be the government's concern.
It's almost a joke anyway -- This past April my daughter got married here in Georgia. She wanted a secular ceremony so I got a friend of mine who is a Humanist Celebrant in South Carolina to perform the ritual. As he was not registered in Georgia, I called the county authority where we were planning to hold the ceremony and asked them how they interpreted the state statute requiring the ceremony be performed by a "recognized religious leader". The official answer was that they (the county government) did NOT get into deciding such things and would accept any properly filled out marriage form.
Exactly.

It is not a matter of whether the marriage is religious or not. That should be a matter of conscience and nothing to do with the state. So why (specifically) have all the laws, taxes & benefits for single people duplicated for those with 'married' status?

Name one good reason.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#8
Oct 5, 2012
 
As a point of interest, I spoke to some Scottish Humanist Celebrants. They said they would be quite happy to do polygamous marriages. This may sound outrageous to people in the USA where polygamous marriages are naturally associated with suppression of women's equality and rights, if not with outright abuse of women per se. That is perhaps the real reason polygamy is illegal in the USA, not only because of the virulence of religion there.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php...

In Scotland, by contrast, the example given for consideration was a (true, real) instance where a man lived 'happily' in 'unoffical marriage' with two women. The British (and Australian, NZ etc) authorities can't recognise the marriage as legal. So the man was legally married to only one woman.

Another relevant point, I think...
In the UK, a benefits claimant can claim for several wives as long as he can produce a marriage certificate showing his marriages were all legal in the country where the marriages were state-recognised as legitimate. A Brit Muslim of Pakistani origin with three wives, for instance, can claim benefits for himself and his two other wives. The two other wives are treated as his dependents. No woman can make such a claim to benefits as I don't think there is any country where a woman can legally have more than one husband -(certainly not Pakistan or any Muslim or Western one).

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

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#9
Oct 5, 2012
 
EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>Exactly.
It is not a matter of whether the marriage is religious or not. That should be a matter of conscience and nothing to do with the state. So why (specifically) have all the laws, taxes & benefits for single people duplicated for those with 'married' status?
Name one good reason.
I'm not sure I understand your question.

Are you asking why the government needs some kind of legally binding affidavit for deciding suvivorship benefits or who has medical decision rights in coma cases and things like that? These are legitimate legal concerns.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#10
Oct 5, 2012
 
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm not sure I understand your question.
Are you asking why the government needs some kind of legally binding affidavit for deciding suvivorship benefits or who has medical decision rights in coma cases and things like that? These are legitimate legal concerns.
“So why (specifically) have all the laws, taxes & benefits for single people duplicated for those with 'married' status?” & “Name one good reason” weren’t questions aimed at you specifically, H, but anyone who thinks they have such a reason.

You mention,“suvivorship benefits or who has medical decision rights in coma cases and things like that?”
The point I wish to make is that such laws are already laid down for single people and, naturally, societies may require a spouse’s right to take precedence over those on marriage.(Legitimate concerns, as you say). Formerly, the legislation had to differentiate between three statuses ‘single’,‘legally married’ and ‘other marriages’, such as those who are considered to have been living together as husband and wife (in the UK called LTAHW cases) and other exceptions like the Brit Muslim gentleman I mentioned in post 8. There are many other cases of ‘other marriage’. Now there is a fourth legal classification: legally recognised ‘civil partnership’. Exactly how do registers of marriage & civil partnership help? It would simplify the law if legislation was for ‘single’ and ‘other’ marriages that are recognised for the purpose of this specific law. What precisely 'marriage' means has to be laid down for each law anyway. Doing away with registers of marriage would eliminate the ‘legally married’ and ‘legal civil partnership’ categories - reducing the number of categories from four to two.
Amused

Lowell, MA

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#11
Oct 6, 2012
 
EdSed wrote:
You wrote, "Legally, marriage is a contract. It confers property rights, inheritance rights, etc.."
Legislation must do that for single people anyway. If a couple want a legal contract, let them get one. "Living together as husband and wife" is a contract too. Cheaper all around and less open to challenge and legal complications.
...
I guess my point boils down to the need for predictability in property rights. If every grouping of people is allowed to define their own mutual rights in property, there's no way for subsequent purchasers to be confident that they are getting good title.(you'll have to forgive me, but I have a legal background, so I tend to think in those terms) For example, if I buy a piece of land from a married couple and they both sign the deed, I can be confident that I have acquired all the interests in the land. If I buy land from a single person, I know I need just the one signature. If someone dies and has a will, I can read the will that has been allowed to probate and know who the heirs are who now own the property. If they die without a will, the heirs are those designated by the law by default.

Now imagine a system where a group of 4 people could designate themselves as married, with no system to register who is married, or to record the contract under which they agree to share property.
How does someone purchasing property under a deed signed by two of them know with confidence that they can convey the entire property? Don't forget, title examiners go back many years before declaring a title good. If every couple/group can make their own rules, they may be able to show their contract to the next purchaser, but what happens 50 or 60 years later, when someone who is several transactions removed from them tries to sell, and none of the parties to the contract are alive?

Orderly transfer of property requires predictable rules. Allowing every couple to set their own rules introduces enough uncertainty into the process to make the now simple task of deciding if a seller's title is good into a Sisifusian task. Or else, people would have to publicly register their contracts, which brings the bureaucrats back into the picture, with hordes of lawyers drafting the agreements as a whole other layer of complication.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#12
Oct 8, 2012
 
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
....Now imagine a system where a group of 4 people could designate themselves as married, with no system to register who is married, or to record the contract under which they agree to share property.
....
This is the opposite of what I am suggesing.

You wrote, "If every couple/group can make their own rules.."
(What??:-)

People (as far as I can see) will designate themselves as married with or without marriage registers. At the moment, the state doesn’t only recognise people on the state registers as married. There are other types of marriage that are recognised,(as per my links and comments above). Some long-term relationships are considered a marriage by the state when the couple consider themselves to be singles. And some people who consider themselves married can find themselves legally single because the nature of their marriage isn’t registered in law.

People at the moment put their names on a state m-register. All I am saying is that they really need a document to clarify who owns what property, as well as who they wish to inherit it if they die – i.e. a will.

If there are any problems in the USA with a single person’s title to a property, it is that which needs resolution – nothing to do with marriage registers.(Resolution is urgently needed, by the sound of it).

As far as inheriting property is concerned, the whole process should be simplified. My favored solution is for all property owned by people over 18 to go to their parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or then the state - unless they have made a will and had it properly notarised. A ‘do it yourself state on-line will’ ought to be available (instead of m-registers) so that anyone can make a will cheaply. Not good news for lawyers and would undermine the need for many bureaucrats.

The problem in the USA,(by the sound of it) is how to know with any kind of certainty who owns what property. If people make a will instead of signing a state m-register, they simply need to change the name of their next-of-kin on their will. That,(by the sound of it) will vastly improve the situation in the USA and save everyone (but lawyers and bureaucrats) a fortune.

I am looking at the waste caused by unnecessary bureaucracy.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#13
Oct 8, 2012
 
The change should be to consider the state uninterested in marriage altogether. One law for all, regardless of marital status, sex, religion, ethnicity, or anything else. Only citizenship and whether one is of legal age should count.

It is a mistake to try to legislate for relationships (or 'belief systems') and the more the state tries to do it the more complex (and therefore unsatisfactory) the result.
Amused

Lowell, MA

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#14
Oct 9, 2012
 
EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>This is the opposite of what I am suggesing.
You wrote, "If every couple/group can make their own rules.."
(What??:-)
People (as far as I can see) will designate themselves as married with or without marriage registers. At the moment, the state doesn’t only recognise people on the state registers as married. There are other types of marriage that are recognised,(as per my links and comments above). Some long-term relationships are considered a marriage by the state when the couple consider themselves to be singles. And some people who consider themselves married can find themselves legally single because the nature of their marriage isn’t registered in law.
People at the moment put their names on a state m-register. All I am saying is that they really need a document to clarify who owns what property, as well as who they wish to inherit it if they die – i.e. a will.
If there are any problems in the USA with a single person’s title to a property, it is that which needs resolution – nothing to do with marriage registers.(Resolution is urgently needed, by the sound of it).
As far as inheriting property is concerned, the whole process should be simplified. My favored solution is for all property owned by people over 18 to go to their parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or then the state - unless they have made a will and had it properly notarised. A ‘do it yourself state on-line will’ ought to be available (instead of m-registers) so that anyone can make a will cheaply. Not good news for lawyers and would undermine the need for many bureaucrats.
The problem in the USA,(by the sound of it) is how to know with any kind of certainty who owns what property. If people make a will instead of signing a state m-register, they simply need to change the name of their next-of-kin on their will. That,(by the sound of it) will vastly improve the situation in the USA and save everyone (but lawyers and bureaucrats) a fortune.
I am looking at the waste caused by unnecessary bureaucracy.
Making a will works with people who hold property until they die. However, most people sell while they are still alive. Under the present system, one need only know whether the seller is married or not. If not, their notarized signature alone is sufficient to convey good title. If they are married, one need's the signature of the spouse waiving their interest in the property to convey good title. Since marriage is a one size fits all contract, there is certainty that can be relied on. If every couple is able to negotiate their own contract, and the contracts are different, that certainty evaporates. Poorly drafted contracts which are ambiguous are quite common. Reasonable minds often differ on the meaning of contractual provisions. All of which leads to uncertainty. The system of conveyances of real property is based on certainty and predictability. This is as much true in the UK as in the US, since the history of common law property rules is essentially the history of English tax evasion. Trusts were devised to evade royal taxes, and were countered by the rule against perpetutities, for example. Taking real estate law from the realm where one set of rules applies to everyone to a world where everyone is free to make up their own rules would certainly complicate real property law beyond the point where even lawyers could say with confidence that X acquired an unencumbered title from Y, which will make it difficult for X to sell the property to A, who demands clear title before he buys.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#15
Oct 11, 2012
 
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Making a will works with people who hold property until they die. However, most people sell while they are still alive.
So, we agree that m-registers aren't necessary for the purposes of determining inheritance of property.
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Under the present system, one need only know whether the seller is married or not. If not, their notarized signature alone is sufficient to convey good title. If they are married, one need's the signature of the spouse waiving their interest in the property to convey good title.
This might suggest that doing away with m-registers would simplify the system as I suggest? Everyonoe would be single, in law.
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Since marriage is a one size fits all contract, there is certainty that can be relied on. If every couple is able to negotiate their own contract, and the contracts are different, that certainty evaporates.[/quote]So, regardless of m-registers, what is needed is a standard 'joint-ownership definition in law' that works for all joint-owners, instead of only for those who are married?

[QUOTE who="Amused"]<quo ted text>
Poorly drafted contracts which are ambiguous are quite common.
Exactly. That is what needs to be resolved and m-registers don't do that. They only simplify matters under current circumstances sometimes, i.e. when people are married?
Amused wrote:
<quoted text>
Reasonable minds often differ on the meaning of contractual provisions. All of which leads to uncertainty. The system of conveyances of real property is based on certainty and predictability. This is as much true in the UK as in the US, since the history of common law property rules is essentially the history of English tax evasion. Trusts were devised to evade royal taxes, and were countered by the rule against perpetutities, for example. Taking real estate law from the realm where one set of rules applies to everyone to a world where everyone is free to make up their own rules would certainly complicate real property law beyond the point where even lawyers could say with confidence that X acquired an unencumbered title from Y, which will make it difficult for X to sell the property to A, who demands clear title before he buys.
You keep saying, "make up their own rules". What rules are you suggesting they might make up? Can you name one? Why would anyone care what rules individuals make up if they don't have any force in law? As I say, people are married socially, but not in law and vice versa - i.e. they make up their own rules now. We aren't discussion made-up rules.

I'll clearly need to give this more thought, but are you saying that if two people jointly own a property and they are not married, it creates problems in determining ownership? That is how it appears. In the UK at one point, people seemed to be encouraging joint-ownership schemes.
Amused

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#16
Oct 13, 2012
 
EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>So, we agree that m-registers aren't necessary for the purposes of determining inheritance of property.
<quoted text>This might suggest that doing away with m-registers would simplify the system as I suggest? Everyonoe would be single, in law.
<quoted text>Exactly. That is what needs to be resolved and m-registers don't do that. They only simplify matters under current circumstances sometimes, i.e. when people are married?
<quoted text>You keep saying, "make up their own rules". What rules are you suggesting they might make up? Can you name one? Why would anyone care what rules individuals make up if they don't have any force in law? As I say, people are married socially, but not in law and vice versa - i.e. they make up their own rules now. We aren't discussion made-up rules.
I'll clearly need to give this more thought, but are you saying that if two people jointly own a property and they are not married, it creates problems in determining ownership? That is how it appears. In the UK at one point, people seemed to be encouraging joint-ownership schemes.
Marriage is a civil contract. It gives both partners certain
rights in the property of the other. For example, you cannot, where I live, cut your spouse out of your will. If you do, the spouse left nothing in the will has a right to claim 1/3 of the estate by statute. In community property states, spouses have to sign off on conveyances of property acquired during the marriage. If they don't, the purchaser's title to the property is clouded, and subject to rights of the non-signing spouse in the property which were not released.

Because of these rights, there needs to be a bright line test as to who is married and who is not. If just living together for a certain period makes you married, people risk ending up in a legal relationship they did not intend. Whether the bright line is registering the marriage with a civil authority, going through some formal ceremony, or signing a contract, there needs to be a clear division between those who are married, and intend to assume all the rights and responsibilities of that contract, and those who choose a relationship which is less formal, and gives the partners less interest in each other's property.

There needs to be some way others can verify who is married and who is not. The normal title search goes back 100 or more years, long after the parties to some of the transactions are dead. So there need to be public records that can be consulted to verify status.

There are many other contexts where a bright line is needed. In US immigration law, immediate relatives of citizens, including spouses, can be brought into the US as lawful permanent residents. The burden is on the citizen spouse to prove that there is a valid marriage. Not so easy to do if there's no government office you can go to to procure a copy of the marriage certificate. Many pension plans have survivor's benefits for spouses who outlive the pensioner. The benefits go only to spouses, not other domestic partners. Absent some registration system, how does one prove surviving spouse status? Most of those plans were based on actuarial projections that did not take domestic partnerships into account, and changing the rules to broaden the base of eligible payees would bankrupt the plan. So just opening up the plan to domestic partners is not an option.
EdSed

Wishaw, UK

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#17
Oct 15, 2012
 
Thanks for this exchange, Amused, much appreciated. I've noted the objections to doing away with marriage registers and don't think it is constructive to go through all of them individually.

I'm afraid I retain the clear impression that if there had never been any state marriage registers, then there would be even more objections to their introduction now than there are objections to their conclusion.
Amused

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#18
Oct 21, 2012
 

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EdSed wrote:
Thanks for this exchange, Amused, much appreciated. I've noted the objections to doing away with marriage registers and don't think it is constructive to go through all of them individually.
I'm afraid I retain the clear impression that if there had never been any state marriage registers, then there would be even more objections to their introduction now than there are objections to their conclusion.
Just chalk it up to the fact that atheists are not some monolithic bloc, but highly individual. And that we can agree to disagree without having some kind of jihad.

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