Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gay Marriage Is Ruled Legal in Connecticut

The Connecticut supreme court certainly did the right thing. But what I think is most interesting about the case was that
it was the first state high court ruling to hold that civil union statutes specifically violated the equal protection clause of a state constitution.
Civil unions, according to the court, violate the equal protection clause because they are not called marriage and only heterosexual couples are eligible to be married. That creates an obvious way out of this culture clash. Connecticut (and all other states) should simply stop "marrying" people. Then there won't be any such thing as state-defined marriage that only heterosexual couples can enter.

Let states issue civil union certificates to any couple who are otherwise qualified. There is no need for the state to define what marriage means. If religious organizations want to do that, let them. It's not the state's business. What matters legally are the rights and privileges defined by a civil union. Let the state worry about that issue, and let others worry about the word marriage.

This would also solve the problem of the marriage penalty. Since there would be no legally defined marriages, there would be no married filing status. Of course the federal government could change the tax law so that anyone in a civil union would pay at the married rate. But I'll bet it would be very hard for congress to do that!

Debora asked what would happen if in a religious ceremony someone married multiple partners—but took only one of them as a civil partner. Would that be considered polygamy? What if a married couple who were also civil partners dissolved their civil partnership but not their marriage—or vice versa? What about a Catholic couple who remain married in the church but divorced civilly? And what if one or both of them hooked up civilly with other partners, while still remaining married in the church? Would religious marriages have any weight in intestate estates?

One could imagine all sorts of issues that would arise. But it would be interesting to explore them.

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