ndnickerson: (ad-moleman)
[personal profile] ndnickerson
I'm sure I'm being naive here--and that anyone who thinks so will tell me.

Anecdotal evidence puts the divorce rate in this country (the USA) at 50%, so half of all marriages fail. Many people my age (early 30s) have at least one failed marriage in their pasts. This isn't considered unusual. The institution of marriage is said to be endangered by the threat of same-sex marriage, although clearly the failure rate of opposite-sex marriage doesn't reflect so well on it either.

I think it's time for us to all rethink things.

A few scenarios:

A) Two people of either gender meet, fall in love, and decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together.

B) Two people meet, and Person A is evicted and needs somewhere to stay. Person B agrees to let Person A stay with Person B. A and B live together for some time and decide that the arrangement works well for both of them; whether they fall in love or not is incidental. Neither believes in the institution of marriage, and they have no interest in making a lifetime commitment, but cohabitation makes sense. However, this arrangement means that neither has any relationship-based rights under current laws.

C) Person A is elderly, has no surviving family, and has never married. Person A meets Person B, who is several years younger and would like to take care of Person A, as A is unable to do so without help. A and B have mutual affection and love for each other, although that love is not romantic. This arrangement means that neither has any relationship-based rights; any rights (power of attorney, etc.) are not relationship-based, only legal.

I think we need to take the law out of marriage and come up with a new institution: legal domestic partnership.

Legal domestic partnership:
-would have nothing to do with love.
-would not depend on the gender of either party.
-would have nothing to do with marriage, as in could be in place without marriage.
-would bestow all the legal rights currently granted to married people.
-would be a legal partnership of finite length.
-would institute penalties for dissolution of the partnership before the contractual length agreed upon between the parties.
-would dissolve upon the death of one of the parties.

Finite length! Yep!

This is what I mean by that.

D) Person A and B might meet when they are both seventeen years old, and fall madly in love. They want to be together forever. They swear they will never, ever fall out of love. They want to be married, and legally bound forever.

A and B go to the courthouse and file for domestic partnership. The length can be anywhere from six months to five years for the first filing. They know they will be together forever, so they elect for a five-year domestic partnership agreement.

After the length of the contract has elapsed, they have to go back to the courthouse and file for another domestic partnership agreement or renewal thereof, but all contract renewals after the second can last up to ten years. If they do not file, the domestic partnership dissolves and they are no longer legally joined. If either party is unwilling to refile, the partnership dissolves.

But let's say that, in scenario D, domestic partnership is not enough. They want to be married, damn it.

Person A and B have the right to hold a ceremony in the locale of their choice, with an officiant or friend who is willing to marry them if they so choose, and swear eternal love and fidelity. The ceremony does not necessarily need to be religious, and it carries no legal significance. No filing for a marriage license would be required.

In scenario A, the couple could decide to become domestic partners, married, or both.

In scenario B, the couple does not believe in marriage, but they could become domestic partners, which would carry the same legal significance marriage does now.

In scenario C, the two people would enter into a domestic partnership.

In scenario D, the couple could decide to become domestic partners, married, or both.

Let's say that in scenario A, the couple opts for a domestic partnership. After eight months, they realize that they cannot live together happily. They dissolve the domestic partnership and any contractual penalty comes into effect.

Before two people could sign a lease together with the intent to live together, they would need to file for a domestic partnership which would last for the duration of the lease. This would protect people who otherwise have no legal recourse.

If infidelity is to be considered an acceptable reason to dissolve the partnership, it would need to be stated in the domestic partnership agreement. If the relationship is considered "open," infidelity would not be addressed in the agreement. A conservative boilerplate and a liberal boilerplate version could be developed for those who prefer a more "marriage"-like partnership, and those who do not.

Okay. I know that if this model would work, someone would already have come up with it. It just makes sense to me, because it takes those who believe same-sex couples should not be married out of the equation; those people are members of religious groups which object on those grounds, and leaders in those denominations would not officiate over same-sex marriages anyway. No more "starter marriages" - I'd say that seventeen-year-olds should only be allowed a one-year domestic partnership license anyway. If they get along splendidly, great; they file for a longer partnership. If they examine their relationship and find it isn't working, they dissolve the partnership and if asked, say they either completed a partnership, or didn't (if they opted out early). If asked whether they were ever married before, that would be an entirely different question.

As it is, I'm most likely going to be in scenario C, if any of the above, and I like the idea of being able to designate someone basically as my next of kin even if he or she is not.
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