Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Common Law Marriage And Same Sex Marriage

I got to thinking about same-sex marriage about the time I posted on the legality of Common Law marriage in Florida (it's not). While I don't agree with same sex marriage, I can see my thoughts changing. While some might say it's changing for the worse, I would prefer to say I'm maturing. It goes against my Christian upbringing, but for the life of me, I can't see how it would hurt me or my marriage in any way, shape, or form. And if I can't see how it would hurt me, why should I deny it to someone else?

There are those who think that allowing same sex marriage is contributing to a breakdown in values, but I've started thinking that maybe it helps to build values, not break them down. Are two men or two women who love each other and want to be together for the rest of their lives any different than a man and woman who want the same thing? At least they want a mature, legal, relationship instead of simply "shacking up." Remember the "Sexual Revolution" of the 60's when couples decided that they didn't want the legality of marriage? ("It's just a piece of paper.") Remember the shame of having a child or sibling who was "living in sin"? Sometimes these family members were disowned until they made the relationship legal. Now, it's pretty much accepted as a mainstream relationship.

Perhaps a return of common law marriage for same sex couples is a solution. Not an ultimate solution, I'm sure. But maybe it would be a start. I haven't researched it so I am reaching back quite a few years to remember the salient facts. The couple must be together for a period of at least seven years, use the same last name, and act as a married couple in all aspects (live together, have children (if they choose), joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, refer to each other as a spouse, assume financial responsibility for each other etc.,). There may be some other requirements, but I believe those are the highlights. And, after the required number of years they were legally a married couple. In order to dissolve the marriage they had to file for divorce just as any other married couple had to do.

Perhaps when a same sex couple decide they want a permanent relationship, they could apply at the local courthouse for a common law marriage license. It would give legality to the relationship, but appease (and I hate that word) those who are so fundamentally against same sex marriage because it is a "different" type of license. In all respects, it would be the same as a traditional marriage license. And yes, I know that under Common law, a marriage license is not necessary, much less required. I'm suggesting it simply to make same sex marriages legal from the beginning. In order to dissolve the marriage, the couple would have to file for divorce and be subject to the court system just as traditional couples are.

I know there are same sex marriage advocates who want nothing less than the same ability to marry as traditional couples have. Could they compromise with a license that gives those couples the same ability to marry and the benefits and responsibilties of traditional couples but is called something else? Call it a Partnership License or something else. I really don't care what it's called. Other than the religious considerations, I can't think of a reason why two men or two women shouldn't enjoy the same benefits and responsibilities that traditional married couple do.

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