Thursday, February 03, 2005

Another voice in the faint chorus

Babble on.

Brenda takes the skeletal idea I sketched out here, and puts some much-needed flesh on the bones:

Let two consenting adults (any two) sign a partnership contract agreeing to formalize financial and legal obligations to each other and to share assets and debts acquired from that time forward. In return for this commitment, state agrees to enforce this contract and to enforce certain rules regarding the relationship of this partnership with third parties like employers, banks, financial institutions, etc. (and even with itself, eg, with respect to taxation.) Due to the nature of the financial and legal commitments in the partnership, only one such partnership may be in effect at any time. You want another partnership? Then dissolve the one you currently have, according to the pre-defined rules of dissolution. (Get a divorce!). There would be a kind of boilerplate partnership contract, but the two adults would also be free to write in specific clauses per their own situation. (Sign that pre-nup!) Adults have unending (for 18 years at least) and onerous obligations to their children, whether biological or adopted. But the obligations to children are independent of the obligations of an adult to their "contractual partner" or to the child's other parent(s?).

I'm not sure why you couldn't extend that contract to more than two partners, as I suggested, but that's a quibble.

I also liked the way she boiled the practical issues down:

For me it comes down to a distinction between tolerance and acceptance. In the civil society in which we live we can ask people to tolerate many things with which they might not agree, as long as those things generally do no harm to others (recognizing that the phrase "generally do no harm to others" can be the subject of great debate). But we can't demand that people accept things which they may have very strong views against. We can ask people to tolerate homosexual relationships. We can't demand that everyone accept homosexual relationships as equal to heterosexual relationships. "Tolerating" is something we do and the way we act. "Accepting" is something we believe. (Babbler's bold)

But, as the Bear says about this wonderful solution to the marriage question, "That, of course, ain't going to happen." Problem with this solution is that it would never be seen as some kind of middle ground where everyone wins, but as a compromise where no one wins.

I couldn't agree more.

Now if I could only get Brenda to spell my name correctly...

Babble off.


At 10:17 a.m., Blogger Alan said...

I agree with your "quibble", except that I don't think it can be seen as a mere quibble. Brenda is trying to nip any polygamy issues in the bud by limiting the partnership to two persons. There is no such limitation in the common law or statute with respect to the admission of partners to a partnership that I know of. Nor is there, unless dictated by some non-competition clause in the contract itself, any overriding reason at common law to dictate that a person may not enter into a particular type of contractual relationship with more than one party at a time. If you are going to reduce marriage to a business contract, you are not entitled to place artificial boundaries on the contract based on ideas imported from other areas of the law.
Occam's Carbuncle


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