Marriage Madness- No Regulations? Douglas Winslow , ph.D. @ Ronrambles



Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.


Why should government have any laws restricting marriage? The current uproar and Supreme Court hearings on “gay marriage” have brought this question to the fore.

 Marriage is an enforceable contract, much like articles of incorporation, where the parties take on certain responsibilities in return for certain prerogatives. Government gets involved when enforcement becomes called for, often where issues arise concerning children, property, separation, divorce, serious illness or death.Valid contracts require “informed consent” of the parties. Government requires that both parties are old enough to give such informed consent, with various age limits applied in various states. Informed consent requires that both parties are capable of reasoning, thus the mental status of participants may be part of marriage criteria…those in mental institutions or otherwise judged to be non compos mentis cannot make binding contracts.


“Consent” must be voluntary. Contracts that seem to have been obtained through coercion are invalid, despite the tradition of “shotgun weddings.” Where undue influence may prevail, such as father-daughter or mother-son pairings, the state assumes the consent is not wholly voluntary.Government also precludes marriages that are likely to produce offspring that are genetically impaired, one of the justifications for ruling out parent-offspring and brother-sister marriages.The marriage contract is intended to bind both parties to advancing their mutual welfare and providing for the care of children, should they be products of the marriage. Government gains from this mutual-protection aspect of marriage and in return grants certain tax and other financial and legal advantages to those who are married. Government may even wish to subsidize marriage to increase the population growth, for various reasons.


Homosexual couples can obtain most of the legal benefits of marriage through civil union contracts in many states and through marriage in nine states currently. The Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] allows states and the federal government to determine the extent to which the non-granting entities will recognize and enforce these contracts as being full-fledged “marriages.”Given the increasing rates of divorce over the past few decades, why would some gay advocates be so eager to promote “gay marriage”? In some cases, they seek to get the legal benefits, and in others, they want the legitimacy that marriage grants their pairings.


Those who oppose “gay marriage” do so, at least in part, because they do not want to encourage such pairings with the benefits that the “marriage” status supplies and because they do not want to grant legitimacy to a practice they find abhorrent. Some fear that redefining marriage this way opens the door to polygamy, polyandry, “polyamory,” incest, and other situations they deem undesirable. They also would prefer that children have two parents still together,  one parent of each gender, although that is becoming increasingly less common. Even though single parents and gay parents often raise children successfully, such situations are thought less beneficial for children, in general.


We have known for millennia what “marriage” is. We redefine it at our risk. Words have legal meanings: taxation is not exactly theft, and theft is not merely indefinitely prolonged borrowing. Marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman who are eligible to form such a contract and have it enforced.




Dr. Cooper is a retired environmental scientist, now a free-lance writer, author, and writing coach [].

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