William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

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Let's get government out of the marriage business

In a recent episode of Penn Jillette's podcast, Penn's Sunday School, he talks about how marriage as a governmental construct is unfair. I'd go as far as to say it's a government-subsidized questionably-grounded morality, inasmuch as single people are paying for the freer ride of married people. We can have fair and equal next-of-kin, access, employment, custodial, beneficiary rights and the like without subsidizing marriage.

Here is my pseudo-transcript of an excerpt. It's from episode 118 (episodes / MP3), starting from 84 minutes:

* * *

Co-host: "Oklahoma state lawmakers propose legislation that would throw out marriage in the Sooner state altogether." [story]

Penn: "Well, that's what I have always said. When I was on Glenn Beck... every time I put a thing on Twitter about Glenn Beck, I have to deal with 20 trolls saying 'This is the worst thing ever.' I don't agree with Glenn Beck on stuff, but I get along with him. I try to be nice to him. He's always been nice to me. Whenever I talk to Glenn Beck about the gay marriage issue, and he would say, 'Well, we don't wanna give special rights, or do this or that...' and he's kind of come around on that. But I always say I just don't understand at all why the government is involved in marriage in any way, shape, or form.

"I am, ultimately, if I speak honestly, I am against gay marriage, but I'm also against heterosexual marriage. I don't understand why who people are having sex with - providing it's consensual adults, and you've got to say all that, but you know I mean that - why that's the government's business at all. I mean, how come when we had all these big revolutions saying that sodomy should not be illegal, and gay sex should not be illegal, why did it go the other way? When marriage first hit this country, when they first started putting marriage into the whole thing, most people were against the government being involved, and religious people, too! It seems like, if you're going to do marriage, it's such a personal, such an important thing that that is perfect - absolutely perfect - for religious institutions to handle.

"If you want a marriage that's a Mormon marriage, or you want a marriage that's a Baptist marriage, or you want a marriage that's a marriage in Islam, it seems like that's perfect for them to do that, and then if you want some sort of contract that says 'This is who can visit me when I'm in the hospital, this is who gets my will, I wanna leave my money, I wanna leave my property to somebody - to be able to do all of that, it seems like that can all be done in the civil courts, and there doesn't have to be a definition of marriage. How can 350 million people agree on what marriage should be? [emphasis mine] And every time they do that laundry list of things where they go, 'You know, if we say...' - Scalia, on the Supreme Court - [he] made that statement that's pulled up everywhere that says if you make gay marriage okay, what about people that want threesomes and foursomes that wanna marry, and what about beastiality? - a whole list of things - and I look at that list and go, 'Yeah, what about those? Would that be okay?' You should be able to make any deal you want, and the courts can enforce a legal contract - what that legal contract is should be decided on a case-to-case basis.

"Now, I am married, and the reason I am married - the only reason I am married - is that I could not find one lawyer who would tell me that if we were not married and had all the paperwork done outside of marriage, if something were to happen to my wife, that I would be guaranteed custody of my children. Now my [sisters-in-law] and my in-laws are wonderful, wonderful people, and I trust them. But there is the possibility that if something were to happen to my wife and my in-laws were to go completely crazy, they could fight me for custody of my child.

"Once you're married, you automatically get those parental rights. And that is the reason. There are also financial advantages to being married, which seems really insane - there shouldn't be that at all, that is so unfair to people who are not married - it's just completely, completely wrong. And the whole idea of raising children and how you're gonna do that - marriage exists without raising children, so all those arguments go down the hole - but this Oklahoma thing you sent, it's not clear to me... is the person doing this in jest or ironically or to make some point?"

Co-host: "That's the reason why I sent it to you, it doesn't seem like it's being done ironically. They said that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, and so this congressperson is a Republican, so it is kind of, like I said, a fight back against the courts declaring a gay marriage ban unconstitutional but it also just seems like he's saying we have to put every option on the table."

Penn: "Well, I would think that would be a great option. It's a huge step backwards to allow gay marriage and get more people wrapped up in this government sexuality, government relationship. It just seems insane. When marriage was first going to be the government's control, a lot of really important free thinkers - a lot of really important freedom fighters - fought against that really heavily. It's like everybody who is fighting for gay marriage now would have, 200 years ago, [been] fighting against government marriage to begin with. I don't see why you need to have the government make any sort of decision on that at all. And if you want to have a religious ceremony, and have that kind of stuff done, that seems great, it seems wonderful. It's a really good thing for churches to do, a really good thing for churches to do, but to take government marriage and call the same thing people who go to Vegas and kind of, for a goof, with Elvis, kind of get married, and then call that the really solemn ceremonies that happen in a church - to call those the same thing seems insulting to both parties.

"I am a real fan of the idea of pulling it back, but there's no way to do that. Now, all the stuff is including more, getting more people to be part of this government umbrella of government having to decide what marriage is. And then once government is involved in it, then all that stuff - you know, Teller's not married, I am married, and there's all sorts of tax breaks I get and yet my children - Teller pays for an awful lot of stuff for children, and he doesn't have children. It's just completely unfair. It seems like we could do this much better and much more real and honestly, easily."
Tags: marriage, opinions

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