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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Via Volokh,  one learns that a bill that would have allowed domestic partners the right to provide for the burial of their loved ones, has been vetoed by RI governor Donald Carcieri.

The legislature passed the bill after hearing testimony from a man whose partner of 17 years went unburied for months while state officials rejected his requests to cremate the body as the dead man wished.  State officials were unmoved by the couple’s wills, living wills, powers of attorney, and a marriage certificate from Connecticut.

The pure libertarian position on marriage is that the government should not be in the marriage business, gay or straight; instead any two people should be allowed to draw up whatever contract they wish in order to solidify their relationship. But we are far from such an ideal, and given present reality, it is hard to take seriously those who oppose gay marriage today either from the pure libertarian rationale or from an idea — false, as the above incident shows — that gays in a domestic partnership can have all the same rights if they fill up the right forms. As for those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds, I don’t take them seriously anyways.

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I find this passage from Arianna Huffington’s old article “Bernard Levin remembered” rather poignant for several  reasons. The italics are mine.

We started a relationship which was to last until the end of 1980, when I left London to move to New York. And he was, in many ways, the reason I left London. I was by then 30, still deeply in love with him, but longing to have children. He, on the other hand, never wanted to get married or have children. What was touching is that he saw this not as a badge of independence and freedom but as a character flaw, almost a handicap. As he wrote in 1983 in his book “Enthusiasms”, which he movingly dedicated to me even though we were no longer together: “What fear of revealing, of vulnerability, of being human, grips us so fiercely, and above all why? What is it that, down there in the darkness of the psyche, cries its silent No to the longing for Yes?” It was a No that often coincided with retreating into depression — the “black dog” that he described as “that dark lair where the sick soul’s desire for solitude turns into misanthropy.”

The whole article is in fact extremely touching, as I suspect such things often are. Read it.

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Will Wikinson says:

Yet I hear again and again that, since the state should not be in the business of marriage, one should not, as a libertarian, have an opinion about how this business is to be carried out. Increasingly, I find this an obnoxious and shameful form of moral recusal. One cannot use an ideological image of perfect justice to excuse or ignore an obvious injustice within the actual imperfect system. That these injustices could not arise within one’s vision of the best society does not mean that they have not in fact arisen. That a debate would not occur in an ideal world does not mean that it is not occuring or that nothing morally hangs on its conclusion. To decide to sit out the debate, with an eye on utopia, is not a way to keep one’s hands clean.

I agree.

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I came across this remarkable site today. It is about a lifestyle in which the wife willingly submits to the husband and gives him authority to discipline her by spanking her on the buttocks from time to time. Spankings can range from mild to painful. 

A domestic discipline marriage is one in which one partner in the marriage is given authority over the other and has the means to back the authority, usually by spanking.

A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself. He has the ultimate authority in his household, but it is tempered with the knowledge that he must answer to God for his actions and decisions. He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment, but in real CDD marriages this is taken very seriously and usually happens only rarely. CDD is so much more than just spanking. It is the husband loving the wife enough to guide and teach her, and the wife loving the husband enough to follow his leadership. A Christian marriage embodies true romance and a Christian man a true hero.

Can’t make this stuff up, eh? Here is a collection of stories on the subject by a woman who purportedly follows this lifestyle. Here is a blog by another. They both seem to love it.

There seems to be an element of sexuality to the whole thing, similar to S/M and they do not completely deny it.

Though we recognize by its very nature this subject can be erotic, we will keep this website as clean and wholesome as possible. However, we will not seek to deny the erotic nature of some CDD marriages as we believe it is a natural consequence of following God’s plan. After all, He created eroticism to be enjoyed inside a Christian marriage.

They also emphasize it is all consensual. The wife agrees to the lifestyle before it all begins, and she can withdraw her consent at any time except when they are in the middle of a spanking session.

Well, if it works for them, fine by me. As long as it is between consenting adults, the government has no business peeping into people’s bedrooms. Every couple should have a basic right to live their life in any way they wish. And bare buttocks are sexy.

And oh, here’s the best part. They actually sell crotchless pantaloons!

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(Post updated)

In my earlier post on this theme, I expressed my opposition to using coercive legal means to advance social goals and my moral abhorrence for laws which censor expression, ban consensual behavior or limit freedom of association. I wrote:

Any rational system of morality that makes the basic libertarian distinction between the personal and the political must conclude that laws [which restrict individual liberty] are immoral.

To give another side of the issue, I am also surprised when people think that it is ‘unlibertarian’ to attempt to modify other people’s behavior — for good or bad — through non-coercive means. A controlling husband who does not want his wife to dance with other men, a guy who ‘makes’  his girlfriend eat healthy foods, a friend who tries to emotionally pressurize you to give up smoking or a lover who makes you give up something you love as a precondition of being with you are not in any way violating the non-aggression principle. Such behavior can be sensible or irrational, helpful or counter-productive but as long as they do not involve actual coercion, they are neither libertarian nor unlibertarian.

Let me focus on the cases when the controlling behavior is generally seen as bad or unfair. In those examples, the offending party may not often act in an understanding or considerate manner. However they certainly have the right to be inconsiderate. I most definitely have the right to demand that my partner do things in a certain way. The partner also has the right to refuse. At that point, each of us has the right to suggest a compromise, let the other’s wish prevail or end the relationship. As a general principle, I think such controlling behavior is a terrible idea because even if the other person acts as you wish, she will usually resent it and if you do it often enough, end the relationship with you. However, simply because an idea is terrible does not mean it violates another’s liberty. When private, consensual relationships are involved, everyone has the right to stay in it strictly on their terms.

For instance I would never date a deeply religious person. I would also prefer that my partner’s tastes and convictions are compatible with mine. I might attempt to persuade her to do things in a certain way if they are important to me, even if those things are essentially her personal matter. If the matter is core and non-negotiable, I would even make it clear that we cannot be together if she does not change. These actions may or may not be the best thing for the relationship but they certainly are a natural consequence of my liberty to live my life (which includes my associations and relationships) on the exact terms I wish.

Libertarianism deals with the legal and the political. The meme that it also governs one’s behavior in a purely social or personal setting  is misguided and display a lack of understanding of the underlying philosophical principles. That is not to say that social and personal behavior is not important or that the pros and cons of a particular kind of behavior should not be discussed; merely that such discussions (or any ethics/principles underlying it) are distinct from the principles that underlie individual liberty. Using pressure and emotional leverage to make a friend change his behavior is fundamentally different from having a law that mandates this behavior change. Social pressure is on an entirely different plane from legal coercion. Friendships, marriages and relationships can be ended by either party for any reason, rational or irrational; an oppressive law can never be escaped from.

The personal is not the political. Period.

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France is perhaps the worst place in Western Europe for individual liberty — recall the recent conviction of Brigette Bardot for hate-speech — however, their courts do get things right once in a while. In a marriage annulment case, much in the news lately, the French judge did rule in favour of privacy and freedom. Here’s an excerpt from the Chicago tribune report (emphasis mine).

The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage — and a French judge agreed.

The ruling ending the Muslim couple’s union has stunned France and raised concerns the country’s much-cherished secular values are losing ground to cultural traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

Justice Minister Rachida Dati, whose parents also were born in North Africa, initially shrugged off the ruling — but the public clamor reached such a pitch that she asked the prosecutor’s office this week to lodge an appeal.

What began as a private matter “concerns all the citizens of our country and notably women,” a statement from her ministry said.

The hitch is that both the young woman and the man at the center of the drama are opposed to an appeal, according to their lawyers.

The young woman’s lawyer, Charles-Edouard Mauger, said she was distraught by the dragging out of the humiliating case. In an interview on Europe 1 radio, he quoted her as saying: “I don’t know who’s trying to think in my place. I didn’t ask for anything. … I wasn’t the one who asked for the media attention, for people to talk about it, and for this to last so long.”

The court decision “is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women. We are returning to the past,” said Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara,

“In a democratic and secular country, we cannot consider virginity as an essential quality of marriage,” said an expert on French secularism, Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux.

I am sorry, expert, but the question isn’t what you or I think are the essential qualities for a marriage. The issue is extremely simple — the two parties mutually agreed there should be an annulment on the basis there was a breach of contract, the annulment was granted and they are happy. Stop thinking for other individuals. The government has no business encroaching into private consensual affairs, whether or not those offend your fine sensibilities.

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