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The Effects of Gay Marriage

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So you are opposed to people being able to establish a formal next-of-kin relationship with another person whereby their SPOUSE has, say, the right to determine what happens with family finances or to minor children or if the person is incapacitated and needs medical attention? Those decisions should ALWAYS default to parents or potentially more distant and even fundamentally estranged people simply because they're biologically related?

Legally, this is the primary and necessary purpose of marriage, and I think it's a very important one. The person I choose to live with me and be the other parent of my children has a much greater right to make decisions that involve me and my property (should I be unable to do so myself) than anyone else.

Granted, you could just establish that the other person has total power of attorney over everything and anything should you become incapacitated--people "marry" their lawyers like this all the time. But the need for some sort of contractual relationship and government protection of that contract would still exist. Since it's a *specific* contract that bestows the same legal rights and obligations, why shouldn't there be a specific word for it? It's no different from, say, "incorporation". Are you saying we should get rid of the word "incorporation"?

..I'm not understanding what you're saying here. I'm not saying the government can't protect contracts.

If you're against the government enforcing contracts,

I'm saying that the government should not be deciding what the contracts should be

Why does a "married couple" pay less in taxes than just any couple? Why does the most successful partner have to pay the least successful partner upon divorce? Why can't these kind of things be left up to the individuals to decide?

How about corporations and partnerships? Presumably you would hold that both need to be abolished, since they have a status that is like marriage.

I did bring up that concern elsewhere

Edited by Black Wolf
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Why do you have a problem with the existence of a pre-defined contract (one in which the discrimination against gays, and some other not objective tendencies are eliminated from), that can be accompanied by various pre-nuptial agreements? People seem to like it, and it's not like you have to enter into such a contract yourself, if you don't want to. (of course, various tax and other laws favoring married people should also be eliminated, but those have nothing to do with the contract of marriage)

Isn't it outside of the role of government to create contracts for people, even if it's one that would be convenient for most people to sign? It seems like law firms could easily do the same thing, having a default marriage contract with equal sharing of funds, etc. And if someone wanted a different type of contract, a law firm could draw one up for them.

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Why does a "married couple" pay less in taxes than just any couple? Why does the most successful partner have to pay the least successful partner upon divorce? Why can't these kind of things be left up to the individuals to decide?

Read my post, I already pointed out that tax laws are not a part of the contract of marriage. No one here is advocating for tax laws in any shape or form, not even the kind that taxes married people less than non-married ones. How is that not obvious?

As for the issue of divorce, there should be a more explicit language in place describing what the terms are, in case of divorce. But to take that and conclude that therefor individuals don't get to decide whether they wish to enter into the contract of marriage or not (personally, I would never enter into such a contract, precisely because I have moral issues with handing myself over to a loosely defined, arbitrary process), is just a shortage in critical thinking. You can, if you want to, choose not to marry.

I'm saying that the government should not be deciding what the contracts should be

Yes, we all agree with that. However, there's a striking difference between the government restricting contracts to only those it pre-defines, and the thing you're opposed to, which is the government creating pre-defined contracts, alongside the ones defined by individuals.

This sounds ridiculous, but you seem to be under the false impression that a marriage contract defined by law somehow restricts people's options. It doesn't, it simply gives them the extra option to use the pre-defined contract. Sure, like all government actions, there needs to be a reason why the government would take this step of giving that extra option to people, and it would be a fair question to ask for an explanation. However, assuming that the explanation doesn't exist, without ever asking, is not an argument, it is just a sign that you're not thinking things through.

Isn't it outside of the role of government to create contracts for people, even if it's one that would be convenient for most people to sign? It seems like law firms could easily do the same thing, having a default marriage contract with equal sharing of funds, etc.

How would lawfirms create a single contract called marriage, that's the default, and known to everyone? Actually, let's look deeper into this, what's your definition of a lawfirm, and what entitles that group of entities to define the contract of marriage, over other groups?

I would say that only a government can define certain types of contracts and legal framework (corporations, partnerships, marriage, making a copyrighted material 'public domain' etc.) that facilitate the understanding and application of contract enforcement laws. People should have the right to not use those facilities, and create their own contracts, but pre-defined language is in no way a violation of individual rights, and it most definitely plays a crucial role in simplifying the legal framework around contract enforcement. (making a legitimate area of government activity easier to understand and benefit from)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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I would say that only a government can define certain types of contracts and legal framework (corporations, pertnerships, marriage, copyright etc.) that facilitate the understanding and application of contract enforcement laws People should have the right to not use those facilities, and create their own contracts, but pre-defined language is in no way a violation of individual rights, and it most definitely plays a crucial role in simplifying the legal framework around contract enforcement. (making a legitimate area of government activity easier to understand and apply)

Not to end the discussion without thinking, but I actually see the logic in this thinking, and after thinking about it, I agree. I wasn't really sure about this issue, and frankly, this clarified it for me. So, thanks!

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Ok... let me try this out, let me know if there are holes in my logic:

(Disclaimer: This applies to the portion of this discussion focusing on how it should be. Not how it is. Whether or not the special benefits afforded to married people should be corrected today by allowing those benefits for all or removing them entirely is irrelevant to the following ideals.)

LEGISLATIVE: A proper government has no purpose whatsoever in recognizing a marriage. What "special" rights are we supposing would require a proper government to bestow on these two people who enter this magical special contract? The only thing the legislators need worry about is protecting INDIVIDUAL rights. They don't even need to know the meaning of the word marriage.

JUDICIAL: The courts are absolutely there to be responsible for enforcing private contracts, but they do not set the terms of those contract. The terms are to be set by the involved parties (not the objective arbiter). Definitions of terms must be agreed upon by the parties, as definitions are often spelled out in contracts.*

Next of kin? Corporations? Partnerships? Marriage? Do we have to abolish those concepts? Of course not. But what is the *need* for the government here?

In a rational world:

  • When I put money in the bank, the contract I sign would include a designee to control my account in case of my death.
  • If a simple designee wasn't sufficient for one's tastes, those who found it important would create a more detailed will that would state all their wishes in case death.

  • If a group of individuals want to start a partnership or corporation, they define that relationship and move forward.

  • If two people want to commit to each other, they would. They have a ceremony, they agree to the contract, they title it whatever they want. It is what they agreed to in writing (and by vows) that is important.

All of these contracts could be filed with the public law courts that would simply record the submission of the contract and have it on file in the event a dispute between the contract participants ever arises. My point is simply that I do not accept the premise that government is *needed* here.

*

Jake_Ellison:
"How would lawfirms create a single contract called marriage, that's the default, and known to everyone?"

Why is that needed? The point of a contract is to concretize intentions of the individuals involved. It speaks for itself.

Jake_Ellison:
I would say that only a government can define certain types of contracts and legal framework (corporations, pertnerships, marriage, copyright etc.) that facilitate the understanding and application of contract enforcement laws People should have the right to not use those facilities, and create their own contracts, but pre-defined language is in no way a violation of individual rights, and it most definitely plays a crucial role in simplifying the legal framework around contract enforcement. (making a legitimate area of government activity easier to understand and apply)

There's nothing wrong with pre-defined language. But as you say, people can create their own contracts and define their interactions in which ever way they agree to. Through prior precedent, there will be some unanimity to what terms are used and what they mean, and in settling disputes where terms are not properly defined (or re-defined) in the contract, the courts will rightfully rely on commonly understood meanings.

I would separate out "copyright law" from corporations, partnerships and marriage. With copyright law there is not an actual contract between consenting parties. The issues there are numerous (as seen on this forum in multiple other posts), but that most definitely is in the realm of individual property rights and what just laws can protect them when there is no explicit agreement between parties. All the others require the individual signatures of the involved parties, so the terms are explicit.

But you're right that "pre-defined language is in no way a violation of individual rights." The government, and the majority of people in the country, define marriage as a union between man and woman only. It isn't about the definition. It is about ignoring the principle of individual rights and bestowing rights and benefits, by force of law, to a... definition.

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There's nothing wrong with pre-defined language. But as you say, people can create their own contracts and define their interactions in which ever way they agree to. Through prior precedent, there will be some unanimity to what terms are used and what they mean, and in settling disputes where terms are not properly defined (or re-defined) in the contract, the courts will rightfully rely on commonly understood meanings.

Unanimity is a specific thing that happens to cause "some unanimity" to be a contradiction in terms. And Courts should not "rely on commonly understood meanings", but on objectively defined ones.

But you're right that "pre-defined language is in no way a violation of individual rights." The government, and the majority of people in the country, define marriage as a union between man and woman only.

Again, the opinion of the majority is irrelevant, marriage should be defined objectively, not according to the wishes of a majority ( majority opinion you took the liberty to rename "some unanimity" for some reason, in the previous paragraph).

It isn't about the definition. It is about ignoring the principle of individual rights and bestowing rights and benefits, by force of law, to a... definition.

It's hard to tell for sure, but I'm guessing this hyperbole is the continuation of the idea that "definitions" are not the source of laws, majority opinions and "some unanimity" are. You're wrong. Concepts used in political science must be objectively defined. No matter how you spin it, the opinion of the majority does not determine the definition of marriage.

Next of kin? Corporations? Partnerships? Marriage? Do we have to abolish those concepts? Of course not. But what is the *need* for the government here?

Read my previous post. (or, the really short version is that a single definition of each of those things is helpful in making contract enforcement easier to understand and perform) The *need* for contract enforcement is there, and it should be done in a way that's easier rather than in a way that is harder. (as long as the easier way doesn't violate individual rights, or the principle of equality in the face of the law)

If two people want to commit to each other, they would. They have a ceremony, they agree to the contract, they title it whatever they want. It is what they agreed to in writing (and by vows) that is important.

I agree, that is definitely a right people have. A pre-defined contract people can agree to obviously doesn't take away from that right, and is definitely useful in helping people better understand what they are agreeing to and Courts in enforcing the contracts.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Think of it like this:

Either a government can be ignorant to the concept of a marriage, and every time a marriage related dispute goes through the courts, the various officials can study the contracts between the two people and relearn the nature of the relationship.

Or, there could just exist a concept 'marriage' which the courts recognise, since they will inevitably deal with many such contracts daily.

That isn't to say that two marital contracts can't differ - but the concept of what legally constitutes a marriage is a matter of law, and I'll leave that to someone more knowledgeable about legalese.

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Isn't it outside of the role of government to create contracts for people, even if it's one that would be convenient for most people to sign?
First, marriage cannot be reduced to "contract". Give it a shot if you think you can achieve the result of a marriage in the form of a valid contract. Second, it is the role of government to enforce contracts, which entails that there must be objective and published principles regarding how an imperfect contract is to be interpreted. ("Imperfect contract" is redundant, of course, but the redundancy is necessary to emphasize the point). When a contract fails to state exactly what is required in some situation, the courts must decide whether one party is bound to do X or is not bound to do X. Uniform principles of interpretation are more than a good thing, I argue that they are necessary in a just society.

Of course you could buy a contract form at the local Staples or hire an attorney to paraphrase such a form; but it is still up to the courts to decide how to interpret that imperfectly-drafted contract. If you think that law firms draft perfect contracts, you would then conclude that contract disputes over what is actually required of the parties should be very rare. What does make such disputes less common is the fact that there do exist legal standards for how to interpret imperfect contracts.

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First, marriage cannot be reduced to "contract". Give it a shot if you think you can achieve the result of a marriage in the form of a valid contract.

It definitely should be possible to "reduce" it to a contract. It is, after all, an arrangement where people take on certain obligations and gain certain permissions, prerrogatives and (in some cases) property rights.

How exactly could it not be possible to make these arrangements contractually explicit - as opposed to something established by the government (which, in essence, is nothing but a contract you can't modify)?

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It definitely should be possible to "reduce" it to a contract. It is, after all, an arrangement where people take on certain obligations and gain certain permissions, prerrogatives and (in some cases) property rights.
Let's take the matter of "next of kin". The concept of "next of kin" is a relationship between an individual and "everybody else". You cannot unilaterally bind everybody else with a contract, and therefore you cannot reduce "who gets my stuff" upon death to a contract. A contract only binds the signatories, and are limited to legally-enforceable and specifically-identifiable mutual obligations. Without a separate legal concept "next of kin", inheritance of property would be impossible.

Another non-contractual concept that arises from marriage is the related notion of "agent", which is important especially in medical emergencies. In order to implement the concept of "agent" in contractual terms, A would need to enter into a contract -- in advance of need -- with every possible hospital, stating that "Hospital H will accept the judgment of spouse B if party A is incapable of giving required consent". Obviously this would be an impossibility.

In the real world, not a hpothetical utopia where governments never violate individual rights, there are numerous additional mitigations of government rights violation that are denied unmarried couples. The violation of rights that results from taxation is mitigated w.r.t. married couples; the violation of rights that results from prohibiting the free movement between nations is mitigated for married couples (i.e. spousal immigration).

I invite anyone to construct a contract that accomplishes what the legal institution of marriage can do. (There's a similar invitation to reconstruct the concept 'partnership' as a contract). Seriously. Try to write an enforceable contract that reconstructs the legal status of marriage (feeling free to omit any improper socialist concepts like 'free health care for spouses').

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Sorry David but I really can't see those examples as problematic.

With regard to "next of kin", if the issue is inheritance the government can assume "next of kin" in the absence of a proper will. But if a will can change the terms of inheritance, a marriage can too. Also, a will means the inheritor has a right to receive the inheritance - not an obligation. In other words, the will does not bind the inheritor. "Who gets my stuff" is not a contract between someone and everybody else - it is an unilateral intent to bestow property. What function does the legal concept "next of kin" have that is 1. necessary within a rights respecting government framework and 2. irreplaceable via contract? I don't see it.

The "agent" issue is also a non-starter. You can name a person your representative on a given issue without the consent of any (or all) third parties - and in most cases the third parties can accept or refuse to deal with him. Since a medical proxy is actually dealing with the life of the person involved, all the government needs to do is to recognize that people are free to implement such an arrangement and make sure hospitals honor them (i.e. a hospital should not be able to refuse to recognize a voluntarily selected medical proxy).

I's sure there are a million ways that the current legal system would not assimilate this - but to say it cannot (and should not) be done is something else.

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Unanimity is a specific thing that happens to cause "some unanimity" to be a contradiction in terms. And Courts should not "rely on commonly understood meanings", but on objectively defined ones.

You missed the point I was making by getting distracted trying to point out a contradiction. "Some unanimity" is not a phrase without merit, especially when speaking of legal interpretations. You may have a majority of rulings with unanimous agreements and interpretations, but perfect agreement without exception is beyond rare. You know by being an Objectivist that there are people who won't even agree that existence exists.

Don't be distracted, that portion of my response was agreeing with you as far as the necessity to TRY to establish objective language in courts. I disagreed that "only the government" can define such language, and that it will ever be universally accepted. If language and definitions were perfectly objective and universally accepted by all, then there wouldn't be people going to court to argue about such things. The concept of a jury would be redundant 12 times over.

Again, the opinion of the majority is irrelevant, marriage should be defined objectively, not according to the wishes of a majority ( majority opinion you took the liberty to rename "some unanimity" for some reason, in the previous paragraph).

I stated that an arguably inexact definition of a word by a majority is not the principle issue. And then you state that it is irrelevant. So we agreed up to a point. But then you wanted to stay on the topic of definitions and how they come about. You say that "marriage should be defined objectively". You propose that power shall be vested in the government as opposed to, anywhere else. If you want the "most objective" definition of marriage, you wouldn't go to the state, maybe you'd go to a linguist.

What I am trying to get across is that the principle of protecting individual rights need not be expanded upon by having state created "couple" rights of any name. Each couple consists of two individuals who have primary rights that suffice in all cases. States that have sanctioned the special rights and privileges to certain couples based on a pairing of opposite genitalia is the issue. What to call that pairing is a red herring.

It's hard to tell for sure, but I'm guessing this hyperbole is the continuation of the idea that "definitions" are not the source of laws, majority opinions and "some unanimity" are. You're wrong. Concepts used in political science must be objectively defined. No matter how you spin it, the opinion of the majority does not determine the definition of marriage.
There's no spin. I'm nowhere near stating that laws are just opinions based on majority or some unanimity (court rulings can be though). Laws are supposed to be those objective rules which must be explicitly stated, clearly defined and consistent. Unfortunately, this has not proven in history to be a perfect science executed flawlessly by men. What do you do when the word "reasonable" is placed into a contract and the two parties end up having a dispute?

I adhere completely to the concept of objective law, and further, if something can't be conveyed as an objective law, then it cannot be part of a properly free country's legislation. A law that cannot be unambiguous is a contradiction. It isn't a law.

Defining truly objective definitions, however, takes us directly into epistemology. It is important to understand the way definitions are formed, but in this case, it can become a singular distraction. This assumes you are trying to convey a concept using only one word and without establishing clarity by use of other words in context and with specific differentia. But let's play with only the word marriage for a moment and see where it gets us: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/definitions.html

Think about trying to solidify a universal meaning of the singular term "marriage" through Objectivist epistemology. It probably would be a topic for a different thread, but I'd be interested in the "level of unanimity" :D you could find even amoung Objectivists. I understand why the word is important in our current society. I believe that importance is needlessly elevated as a result of more fundamental government intervention.

Let's take the matter of "next of kin". The concept of "next of kin" is a relationship between an individual and "everybody else". You cannot unilaterally bind everybody else with a contract, and therefore you cannot reduce "who gets my stuff" upon death to a contract. A contract only binds the signatories, and are limited to legally-enforceable and specifically-identifiable mutual obligations. Without a separate legal concept "next of kin", inheritance of property would be impossible.

You can establish the fact that, in the event of your death, you transfer your "rights" (to your property, et al) to whom. It may be your "next of kin", it may be your neighbor. What is impossible? "Everybody else" has no rights whatsoever and is irrelevant to what happens to any one individuals property.

A proposed Constitutional clarity: The Government may not assume ownership of an individual's private property, in life or death.

So, if the government is ruled out in this case, does the society fall apart?

The actual concept of "next of kin" shouldn't be in much question. Are there challenges to the meaning of that concept?

I invite anyone to construct a contract that accomplishes what the legal institution of marriage can do. (There's a similar invitation to reconstruct the concept 'partnership' as a contract). Seriously. Try to write an enforceable contract that reconstructs the legal status of marriage (feeling free to omit any improper socialist concepts like 'free health care for spouses').

To what end? Is there (ought there be) a burden I am placing onto the government by entering into a marriage or a partnership?

I prefer to invite the opposite. I would wish to live in a society where a Constitution explicitly limits what the Government can do. No valid contract could create rights stating what the signatories "can do to" or "can require of" non-signatories.

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With regard to "next of kin", if the issue is inheritance the government can assume "next of kin" in the absence of a proper will.
BW's contention is that this can all be reduced to contracts, and that the government would play no role in contracts other than enforcing what the contract says. (That assumes that 'what the contract says' is self-evident, which it is not). I'm demonstrating an area where there is something that cannot be reduced to a contract.
But if a will can change the terms of inheritance, a marriage can too.
One can always stipulate that your stuff goes to your spouse, or your child, or whoever, if you have a will. The fact of being married is relevant for people who die intestate: it appropriately grants the spouse the status of "presumptive heir". Whether or not that assumption is correct, the only alternative that I can imagine is that if a person dies intestate, their stuff becomes unowned and open for homesteading or any similar first come, first serve concept.
In other words, the will does not bind the inheritor. "Who gets my stuff" is not a contract between someone and everybody else - it is an unilateral intent to bestow property.
Yes, indeed. A will is another example of a non-contractual legal relationship. The problem is what to do with people who don't make a will. There is where "next of kin" is relevant.
The "agent" issue is also a non-starter. You can name a person your representative on a given issue without the consent of any (or all) third parties - and in most cases the third parties can accept or refuse to deal with him.
But this is another example of a non-contractual relationship. You cannot reduce "being an agent" to a contract. As with people dying intestate, vastly more people end up medically incapacitated without having established a legal medical agent. So there are legal principles that state what will happen when Smith is incapable of making his own medical decisions, and has not established some kind of limited power of attorney or the like.

To sum it up, the contract-only claim is refuted by nature of "agent", "will" and the like; and even if you allow such non-contract concepts, there remains a need to have default mechanisms for making legal decisions with such documents are wanting. That would be the almost universal case with medical decisions, and a substantial portion of wills. The "screw 'em if they didn't plan" alternatives -- the patient dies, the property reverts to the state -- would clearly be unacceptable.

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You can establish the fact that, in the event of your death, you transfer your "rights" (to your property, et al) to whom. It may be your "next of kin", it may be your neighbor. What is impossible? "Everybody else" has no rights whatsoever and is irrelevant to what happens to any one individuals property.
I think I've addressed your points in my reply to mroktor; the essential point is that contrary to the claim of BW, these are not contract concepts, thus marriage (or partnership) cannot be reduced to "contract". BW proposes to dispose of all non-contractual legal relations, which I claim is impossible. If you do retain these various private law concepts such as "will", you still have to address the situation of a person without such a document (no will, no medical power of attorney).
The actual concept of "next of kin" shouldn't be in much question. Are there challenges to the meaning of that concept?
Absafragginlutely. If there is no concept "marriage", then a "spouse" is a meaningless term, and therefore a spouse can never be the next of kin.
To what end? Is there (ought there be) a burden I am placing onto the government by entering into a marriage or a partnership?
The burden that you impose on the government is that you inform them how to understand "your rights", including your right to life and your right to property. It provides a method of uniquely identifying that person who you would trust the most to make decisions about your life, and who you wish to receive your property, in case you have not found a way to express this in a legally acceptable way.
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  • 3 weeks later...
Think of it like this:

Either a government can be ignorant to the concept of a marriage, and every time a marriage related dispute goes through the courts, the various officials can study the contracts between the two people and relearn the nature of the relationship.

Or, there could just exist a concept 'marriage' which the courts recognise, since they will inevitably deal with many such contracts daily.

That isn't to say that two marital contracts can't differ - but the concept of what legally constitutes a marriage is a matter of law, and I'll leave that to someone more knowledgeable about legalese.

Ah, this makes a bit more sense to me. Not re-inventing the wheel every time the courts must deal with marriage.. yeah, I suppose that makes sense.

Of course, the religious argument will always confuse marriage as recognized by the courts, as marriage recognized by their faulty religious convictions. They will keep insisting that marriage is necessary for reproduction (it never is, one can marry without reproducing, and one can reproduce without marrying), and they will keep confusing "extending contractual freedom" with "telling us that we can't legally refuse gay marriage in our churches".

You can feel free to define marriage as however you want. You can believe it is only between a man and a woman for whatever abjectly stupid reason you see fit. The courts, however, must have an objective definition of marriage, and since marriage is a contract, the participants of the contract in a truly capitalist society should be whoever consents to the contract, regardless of numeration or gender.

Actually, this is a good argument against the slippery slope, next time someone wants to say "Will we be allowed to marry our dogs, or children?". The answer is, no. Contracts between animals are not valid. Contracts between minors are usually not valid.

Edited by Black Wolf
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  • 6 months later...
I'm just curious... Where did you get this info?
I think "harshly punished" was used to mean "made to pay significantly more death-taxes than a married person". When a person dies, assets that are inherited by their spouse are typically exempt from death-taxes. Not so for assets inherited by others (e.g. to children or to a gay spouse to whom a marriage is not legally recognized). However, as far as I know, there are no Federal death-taxes on the first $3 million of estate, even in such cases. Edited by softwareNerd
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Gay marriage is one thing, but what about adoption? Legalising gay marriage will add to the push to allow gay adoption in those areas it is not already a possibility. Do gay people have an individual right to adopt a child? Conceiving via IVF with donated sperm would be a different issue. What about the rights of the child in this situation?

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I think "harshly punished" was used to mean "made to pay significantly more death-taxes than a married person". When a person dies, assets that are inherited by their spouse are typically exempt from death-taxes. Not so for assets inherited by others (e.g. to children or to a gay spouse to whom a marriage is not legally recognized). However, as far as I know, there are no Federal death-taxes on the first $3 million of estate, even in such cases.

Yes.

Many Americans don't see that as a big deal because if you have over $3 million you must surely be rich.

But a couple that's been together more than 20 years? If you own any kind of property or business you are likely to have over $3mil in assets.

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Gay marriage is one thing, but what about adoption? Legalising gay marriage will add to the push to allow gay adoption in those areas it is not already a possibility. Do gay people have an individual right to adopt a child? Conceiving via IVF with donated sperm would be a different issue. What about the rights of the child in this situation?

This is irrelevant. The childs rights are no more or less an issue when heterosexual couples adopt.

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This is irrelevant. The childs rights are no more or less an issue when heterosexual couples adopt.

It is a difficult issue, but what are the child's rights? Are they simply restricted to clothing, food etc? Doesn't the child have a right to an environment that will enable them to develop properly and function well in society - i.e. by observing gender roles in the home? Whilst not all parents will be able to provide that to their child due to death/divorce/fecklessness, gay couples are by definition incapable of providing such examples. Until the child is eighteen and able to make their own decisions, their guardians have to determine what is best for that child. Whilst adoption may be desirable for a gay couple, I don't think that it is in the child's best interest. The child is likely to suffer in a variety of ways - bullying, lack of gender role models in the home and confusing messages about sexuality.

I guess my main opposition stems from an almost visceral reaction to the fact that the Left is promoting this not because it is best for the child, but for p.c. reasons and actively using adoption policy to promote social engineering. e.g. you have to pass through many hoops (at least in the UK), in order to be able to adopt a child - including questions about how the parents will ensure that the child is brought up in a multi-cultural manner.

I also worry that many Objectivists seem to have accepted p.c. myths in this area - such as the idea that if kids are not adopted by gays, they will spend their whole lives in foster homes and state-orphanges. There is no evidence to support this at all, there is a shortage of babies available for adoption - people always want to adopt babies. Those who do get stuck in orphanges etc are older children, more difficult to home, those from broken homes, many of whom have suffered trauma in their short-lives and have behavioural problems - these children need a stable, hetrosexual home providing an example of gender roles and a 'normal' family life.

There has been relatively little research done on gay parenting, that which exists tends to have a pre-determined bias for or against gay parenting. Much of the positive research has self-selected groups - biasing the sample in favour of more stable, middle-class, gay families.

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It is a difficult issue, but what are the child's rights? Are they simply restricted to clothing, food etc? Doesn't the child have a right to an environment that will enable them to develop properly and function well in society - i.e. by observing gender roles in the home? Whilst not all parents will be able to provide that to their child due to death/divorce/fecklessness, gay couples are by definition incapable of providing such examples. Until the child is eighteen and able to make their own decisions, their guardians have to determine what is best for that child. Whilst adoption may be desirable for a gay couple, I don't think that it is in the child's best interest. The child is likely to suffer in a variety of ways - bullying, lack of gender role models in the home and confusing messages about sexuality.

If you're asking if the child or adoption center should be the one to decide if he wants to get adopted, the answer is yes.

If you're asking if gays shouldn't be allowed to adopt just because they'd be bullied, or because they've having "conufsing messages about sexuality", the answer is no. The possibility of bullying is not sufficient grounds to make something illegal, otherwise you might as well make glasses, braces, and being intelligent illegal.

"Gender roles"? What roles does a gender imply?

Kids are confused by many things, so I don't know what you mean.

I guess my main opposition stems from an almost visceral reaction to the fact that the Left is promoting this not because it is best for the child, but for p.c. reasons and actively using adoption policy to promote social engineering.

It's the people who want to ban non-married couples from adopting that are the ones who are social engineering. They arbitrarily decided that a child is doomed to be confused if he does not have a stereotypical "Leave it to beaver" family.

I also worry that many Objectivists seem to have accepted p.c. myths in this area - such as the idea that if kids are not adopted by gays, they will spend their whole lives in foster homes and state-orphanges. There is no evidence to support this at all, there is a shortage of babies available for adoption - people always want to adopt babies.

Well, it's hard to do a study on something if you don't let it happen, and just dismiss all

Those who do get stuck in orphanges etc are older children, more difficult to home, those from broken homes, many of whom have suffered trauma in their short-lives and have behavioural problems - these children need a stable, hetrosexual home providing an example of gender roles and a 'normal' family life.

49% of gay couples want to adopt, and claim they are willing to take on "less desirable" children.

http://www.mombian.com/2007/03/27/two-million-glb-people-want-to-adopt-study-says/

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Doesn't the child have a right to an environment that will enable them to develop properly and function well in society - i.e. by observing gender roles in the home?

I think you need to check this premise. Are kids happier or healthier following traditional gender roles? Some are not. Is it really true that kids who are raised by two gay parents, or one straight parent for that matter, are disadvantaged in some way? There may be research to suggest that, but one of the jobs of an adoption agency is to vet potential parents. They will eventually find parents they think are good despite one or two misgivings.

To be honest, I'm more concerned about the damage traditional gender roles do to the kids that don't fit them than I am of gay parents ruining their child's gender identity. Gay people seem to be more sensitive to that kind of stuff than heterosexual people.

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I think you need to check this premise. Are kids happier or healthier following traditional gender roles? Some are not.

...

To be honest, I'm more concerned about the damage traditional gender roles do to the kids that don't fit them than I am of gay parents ruining their child's gender identity. Gay people seem to be more sensitive to that kind of stuff than heterosexual people.

I am sure that if you have a child with a mixed-gender condition, then a gay parent would be more aware of the issues and understanding (on average) than a straight parent. However, the fact is that most children are hetrosexual and fulfil traditional gender roles. I am not talking about enforcing gender stereotypes that boys must be macho and fight, girls must play with dolls - but it is a fact that most children will fall into those categories because men and women are biologically different and evolutionary wired to seek out different roles. Furthermore, the importance of having a strong male role model is not in dispute, their experience of their father has a huge impact on how children develop and influences their relationships in later life. I don't remember where I read it now (was a long time ago) but girls raised in lesbian environment were more promiscuous, had sex earlier and more partners than those raised in a stable hetrosexual home (interestingly, for boys there was a slight, though statistically insignificant, reduction in promiscuity and sexual partners).

Is it really true that kids who are raised by two gay parents, or one straight parent for that matter, are disadvantaged in some way?

As I said, there is little objective evidence regarding gay parents, so one can not conclude either way but it is certainly true that children are significantly disadvantaged by single-parenthood. Obviously this does not apply to all, I am sure you can think of amazing single-parents that you know, but generally, the outcomes for children in single-parent households are a lot, lot worse. However, this is a side-issue, not relevant to the issue of gay adoption - the reasons children do poorly in single-parent homes is due to the difficulties of raising a child alone (time, money etc).

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If you're asking if the child or adoption center should be the one to decide if he wants to get adopted, the answer is yes.

You cannot ask all children, particularly youngsters, they are not best placed to know what is in their own best interests - if you ask children whether they want to live with the permissive parents who will let them stay up until 1am playing video games every night, or the couple with a strict bed-time, they are unlikely to chose wisely. Responsible, rational adults are the ultimate guard of a child's best interests.

It's the people who want to ban non-married couples from adopting that are the ones who are social engineering. They arbitrarily decided that a child is doomed to be confused if he does not have a stereotypical "Leave it to beaver" family.

I am not sure they are attempting 'social engineering', in the sense that the term refers to an attempt to influence social behaviour in a manner that conflicts with nature / conventional social mores, unless it is 'social engineering' for the government to prohibit the use of force? After all, it is an attempt to influence behaviour. But even if we accept that it is, I dispute the contention that it is arbitrary. The mother-father relationship is a fact of nature, it is not an arbitrary social convention that hetrosexuals have invented to discrimination against gay people. Further, concern at the lack of a male role model in the home as is often cited, is a legitimate concern for the child, not an arbitrary decision.

49% of gay couples want to adopt, and claim they are willing to take on "less desirable" children.

However, these children with disrupted family lives are the ones most in need of a stable home with good role models. A child who was, for instance, abused by their father may never be able to develop a positive relationship with men if they do not have a positive male role model during their subsequent development. Friends and uncles are not sufficient and cannot replace the importance of a father-figure in the home. Even the most stable, loving, nurturing lesbian couple cannot give children the father-figure that they need.

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