Monday, June 11, 2012

Two Families, Two Countries and Why Equality is Needed

Cornelius, a frequent commenter here, linked to this recent coverage of persecuted couple Patrick Stuebing (or Stubing, depending) and Susan Karolewski. It is a Spanish website and it also covers a Spanish couple, Daniel and Rosa Moya. Thank you, Cornelius!

Today's society accepts - legally, at least - almost any type of relationship between adults, yet alarm bells ring where siblings are concerned. The cases of Patrick Stuebing and Susan Karolewski in Germany, and of Daniel and Rosa Moya in A Coruña, show that it is possible for two close relatives to fall in love and form a family just like anyone else. But the different way both couples were treated - obtaining legal papers in Spain, facing a criminal conviction in Germany - underscores the fact that criteria differ even within European Union countries. In any case, there is no denying that siblings who love each other, have sex and produce children, prove problematic both from social and legal standpoints.
The entire European Union needs to get with the 21st century and let all consenting adults have the relationships they want. What happened in the Stuebing case is terrible.

But in Spain, incest ceased being a crime in 1978, even though marriage continues to be off limits for siblings. Thus, the courts ruled in favor of Daniel and Rosa Moya, who demanded the right to officially register their children.
They should be free to marry.
In both cases, the siblings had been raised in different families before eventually deciding to share their lives and face the social stigma of a taboo that is branded into our collective conscience.

So it is likely both couples were brought together by Genetic Sexual Attraction.
But the question remains: is it necessary to legally persecute couples made up of consenting adults, regardless of how much social rejection they may attract?

No. It is bigotry to do so.
Manuel Pérez-Alonso, a professor of genetics at Valencia University, says that every ban has a "real and biological basis." In this case, it is the risk of consanguinity. "The problem lies in the recessive genes," he explains.
He's invoking Discredited Argument #18.
There are other motives for the social rejection of relationships between close relatives besides the biological ones, and economics is chief among these. The sociologist Enrique Gil Calvo says that "the taboo of incest made sense in earlier family-based societies, whose economic structure depended on the marriage contract, which passed on the family assets through inheritance."
In other words, father need to trade their daughters away like bargaining chips. Aren't we past that? Yes, according to the article...
Naturally, the situation has since changed. "We no longer live in a society of families but in a society of individuals," says Gil Calvo. "And in these new relationships of interpersonal couples, the rule of outbreeding and the ban on incest no longer make any sense. People today are free to pair up with whoever they want, as long as their partners are also freely consenting adults. Incest no longer makes any sense as a crime or an offense - not so sexual intercourse with a minor, which is still defined as a crime as it is based on coercion."

Juan Aranzadi, an anthropologist and professor at the distance university UNED, said...
"there are no known negative personal consequences derived from a mutually desired incestuous relationship between siblings." Besides, "the practice of incest lacks any noticeable effect on the institutions of marriage and family, and it has been their constant shadow throughout history much more frequently than is believed."

I don't think I knew much about Daniel and Rosa Moya Peña. Here's coverage of them...

Daniel and Rosa Moya Peña, a brother and sister who have had "a conjugal relationship" for the last 35 years, are not worried about the fact that Spanish law does not allow them to marry.
I don't know if worry is the right word. It bothers me that some people are denied the freedom to marry.

Incest ceased being a crime in Spain in 1978, and in their long battle to obtain legal recognition "with full rights" for their unusual situation, the couple from Cambre (A Coruña) have managed to be recognized as the parents of their children Cristina, 26, and Iván, 19. Legally they are now a family.
A legal ruling says that Daniel is no longer officially his children's uncle, and Rosa no longer a single mother. They are now in possession of a document known as the libro de familia, or family book, where officials note marriage dates and children born from the relationship. Both kids have changed their ID cards to reflect their real surnames: Moya Moya.
Why couldn't Germany bet at least this enlightened?
"Now, if I die, my children can inherit from me, because they are legally my children, not my nephew and niece. I would have liked for this to happen earlier, because they had a hard time as kids due to people's morbid curiosity," says Daniel, 57. "Now I will keep fighting to try to get Social Security to recognize the woman whom I consider my wife and the love of my life. Many unmarried couples are given the right to a pension when one of the partners dies, on the basis of years spent living together."
Let them have full recognition.

The same Civil Code whose article 47 prohibits direct relatives from marrying (although cousins may), also establishes that progenitors who happen to be siblings may be legally recognized as the parents of their children. But this requires court authorization.

Just institute full marriage equality and equal relationship rights and be done with it.

The Moya family is used to "fighting and facing the music" over a relationship that was taken to the silver screen in 2005 in a movie called Más que hermanos (or, More than siblings). "We fight for our rights, and if we have them, we want to exercise them. The [fuss over] incest is puritanism. Who gets hurt by my relationship with Rosa?" asks Daniel. 

Nobody! People have benefited from the relationship: namely, the children, in addition to the lovers.
They met in Madrid in 1977, without knowing that they were born to the same mother and father. The latter had separated two decades earlier, breaking up a family with seven young children.

The mother raised Daniel and one daughter, never telling them that they had other siblings. Rosa grew up in an orphanage with a twin brother, who is deceased. They were already a couple when they found out about their direct relationship, and they broke up. But five months later they got back together. Still, at first they kept the true nature of their relationship secret.

"We had two relationships: inside our home we were just like a married couple, and outside we pretended to be siblings who were just roommates. Until one day we got sick of it. If people are able to deal with it, fine, and if not, that's fine too," says Daniel.
An adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults. No hoops to jump through, no sitting in the back of the bus... full marriage equality is needed now.

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  1. The story of Daniel and Rosa really fascinated me, 35 years are a very long time for a relationship, especially if it's an incestuous one which is stigmatized by everyone.
    They certainly have a very deeep bond :D

  2. English: It is better for me than between man and man or woman and woman, or Homosexual marriage. Spanish: Es mejor que casarse entre hombres o entre mujeres.


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