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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Why Does the Government Issue Marriage Licenses?

It's a good question. Someone asked it at this blog's sister Tumblr. It turns out government marriage licenses are a relatively recent invention and are only common in certain parts of the world. Click through for the answer.

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2 comments:

  1. An interesting essay, thought-provoking, thank you. For the sake of argument, can I just say that in some countries it is now possible for children to divorce their parents. This seems to happen when the child doesn't like his or her parents and wants to ditch them and leave their home, even though they are 'not old enough' legally to leave.
    This implies that children are already in some ways 'wedded' to their parents, for how can you divorce someone you are not already married to? It seems parents already can divorce their kids simply by putting them up for adoption, or into foster care, (but they cannot just be abandoned, which is a crime in most places. In China kids cannot abandon their parents and it is a crime if they do not take care of them properly. Parents can sue their kids for as much.
    So marriage is a way for the state to have documents about who was in a relationship with whom, and who has legal responsibility for paying the million dollars or so it takes to bring up a child properly these days, ( with all the required extras like expensive private schools, university fees, regular bi-annual overseas holidays, multiple after school tutoring subjects, sports & music training , uniforms,instruments, multiple festive and birthday presents each year; plus additional payments in to the child's trust fund. As so many dads find that it is beyond their ability to pay all this stuff, they simply walk away, but luckily for kids, the government already knows who they are and simply garners their wages, or throws them in jail for failure to pay child support. Now what happens when a man decides to have multiple marriages with his five daughters, and makes five granddaughters for himself? Say hypothetically, he falls of the roof and can not work. Logically the five daughters could all go out to work and he could stay home and mind the grandchildren. But what if all the daughters got pregnant at once? Married or not married, where is the money going to come from? Of course for the very wealthy there is not much of a problem, except maybe possibly a little uncomfortable media attention. The mind boggles. But it might be fun growing up in a big family with hundreds of siblings, aunts and uncles, and it would be good for the high growth economy, if one believes in such things.(Think of all the extra diesel SUVs that could be sold if every dad had 25 grandchildren! But if parents are already married to children, one could argue there is no need for further marriages to them. Double marriage? Each to his own I guess.
    I think I'd rather spend $50,000 on travel than on a second marriage, which might attract the attention of the government. Traveling is another matter and it is quite common and acceptable for parents and children to travel together, often staying in the nicest of hotels:-) With mass surveillance society, governments don't really need more bits of papers saying who is married to whom. Everything is knowable digitally, if they really want to pry.In the past marriage was about a man's private property; wives and children were his chattels to do with as he saw fit. Until the 1990s in Australia and the UK there was no such thing as rape in marriage. A marriage certificate proved a man's right to have sex with his wife any time He wanted it, regardless if whether she wanted it or not. But under Christian rules, it is a sin to withhold sex from a legally married spouse. It is not a crime though so we can't sue for criminal damages, 'pain and suffering' :-).

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  2. This story from Israel sheds more light on the strange importance of marriage. "As a result of immigration from the former Soviet Union, there are now a huge number of children who are potential mamzers, and leaving the old policy in effect will deny them the right to know who their father is and also the right to receive child support." http://www.jewfaq.org/halakhah.htm

    wiki says "A mamzer (Hebrew: ממזר‬) is a person born from certain forbidden relationships, or the descendant of such a person, in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish religious law. A mamzer in modern Jewish culture is someone who is either born out of adultery by a married Jewish woman and a Jewish man who is not her husband, or born out of incest (as defined by the Bible), or someone who has a mamzer as a parent. Mamzer status is not synonymous with illegitimacy, since it does not include children whose mothers were unmarried. ...(Who knew?) ...Interestingly "In a verdict written by Judge Yehuda Granit in September 2004, shortly before his own retirement, he ruled that the current legal situation in Israel - which forbids mamzers from legally marrying - is unconstitutional, and contradicts the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom. https://www.haaretz.com/1.4863751 Perhaps then marriage is society's way of telling individual men, 'if you get a girl pregnant, we would prefer it if you stay and pay for the up-bringing of the the baby rather than us having to pay higher taxes to cover the cost of child support for you. If you have to marry and or pay for child support, then perhaps you will be more careful about going around making babies.

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