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special privileges

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by Dr.Who, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    There is allegedly a list of 1049 laws that grant special privileges to heterosexual married couples but deny those privileges to gay couples who cannot marry.

    I am against special privileges being granted to any married couple unless there is a logical reason for it's existence.

    Nevertheless, I am pretty sure that some of these laws are just plain silly, that some of them don't deny privilege to gays, that some don't deny any privilege to gays without a good logical reason, and that those who are always going on about the 1049 privileges are making more of it than it deserves.

    Let's do some research:
     
  2. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    the first thing that I learned is that the source of the list of 1049 is from the General Accounting Office and they made the "list" because Sen Henry Hyde asked them to.

    After they did their research they said:

    That their research identified any law in which "marriage is a factor, even though some of these may not directly create benefits, rights or privileges."

    So right away that "list" of 1049 includes laws that may not even do what the list is supposed to be a list of. How much less than 1049 will the list be? Again the "list" is just a list of every federal law in which "marriage is a factor". How many of those laws would not be at all related to issues of gay marriage? How much smaller would the list be then if we removed from it laws that had no effect on the issue?

    (I think now is a good time to point out that the GAO did not actually read the law code to make their list. The specifically state: "We believe that such an effort would not generate substantially more useful information than we have provided here." What the GAO did was to do a computer generated search for the word "marr".)

    So does the GAO think that the "list" they made is useful?

    Well they said: "Finally, no conclusions can be drawn, from our identification of a law as one in which marital status is a factor, concerning the effect of the law on married people versus single people. (not gay people but single people) A particular law may create either advantages or disadvantages (why does the gay lobby always say the laws create special privileges when the GAO specifically says that they may not even be special privileges?) for those who are married, or may apply to both married and single people. For example, those who are unmarried fare better than their married counterparts under the so-called marriage penalty provisions of the tax laws, while married couples enjoy estate tax benefits not available to the unmarried. Other laws apply both to married and single people by virtue of terms like "survivors," "relatives," family," and "household."

    So if we subtract from that now reduced list even more items that are actually disadvantages and apply equally to married and single people how many do we have left now?

    The next thing the GAO did was to make a list of the categories of laws. There were 13: "To give readers a sense of the kinds of federal laws in which marital status is a factor, we classified the laws on the list into the following 13 categories"

    The rest of the paper is a discussion of the categories but it does not contain a list anywhere of the 1049 laws. Which is why I continued to put list in quotes above.
    http://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/og97016.pdf

    Now as promised I will go and find an example of a law related to marriage that would be silly to apply to gay people. Since the person who prompted me to start this thread misunderstood and thought that I was saying that there existed silly laws related to marriage I will find one of those too. Since the GAO "list" is not really a list at all I may have some trouble.
     
  3. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    A law that would be silly to apply to gay couples:

    By law if a couple is married and the woman has a baby the husband is presumed to be the father. No paternity test is required to confirm paternity (only to contest it).

    It would be silly to presume that the lesbian partner of a woman who has a baby is the father.
     
  4. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Now a law about marriage that is just silly all on its own:

    n the eyes of the law, a man can be determined the legal father of the
    child even though blood tests conclusively show that the man could not possibly fathered the
    child.”3

    http://www.pafamilylawyers.com/CM/News/Paternity.pdf
     
  5. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Now a law that should be applied to gay couples:

    If a parent has a child and the other parent is unknown then when that parent gets married the parent can have the spouse adopt the child.

    Of course this makes perfect sense to include under adoption laws regardless of whether the people involved are hets or homs.
     
  6. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    So what principles should be used to determine if a law should be applied to whom and when?

    Here (I added the bold and the parts that are in parentheses):

    Justice requires that equals be treated equally and unequals unequally. Discrimination is a distinction or the differential treatment based on such a distinction. Whether discrimination is justified depends on the answer to what Aristotle calls "the difficult question": equals and unequals in what? Unjust discrimination either fails to ask the right question or fails to act on the right answer.

    (for example a law abiding citizen is not equal to a law breaking citizen and the law recognized the inequality by imprisoning the one but not the other)

    In contemporary political discourse the term discrimination itself has come to signify injustice. While this reflects the truth that all human beings have equal dignity simply in virtue of belonging to the human species, it can obscure the fact that human dignity also requires recognition of the truth that, though equal, not everyone is the same (like the guilty prisoner and the innocent free man).

    To deny driving licenses to the blind does not assume that they do not deserve equal respect and consideration as persons, but that they are different from other persons in respects relevant to driving.

    Some countries have introduced, and others are considering, the extension of the legal recognition and social benefits of marriage to persons in homosexual relationships, in order to "put an end to discrimination".

    Are homosexual relationships equal to marital relationships?

    The first and most ambitious argument from discrimination proposes that homosexual relationships are equal to marital relationships in those respects that justify the privileged treatment of marriage.

    Exclusivity, dependence, duration and sexual nature are not the relevant aspects why marriage is privileged by the State. They are only the conditions of those aspects that make marriage unique: the vital function of procreation and the socializing functions of bridging the male-female divide and raising children.

    When the State uniquely privileges marriage it takes the position that it is in the best interest of society for children to be born and raised in a community where they experience the cause of their biological and historical identity as a loving union preserved by each parent placing the needs of others over their own. By promoting marriage to be the exclusive union between one man and one woman, the State not only protects the rights of children but encourages the values of commitment, restraint and diversity that are needed to preserve community at large.

    One objection to this is that not all marriages lead to children. Of course, the State cannot anticipate whether or not couples will have children, but it is clear that only one man and one woman together can be the biological parents of a child and can raise it with the complementarity of motherly and fatherly love. Marital acts are procreative in character, even if non-behavioural conditions do not allow for conception.

    The other objection is that marriages fail, to the detriment of children, spouses and families at large. But if individual marriages are in crisis, the correct inference cannot be that social policy should institutionalize this failure rather than counteract it. Through marital benefits the State promotes rather than rewards ideal conditions for procreation and socialization.

    Are legal recognition and governmental support justifiable?

    When the State uniquely privileges marriage, homosexual relationships are in no way singled out for "unequal treatment". There are any number of relationships that do not qualify for the benefits of marriage. The question then is why homosexual relationships should be treated as uniquely analogous to marriage.

    The aspect that differentiates homosexual unions from other non-marital relationships of dependence and duration is their particular sexual nature, and it is not clear why this should single them out for governmental support. Preferential treatment of this sort would discriminate against all those in dependent relationships of a non-sexual nature: an unmarried woman who cares for her aging mother or two widowed sisters who share a household could not claim privileges and protection from the State.

    In France the perception of this problem has led to a more liberal model of civil unions, open to any two citizens. Even this model discriminates against some, as it provides no justification why groups or singles should be financially and socially disadvantaged.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/MARRDISC.HTM
     
  7. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    In trying to find an actual list of the privileges I did find a general description of said laws:

    joint parenting;
    bullet joint adoption;
    bullet joint foster care, custody, and visitation (including non-biological parents);
    bullet status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent;
    bullet joint insurance policies for home, auto and health;
    bullet dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support;
    bullet immigration and residency for partners from other countries;
    bullet inheritance automatically in the absence of a will;
    bullet joint leases with automatic renewal rights in the event one partner dies or leaves the house or apartment;
    bullet inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship (which avoids the time and expense and taxes in probate);
    bullet benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare;
    bullet spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home;
    bullet veterans' discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; joint filing of tax returns;
    bullet joint filing of customs claims when traveling;
    bullet wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children;
    bullet bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child;
    bullet decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her;
    bullet crime victims' recovery benefits;
    bullet loss of consortium tort benefits;
    bullet domestic violence protection orders;
    bullet judicial protections and evidentiary immunity;

    From that general description it appears that any couple (marital or otherwise) that is raising children together or has a significant likelihood that it will be raising a child together at any moment should receive equal protections of most of those laws.

    So for example a married couple that might get pregnant at some unknown time should be under the jurisdiction of those laws, but also any two people who would be raising children (in a predictable way) should be able to be covered under adoption laws). The only distinction between the two types of couples is that when the existence of new life is unpredictable the laws must be automatic beginning at marriage and when the new life is predictable then the laws should take effect when the couple has a child to raise. Many of the laws should apply to singles who have parented children together also. But I bet a few of the laws are unrelated to children at all and need a closer examination.
     
  8. Mare Tranquillity

    Mare Tranquillity Active Member

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    What about Ted Haggard? Five kids and gay as a gazelle.
     
  9. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    What about a blue unicorn on mars? What are you trying to say?
     
  10. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    You asked me to name a privilege that goes along with being married. Lets go for two: one that is appropriate and one that is not.

    1) When a person gets a job and the company offers health insurance they must offer it to his wife and children as well. This is a restriction of the right of the insurance company to offer whatever kind of policy they want to offer or not. But it is in the best interest of society not to have children and dependent spouses with less options for insurance. This law makes sense. It would not make sense for the law to be applied to gay couples since they did not create any children so the children are not dependents and the spouse has not become a dependent as a result of taking care of the children. However, if that gay couple adopts a child then it just might make sense for the adoption laws to mandate that insurance companies offer a policy to persons with dependents.

    2) Right now when a family fills out the tax forms they can deduct a certain dollar amount for each dependent they have. The choice to have a dependent is completely the choice of the couple having it. The state should not be in the business of promoting child rearing - just ensuring that when children are involved they are protected. This is a special privilege that married hets with children get that no other single person gets whether gay or not. It is also a privilege that is not available to married hets without children.
     
  11. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    By that same logic, it would not make sense to extend coverage to a post menopausal wife, especially if the children were already grown up and gone. It would not make sense to extend coverage to an infertile spouse either.

    Of course, the ultimate answer to that one is to make health care available to everyone, but it appears that our government is not going to be able to do so.

    If you think you can raise a child on the amount you are allowed to deduct for dependent children, you aren't raising children.
     
  12. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    The ability of the gov to enforce the law is a factor. Post menopausal woman and infertile woman have been known to become pregnant. The only way for the gov to know who might and who might not become pregnant would be for it to become so intrusive that the harm of the law would outweigh the good. The gov is right to assume that any woman might become pregnant. It is also right to assume that two men will not be producing children through the sex act.
    Then you agree with me that it makes little sense to offer this privilege to couples.
     
  13. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Remembering that the problem is that a person's employer's health care plan might not offer coverage for dependents, the answer is for an employer to be able to shop the free market and to pick an insurance company that offers coverage for dependents while skipping those that do not. (This is the answer we would expect liberals to like based on what they call themselves because this is the answer that increases liberty for all.)

    (Congress is responsible for making just about everyone get their insurance through their employer, then they had to legislate that companies offer plans for dependents, then they had to make all sorts of other laws to correct each new problem that arises as a result of their meddling. It is an endless game of whack-a-mole which may eventually result in the ultimate mole-whacking when we get forced into UHC.)

    This (buying on the open market) would allow single people the added flexibility to buy from companies that might have a different insurance pool while couples with dependent spouses can buy from those companies with their kind of pool. I have no idea if the one would be cheaper than the other or not, but the market would provide the right kind of coverage for the right person.
     
  14. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Right. Then, let's get t he government out of it and allow the churches to decide who they will and won't allow to marry. That way, if one church refuses, the couple can go to any number of others, and no one has a monopoly on who can and can't marry.


    If government gets out of the marriage business, then it makes sense that they should not be in the business of encouraging or discouraging reproduction.
     
  15. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    That makes sense in a way, but the fact remains that buying individual policies on the open market is prohibitively expensive, and excludes pre existing conditions. Further, people with health issues or of advanced age cannot buy policies at any price.

    Philosophically, I agree that the government should just stand aside and let private enterprise work. In the case of health care, however, that philosophy won't work and the only alternative is for the government to become involved. Not just anyone can buy health insurance that actually pays the bills. If it weren't for Medicare, the senior citizens would not have health care at all unless they had managed to amass quite a fortune in their younger years. What we really should do, IMO, is to expand Medicare to include anyone who wants to buy into it. That way, we'd have a real universal medical care plan.

    Sometimes, pragmatism and reality have to supersede ideology.
     
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