FRANCE: Civil Unions rise as divorce and marriage rates fall

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Paris: I just found this article in the New York Times and it reminded me of a post I did last year on this very issue – but in reference to New York. I advocated that New York do away with the “marriage statute” and allow all couples to simply get “civil partnerships” as a way to do away with the discrimination against gay couples and also as an ostensible way to stem the divorce rate. It was gratifying to learn that my ideas were not off the wall and that in certain parts of the world, like France, this is already de rigueur. The New York Times article reads in part:

PARIS — Some are divorced and disenchanted with marriage; others are young couples ideologically opposed to marriage, but eager to lighten their tax burdens. Many are lovers not quite ready for old-fashioned matrimony. Whatever their reasons, and they vary widely, French couples are increasingly shunning traditional marriages and opting instead for civil unions, to the point that there are now two civil unions for every three marriages.
When France created its system of civil unions in 1999, it was heralded as a revolution in gay rights, a relationship almost like marriage, but not quite. No one, though, anticipated how many couples would make use of the new law. Nor was it predicted that by 2009, the overwhelming majority of civil unions would be between straight couples.
It remains unclear whether the idea of a civil union, called a pacte civil de solidarité, or PACS, has responded to a shift in social attitudes or caused one. But it has proved remarkably well suited to France and its particularities about marriage, divorce, religion and taxes — and it can be dissolved with just a registered letter….

Here is the article I wrote last year:

Today was to be a milestone for gay New Yorkers. They hoped that state lawmakers would have finally legalized marriage for same sex couples in the state of New York, making it the sixth “liberal” state in the Union allowing such marriages. (Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and a couple of others have already paved the way for marriages between all residents in the state irrespective of orientation.) However, it was not to be. Lawmakers voted against it by a fairly wide margin. Obviously, many people are devastated. And it is understandable. Because the argument that marriage between same sex couples is a “civil rights” issue is well taken. But so too is the argument that it is morally reprehensible to many voters in the state of New York and around the country to have two men or two women marry each other, have sex with each other, and adopt children as same sex spouses. One can find strong proponents of both viewpoints in every corner and certainly, both points of views have gravitas and are respected.
Got me to thinking of this issue in the context of divorce, though. Does this vote mean that New York will not recognize gay marriages that are solemnized in other states where they are legal and thus will not allow a gay divorce? Probably not. New York like other states would give full faith and credit to any marriage legally solemnized in any other state or country. And once residency has been established, that couple could get a divorce in New York even if they could not legally get married here.
By the way, I wonder if in those states that allow gay marriages such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, what the law is on polygamy. Are those states still defining marriage as only being between two people? And why? Why that arbitrary number? Couldn’t three people just as competently have a marriage as two? That is one of the problems I have with the whole issue of gay marriage. Where does it stop? Who is to say that polygamous marriages are void in that case? And what are the implications for society once we go down that slippery slope?

At the same time, heterosexuals have really done major damage to “marriage” some of us. In many instances, it lacks the “sanctity” that so many hold dear. It’s almost become this draconian joke. Which is why I’ve advocated outlawing “marriage” altogether. Separate church and state. Only allow churches to issue “marriage certificates.” Civil unions/partnerships should then become de rigueur and gender neutral. Anyone of age who wants a civil union can have one. Even if five people want a civil union, they can get it. It’s their civil right to pursue their happiness how they want. Who cares?  But only religious folks can get “married” as that word is understood in the bible – in the church.
That way, nobody’s moral fiber gets ruffled because “marriage” will become this “covenant” relationship with God and his church and would have nothing to do with the state. It will be given only to those who subscribe to certain religious dogma which obviously comes from the Bible which says that homosexuality is verboten. If a homosexual person, therefore, does not like this dogma, he or she can simply go to a different church.
The state on the other hand, remains constitutionally erect by staying out of the religious fray. NOBODY gets married in the state. EVERYBODY can get a civil certificate to cohabit with someone and share the assets, etc. And when there is a breakdown in the relationship, when someone breaches the contract, they get relief pursuant to contract law, and not matrimonial law.
Thus, there would no longer be the need for anything called “Divorce.” It would be more of a “breach.” And this thing, this breach, would be an equal opportunity menace in a manner of speaking. Everybody would be equally protected and equally exposed. Nobody could say that their civil rights are being infringed. And the christians’ moral compass will remain comfortably in tact because only a man and a woman could get “married” pursuant to church law, and there would be no divorce. Only these cute little things called annulments. What’s the problem? Why don’t they just do as I suggest?

This post was originally published on December 3, 2009 as: NEW YORK: State lawmakers vote against gay marriage; does that mean no gay divorce in NY State as well?
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