Structure Without Restrictions

Much of the argument surrounding the marriage debate is really regarding structure. Structure isn’t a bad thing. We all need a set of parameters to support the lives we build. The problem with structure being imposed on us is that no one set of parameters fits everyone. We are diverse by nature.

If Pagans want structure, if they need structure, they often have design it to fit. Pagans whose families have rejected them, or who do not identify with monogamous heteronormative lifestyles, have to find new ways to frame and support their lives. I have seen some dynamic and fascinating Pagan families, and I am continually impressed by the ingenuity of Pagans.

Yet I find myself wondering about economic security in the real world we live in today. Marriage is about a lot of things, but it’s foolish to ignore that it’s also about economic stability. So if we toss out this pipe dream called Traditional Marriage, we also throw out that form of support, of structure, of economic stability.

So how do we form societal bonds that also grant us stability, structure and security we need in an uncertain world? I don’t have the answer. Gay marriage seems to be largely a copy of hetero marriage. Maybe polyamorists have the answer?

I’m curious about this. What do you think?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

    I’ve long been a proponent of doing away with “marriage” as a civil process and replacing it with a “domestic contract”.  Let any number of individuals who have reached the age that they can enter into such agreements form up whatever domestic contract they want to.  Have clauses relating to property, power of attorney and other decision-making rights (such as medical decisions in the case of incapacitation), inheritance, parental rights and so on.  

    We’d need to sort out how to cover such partnerships with employer-provided medical insurance, sure, but I’m a fan of NHS, anyway, which would negate that as an issue.  ;)

    If two men, two women, one man and one woman, seven androgynes, three of one and five of another or whatever other arrangement you can think of want to form up as a household, so long as all can agree to a contract, let ‘em sign it.  If they want a religious ceremony and can find someone to solemnise it in the manner they want, let ‘em.  De-couple (see what I did there?  Ha!) the civil arrangement from the religious ceremony, without lessening the meaning or impact of either.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      I’ve been referring to these potential entities as “domestic corporations” for years now.  There should be a legal process for registering domestic corporations, and processes for amending and dissolving them.  Custody of minors should be able to reside in a domestic corporation.

      Also, these should not be limited to households.  As an example, if the father and maternal grandfather of a child have accepted responsibility for the child, they should register a “domestic corporation (non-residential) for the care of minors”.

  • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

    I’ve long been a proponent of doing away with “marriage” as a civil process and replacing it with a “domestic contract”.  Let any number of individuals who have reached the age that they can enter into such agreements form up whatever domestic contract they want to.  Have clauses relating to property, power of attorney and other decision-making rights (such as medical decisions in the case of incapacitation), inheritance, parental rights and so on.  

    We’d need to sort out how to cover such partnerships with employer-provided medical insurance, sure, but I’m a fan of NHS, anyway, which would negate that as an issue.  ;)

    If two men, two women, one man and one woman, seven androgynes, three of one and five of another or whatever other arrangement you can think of want to form up as a household, so long as all can agree to a contract, let ‘em sign it.  If they want a religious ceremony and can find someone to solemnise it in the manner they want, let ‘em.  De-couple (see what I did there?  Ha!) the civil arrangement from the religious ceremony, without lessening the meaning or impact of either.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      I’ve been referring to these potential entities as “domestic corporations” for years now.  There should be a legal process for registering domestic corporations, and processes for amending and dissolving them.  Custody of minors should be able to reside in a domestic corporation.

      Also, these should not be limited to households.  As an example, if the father and maternal grandfather of a child have accepted responsibility for the child, they should register a “domestic corporation (non-residential) for the care of minors”.

  • http://twitter.com/atheris415 Atheris

    As economic trends spiral downward, poly relationships may become a necessity, economically speaking. When I was growing up, my dad worked a 40 hours/week job and mom was a housewife. We had a nice lower middle-class lifestyle. Today I work 40 hours/week and my wife works two 30 hours/week jobs. Our lifestyle is upper poverty.

    My daughter’s generation will need more income to maintain a household than two people can provide. Poly-relationships is one possible solution. Another is multi-generational households (grandparents, parents, children & grandchildren all in one household).

    For most people, one man & one woman will not be enough to support a household.

    Also, in a poly-household, if one adult dies or becomes disabled, the whole family will not likely fall into financial destitution.

    • Annie Blackbird

      I agree with this comment. Moving away from the “nuclear family” and toward the “extended family” (or a very, very close-knit community) as a societal norm seems like the way to go from here. I personally don’t give a hoot how those extended families are formed (blood ties, adoption, marriage, incorporation as a cooperative, etc.); the notion that there are many adults who can help to support and care for both each other and the dependents of any of the adults is the important part to me.

  • http://twitter.com/atheris415 Atheris

    As economic trends spiral downward, poly relationships may become a necessity, economically speaking. When I was growing up, my dad worked a 40 hours/week job and mom was a housewife. We had a nice lower middle-class lifestyle. Today I work 40 hours/week and my wife works two 30 hours/week jobs. Our lifestyle is upper poverty.

    My daughter’s generation will need more income to maintain a household than two people can provide. Poly-relationships is one possible solution. Another is multi-generational households (grandparents, parents, children & grandchildren all in one household).

    For most people, one man & one woman will not be enough to support a household.

    Also, in a poly-household, if one adult dies or becomes disabled, the whole family will not likely fall into financial destitution.

    • Annie Blackbird

      I agree with this comment. Moving away from the “nuclear family” and toward the “extended family” (or a very, very close-knit community) as a societal norm seems like the way to go from here. I personally don’t give a hoot how those extended families are formed (blood ties, adoption, marriage, incorporation as a cooperative, etc.); the notion that there are many adults who can help to support and care for both each other and the dependents of any of the adults is the important part to me.

  • Anonymous

    Legal marriage gives couples many privileges that they aren’t even aware of, which is one of the reasons that same-sex couples are working so hard to legalize their unions.   I don’t know how group marriages would work under the law, but I agree that it could easily take more than two people to run a home and raise children if the economy continues its downward spiral.  Even if the economy recovers, which I expect it will, group marriage is an interesting option for those who are prepared for it, but I’m sure it will take many, many years before society is ready to condone anything other than relationships between two people. 

  • ErynneRose

    Legal marriage gives couples many privileges that they aren’t even aware of, which is one of the reasons that same-sex couples are working so hard to legalize their unions.   I don’t know how group marriages would work under the law, but I agree that it could easily take more than two people to run a home and raise children if the economy continues its downward spiral.  Even if the economy recovers, which I expect it will, group marriage is an interesting option for those who are prepared for it, but I’m sure it will take many, many years before society is ready to condone anything other than relationships between two people.