Well first let me amend this provocative title to what I really mean - marriage should not be recognized by the State. Should people like to promise themselves to each other, whether out of love or for raising children together or for really any conceivable reason, they should - and are - allowed to do so. I could claim I am married to my work, or any other absurd claim, but that doesn't make it so. If a citizen wants to "marry" a foreigner, they should either have to act as their sponsor or "marry" someone who can become a citizen on their own. As for raising children, the State should empower people to take care of their own children to an optimal level, and empower all children regardless of their parent's relationship status to whatever level possible.
Not recognizing marriages has some very important benefits. It means people are not tied to each other through legal means, and can come and go as they please (but are still held responsible for their children). It means no one group of people have legal rights not afforded to any other group of people (heterosexuals and homosexuals, or whatever). And it does not make a sexual union a case of public record, removing the patriarchal convention associated with men owning their wives as property. What purpose does this social convention serve anyway, which cannot be met by two people (or more, if they so wish) honoring their commitments to each other for as long as they so desire?
As someone who has taken care of dying loved ones, and has entered into relationships of mutual investment of trust, effort, time, money, I think there is a role for marriage that should not require a lawyer to suck you dry while laying out the terms of your relationship and interactions. To me, marriage means that I have someone to depend on if I get sick, am tired, overworked, and my partner can depend on me equally. We can work on our futures together without having to write up a contract for each step of the way. That one of us will not be dumped and forgotten if we lose our job or career, or have an illness, or just feel bad - which is what "friends" often seem to do. It means, "Right now, I'll depend on you while I'm in school - and then you can depend on me when you are in school". It's more complex than that as well. It does not necessarily mean, "You own my genitals and I own yours" but it might have implications there.
Single parents have to be super-human to provide for their children and give them their security, food, education, nurturing, care when ill, role modeling, and entry into society. When there are two parents, the burden is spread a bit more evenly - ideally - and I would not exclude 3 parents, although with too many the responsibility is too diffuse. Multigenerational families have more buffering of the burden too. The state is not a caring system, and bureaucracy is the most maddening and inept way to accomplish almost anything - certainly you can't let it raise your kids. It's more than kids, too - shit happens, and you don't know what it's like, unless it's happened to you.
I understand marriage isn't for everyone, at every stage of life. For those who say "marriage" should fall under their pseudobiblical and dishonest definition of "one man - one woman - at a time", they are being bigoted and willfully ignorant, and dishonest. But I also think there is a role for marriage and all people should have the option.
"Woman marries herself". Also, scroll down the story for another caption, "woman marries building".
I am right in line with your thinking and have made the very same propositions for years. Marriage should not be recognized by the Federal or State governments. I am glad you amended your title because I also would not want to see marriage be illegal.
You asked "What purpose does this social convention serve anyway..." My opinion is simply taxation. I read marriage having come historically from a way to tax a family with only one income in order for government to capture all the individually in the group which do not bring in income. But with the rise in Individualism, I say: If the Government wants to tax people, tax him/her individually no matter what "family" or "group" choices by those individuals are made. (i.e. If a couple chooses to have 12 kids, they don't get a tax break for making that choice. They should be taxed the same as other individuals.)
What do you think?
If I am reading your argument correctly, you are for using taxes as a precaution and a punishment against people having families, so that more of the burden is shared by families and less by "singles"? That would be an interesting argument to make.
One thing I am sure about is that I am in complete agreement with you if you are saying that there are right ways of doing individualism and wrong ways of doing it, and we as a country often pick up mostly the bad habits and few of the good.
I think you have captured my sentiments quite well. Of course I don't particularly care for the 'punishment' spin... Lol... only because I come from a position which would find it appropriate to put the onus squarely on those whom Should bear the burden. It's not a punishment if you chose to take on the burden in the first place.
Thank you. I am now fascinated with your characterization of doing individualism right and wrong ways. Sweet.
And there are the right and wrong ways of doing capitalism, socialism, democracy, and surely many others. Thanks for your response!