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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Replace marriage with new status

Instead of including same-sex unions in the definitions of marriage, let's let marriage be a religious and personal ceremonywith no legal weight.

Instead of legal marriage, we could have two relationships: called legal kinship and full legal kinship.

Legal kinship would confer several rights, including:

Death benefits. Those with legal kinship would have say in the handling of the deceased's remains, funeral ceremony and distribution of shared assets, unless covered under another legal agreement, to the same extent as the family. Full legal kinship would give the survivor primary say in these matters.

Hospital visitation. Both legal kinship and full legal kinship would confer hospital visitation rights.

Taxes. Those with full legal kinship would file jointly and receive certain benefits granted to married couples now.

Adoption. Those with full legal kinship are considered a fully legitimate unit for the purpose of adopting a child. Those with legal kinship would also receive preference in adoption situations. For example, if a parent dies, those with legal kinship to the deceased would receive preference in adopting the child.

Child-rearing. The full legal kin of a parent is considered a parent also. The legal kin is given the same considerations, rights, etc. as any family member.

Immigration. Full legal kinship would confer immigration rights in the same way as traditional marriage.

No limit is probably necessary for legal kinship. For full legal kinship, a limit might be placed at three per person, to avoid complexity. The legal kin of your legal kin are not considered your legal kin, and the full legal kin of your full legal kin are not considered your full legal kin.

Any two people who are not immediate family members could become legal kin or full legal kin. (Immediate family members are automatically legal kin.) Establishing kinship should be inexpensive and available to everyone. There is no need for kinship or full legal kinship to be limited to people who are romantically involved.

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