Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking Marriage Private

There's an important Op-Ed in today's NY Times by the fabulous Stephanie Coontz called Taking Marriage Private in which she advocates for the ending government's role in marriage. Coontz is a well-known author and commentator on family matters in western society. She has testified before Congress as an advisor on family matters, and her opinion on this specific matter will carry a lot of weight.

In 2004, she received the Council on Contemporary Families first-ever "Visionary Leadership" Award. She serves as a marriage consultant to The Ladies Home Journal.

From her website:

"Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and is Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, which she chaired from 2001-04. She is the author of Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, (Viking Press, 2005), The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (1992 and 2000, Basic Books), The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families(Basic Books, 1997), and The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families.

One of her biggest contributions is the debunking of the nostalgia surrounding the concept of the "nuclear family", i.e. one man and one woman married for life with two kids and a dog and the white picket fence, as the ultimate form of family.

What has this to do with polyamory? I am convinced that it is the only way to even the playing field that at present unfairly grants benefits to couples that other committed partnerships are denied.

For a more detailed treatise on this subject, see the 2006 visionary statement entitled Beyond Same-Sex Marriage - A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships which advocates for:

Ø Legal recognition for a wide range of relationships, households and families – regardless of kinship or conjugal status.

Ø Access for all, regardless of marital or citizenship status, to vital government support programs including but not limited to health care, housing, Social Security and pension plans, disaster recovery assistance, unemployment insurance and welfare assistance.

Ø Separation of church and state in all matters, including regulation and recognition of relationships, households and families.

Ø Freedom from state regulation of our sexual lives and gender choices, identities and expression.

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