Thursday, August 31, 2006

Speaking of family...

This is a piggy back on my last post. Quite a few of you said that family is how you define it but the common bond is love. Today in my Family Law class we talked about marriage and what types of marriages are allowed/forbidden. I thought I'd throw out the topics and questions we were posed and see what your take is on it.

Think about this though when you think about the topics: (1) If it really is about love and how you feel why shouldn't any of these marriages work if the parties consent and desire such a union? (2) Should the government define who we marry? In 1967 interracial couples could not wed! And this was okay! So a lot of the marriages today were at one time null and void. An abberation. I know the people who read this come from a variety of perspectives so I was very curious what your takes would be on these. Should the government have a say in any of these types of unions?

Family members? Should adopted siblings be allowed to marry? What about a neice/uncle by marriage no longer related through marriage because the uncle divorced the neice's blood aunt? What about cousin marriages which are estimated to constitute 20% of marriages worldwide (Einstein and Dawrin married cousins too). Most states allow it...

Youth? Should there be an age limit to marry? What if you are pregnant? Georgia used to have this exception to the minor marriage rule until a 37 year old teacher was able to marry her 15 year old student because she got pregnant. Needless to say, Georgia no do this no more.

Polygamy? This made the news again as the "most wanted polygamist" was recently arrested. What if all parties want to? Our professor said a polygamist lawyer a few years ago said it was the best thing she ever did because she had help with child rearing, cooking, and emotional support. Should she not be allowed to do what works for her? Why not? Personally, I've seen that when people do it, it usually doesn't work. As an aside, this blog is an interesting insight to a polygamy surivor.

Same sex? When we have people who marry and make a joke of marriage such as cheating on one another, marrying and divorcing in rapid succession, etc. etc. why is the sanctity of marriage destroyed here but not in those other instances? Should this be something up to the people in the situation? Why is marriage forbiddon from a government standpoint? I understand people have views as far as religion goes but the government is secular. So why do they define marriage when it has religious underpinnings?

18 comments:

Tee said...

It's hard to know where to draw the line. I know our respective religions do some of that for us, but thinking as an individual makes the distinction more difficult.

I'll attempt to go through this on my individual thoughts and not by what religion/society/law has taught me to be correct.

Interracial couples - This one is obvious to me! I'm white and married a latino. There is nothing wrong at all with "race mixing". It doesn't hurt the individuals, the children or society. Infact, it can help bring 2 differnt cultures together. This law was obviously put in place for the sake of racism and nothing more.

Family members - If they are not blood related there is no problem. If they are, the resulting children could be physically or mentally disabled. On this one I say it should not be allowed for health reasons. (Although, I find it revolting even if the children were to come out healthy. The world has a large enough population that one should not be seeking a mate within their family.) That's my opinion.

Youth - Absolutly not. Children and teenagers are not yet mature enough to comprehend the weight of their decisions.

Polygamy - I'm against this because it is man brainwashing women into thinking it's a great lifestyle choice for them, when in reality it is just a modern day harem for the male. I think it's disgusting and sad that women would let themselves be talked into it. The reason it should remain illegal is because the man is essentially keeping hostages. They stay willingly only because they have been brainwashed. Keeping this illegal protects women from being taken advantage of. Children who grow up in this environment also will feel it's a normal lifestyle and not even know enough to seek out a normal marriage. Often times they're married off young to another man in the church.

Same sex - I don't see where we have any right to deny two adults a legal relationship with one another when they are both of sound mind and not harming anyone else.

Whew! I'm done! And first to post! :D

mezba said...

Interracial couples: Gov shouldn't meddle into it. However if they make a law that Bengali girls should only marry Bengali guys .... jokes apart, this law was put into place to preserve the 'master race' and is just racism.

Family members: Government should educate but not legislate against cousin marriages. I know this is more common in certain cultures than others.

Youth: The Islamic requirement is puberty, however nowadays with unscrupulous people seeking to dupe people into marriage (as well as the financial implications of marriage) the government has the right to set an age (should be same as legal age of drinking - however no one should be allowed to marry when drunk).

Polygamy: Obviously it's there for a reason. I mean look at Terry Schiavo. Her husband could not divorce her (according to Catholicism), could not remarry while she was alive and married to him (according to US law). So only option left was to kill her. Polygamy is permitted (but not recommended) for a reason. Same as divorce. It is a necessity at times. The government should allow it.

Same sex: Any argument FOR same sex (it's a relationship between consenting adults, who is the gov to interfere, keep your religious beliefs to yourselfs, they are not harming anyone else etc.) can be applied in favour of polygamy. I can say those who think same sex marriage is OK has been brainwashed into thinking such a behaviour is normal. I say if same sex marriage should be legal, so should polygamy. Since I personally am not affected by either, so don't really care.

Geliq said...

I love your blog..

It's worth reading :)

Aisha said...

Tee I pretty much agree with everything you say but I have a question on polygamy. Did you read Mezba's comment on polygamy? He reaises a good point that there are some cases it might make sense like when Terry Schiavo was a vegetable with no hope to be herself again yet her husband could not remarry. What about there? I mean, maybe its not polygamy that is the answer there, but better divorce laws... but still, I dont know that raised a good point. What if the people involved are not brainwashed? What if they want to? Is it wrong then too? Because if all parties sincerely want it then I dont know why it would be wrong. I personally am very very against polygamy. I think its wrong the way its practiced, I've seen the pain it can cause and the hopelessness women who feel they have no way out feel. This is a very emotional topic for me, but at the same time, when I think of a regular American who wants to do this, and is not brainwashed, and just likes this arrangement, why not? I mean Hugh Heffner has 7 girlfriends and its exotic to the media.... but they all live with him.... why not allow 7 wives to at least make it a bit more "secure"? I dont know, Just throwing it out there for discussion :)


Mezba the argument on polygamy is spot on, I never thought of Shiavo's husband's struggle in that way... What do you mean with youth and duping people into marriage? Do you mean like gold digging men tricking young girls to marry for money. That is another good argument for an age limit. I feel like if the two are both 14 and want to marry its one thing but if one is 14 and one is 40... that just feels WRONG.

Geliq, thanks, and welcome to the blog :)

Tee said...

Ok - I knew that this would be an issue when I typed my comment. LOL.

We're talking about human rights essentially. Ok. People have the right to be free and safe.

Same Sex couples have the right to marry each other. No one is manipulating them, controlling them or brainwashing them. They are adults and it's their desire to live that way. We agree on that.

We can't compare this to polygamy. You say that they are also grown adults who have a right to live as they choose but the difference is the women do not CHOOSE it. The government has the responsibility to protect young women from being forced into this lifestyle.

Many of the women are virtual prisoners on their family compounds. They don't choose who they marry. They're married off to much older men by the church. They're brainwashed from a young age to see the lifestyle as normal and not to expect anything better for themselves. They are also told they'll go to hell if they speak out against polygamy so you can't trust any of the "wives" who say they want to live like that.

Polygamy is not about the rights of consenting adults. Polygamy is about male power and control over women... Did you ever wonder why you don't see a woman with many husbands? The men who particpate in polygamy would never allow it. They don't care at all about equal rights - they care about their own selfish wants.

Even if you get away from the human rights aspect, there are other reasons.

Most polygamous families in the United States and Canada are on welfare or food stamps. The male can not support all the "wives" and children. Why should we, the tax payers, have to pay for their "freedom of lifestyle"?

As for the case of Terry Shiavo - although I know almost nothing about law (Aisha! Help! LOL) - wouldn't a rare situation like that easily be fixed by a law stating one has the right to divorce without the consent of the other?

How does divorce law even work? Even if the person you're divorcing is healthy and functioning you shouldn't need them to AGREE to divorce you. I mean, if you don't want to be married anymore, that's your right. What if this is a dangerous person who won't sign the papers? Are you married forever? That makes no sense.

Like I said, I'm not familiar with divorce law, but I don't think the Terry Shiavo case should influence making polygamy legal. There are less drastic measures that could be taken.

Ek Umeed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ek Umeed said...

You've raised some interesting issues on the subject of family, and I will try to address them. In fact, you almost always raise thought-provoking questions with posts. By the way, if you get a chance, please contact me via email, as I have questions to ask you about law school.

I believe that interracial marriages are fine; however, I know that in “desi” cultures, it is somewhat frowned upon, and only because people do not understand it. And most people frown upon what they cannot understand from fear, ignorance, or narrow-mindedness. Did you know that there is no biological basis for race? It is a social construct that most people base on phenotypic traits (i.e. outward appearance).

In Indian culture amidst Muslims, I know that cousin marriages tend to take place. My cousins from my mother's side especially are inclined towards marriages of this nature. In fact, my mother is only one of the few (among her relatives and extended family) who were married off by her family to someone outside of her kin. My father's side tries to avoid cousin marriages like the plague.

Personally, I do not see any problem with cousin marriages. And most people that cite risk for genetic birth defects in offspring in related couples do not realize that there is only a four to six percent (4-6%) risk in non-related couples; the same risk of genetic birth defects amounts roughly to anywhere from two to three percent (2-3%) for non-related couples, which is not much of a difference to me. However, as society, we should recognize that a cultural taboo has come to be attached to the practice over a period of time. And yet, ultimately, I leave the choice up to the individual.

I do believe that the youth should be prevented from making a decision of marriage earlier in life for that choice could prove ruinous for the couple's lives later in life. I think the marriage altar is designed for two consenting, “mature” adults who know that they're making a commitment of a lifetime; and I wonder if the truly young can actually comprehend the monumentality of such a commitment. Marriage is not an institution that should be made a travesty of, and I think people in their early adolescence capable only of using the marital union as a ground for learning about their maturity or lack thereof in this case.

Even though I am a young woman, I am not against polygamy. I think there are reasons and circumstances in which polygamy is justified. However, that does not mean that I support polygamy in the context of today's day and age. Let me explain: I believe the allowance for polygamy in religion was created for the express purpose of seeing that unmarried women and widows received proper protection by men from the lasciviousness of other males. Moreover, in ancient times, women were not able to pursue vocations of their own, which rendered them monetarily cripple; they were almost always dependent on their kindred or husbands for financial security. Furthermore, with lack of exposure to the world from being confined in their houses where they were safe physically from danger or attack in ongoing feuds between families, the women could easily be taken advantage of and used as pawns in the quest and lust for power. Plus, frequent wars ensured that the population of men was considerably smaller compared to the women’s. Considering the enormity and implication of all these factors, I believe polygamy was a necessity then. I am inclined to think less so now. Indeed, if someone were to practice polygamy in contemporary times, I think it would be tantamount to exploiting a permission granted by God for personal gain. Exceptions to the precise practice does not extend to societies in which a patriarchy exists and the culture is backwards enough to warrant polygamy for same benefits to women as ancient times.

I have conflicting views on same-sex marriages. When I once vociferously defended the right of gay couples to civic unions, what my cousin said made me think: "If same-sex marriages are allowed in society, they will corrupt the moral fabric on which the concept of traditional family stands on." Hearing this, I realized for the first time that perhaps the religion had the right of it in prohibiting same-sex marriages; I just don’t know. Personally, I have no problem with same-sex marriages, but I have always wondered something: If people who are gay tend to be so because they are biologically designed that way, then there is something to be said of the test that is faced by them in this world. If, however, it is more of a tendency that can be controlled, I have to ask if it is right to not exert control over it. And yet, the world has far more complex issues to deal with than the problem of same-sex marriages. In answer to your question, I do not think the government has a right to forbid gay marital unions, but I am also not sure if same sex couples have the right to engage in behaviors not in accordance with every world religion either.

Aisha said...

Tee- i havent gotten into divorce yet in my class but you're right i think that there should be something in place to divorce when you want to remarry even if its not practical to get consent. There has to be something in place, there prob is, once if ind out i'll share :)

Ek Umeed, welcome. If you have Q's about law school feel free to email me, I will be happyto help to the extent I can :). Thanks for takin the time out to discuss each issue in detail. I enjoyed reading and getting your perspective. I agree with you on polygamy, now a days especially in the US which has welfare and other types of benefits and assitance for widowed or impoverished single women the need to do polygamy is much less. I've seen too many people doing it with bad results to be an advocate for it in this day and age.

Tee said...

Was just reading news this morning and saw this on CNN.com - CLICK HERE. Read that and let me know if it doesn't make you nauseous.

You see, in theory you can say that polygamy is the right of the individuals involved, but as you see in this real life scenario, people are manipulated, lied to, held against their wishes and raped.

Aisha said...

Oh wow, I saw her on Larry King last night. I agree with you. In theory its a great idea to let everyone choose but in reality its not so cut and dry. A CHILD does not have the capacity to agree to a marriage. I'll haev to email you sometime about my personal run ins with polygamy. NOTE: Not that I was EVER in a polygamous relationship or even close to it... but I've had to deal with it in my life though it was indirect. Even others I know who were the children of such unions, I know the effect it has.

Anonymous said...

Cousins: NO
Uncles: NO
Youth: NO
POLYGAMY: NO
SAME SEX: NO

Sonia said...

I read some interesting research that a polygamous society is actually more favourable towards women. The reason given was that in such a society the most eligible women will seek the most aggressive and socially successful men. Thus natural selection would favour the fittest men (Darwinian law of natural selection). The physically or economically disadvantaged men would be left out in such a situation. Thus sexual democracy guarentees one woman for each man and is thus set up to favour the less advantaged men.

Ofcourse this research can be torn apart by critics. I just thought it was interesting enough to share:-)

Jane said...

Thoughtful questions, Aisha. My answer to all of them is that no one should regulate what consenting ADULTS choose to do with their personal lives as long as it does not impede the rights' of others. So long as everyone is of age and involved of their own free will whose business is it? Nobodys.

Zack said...

The question of marriages with cousin (or other close relatives) is a difficult one. At an individual level, it doesn't seem problematic as the increased probability of genetic diseases is still low. However, make cousin marriage a pattern for generations and then one can see the effects of inbreeding with much higher rates of, for example, microcephaly.

Rabia said...

sometimes i wonder with all this sperm and egg donation that some day a brother will marry a sister (because they didn't know) and the eventually the world will be destroyed. i need some sleep.

mystic-soul said...

Aisha !

tum aese sawal poochti ho jin pe insaanon ka jhagra na khatam huwa na hoga !!!

Aisha said...

Anon... ok..

Sonia, wow that makes my head hurt, lol :)

Jane yeah I think the govt is trying to be paternal and "know whatsw right" for its people. I can't help it though... I am against young children marrying older men.... that's something I'm glad the law steps in with.

Zack that's what Iv'e read. with one or two times its okay. but when you continully intermarry it can lead to major issues.

Rabia it is happening though... they show stuff on tv all the time with such instances. Dont know if it will destory the world though, lol. Get some rest :)

Mystic, :)

rehtwo said...

My two cents:

Family members: There's love, and there's being "in love" and those are two separate things for me. Just because procreation with my adoptive brother doesn't carry with it a higher risk of genetic defect doesn't mean I find it okay. My aunt tried to tell me that I could marry my cousin once (strangely enough, this isn't the same aunt at whom I'm currently irked).

Youth: In Western society, we're raising kids to be kids until they (we?) are at least twenty, for the most part. With that kind of mind-set, I think there should be an age-limit.

Polygamy: Theoretically, I'd like to say that it's okay, but in reality I can't see it working so well - the dangers of "harems", cat-fighting...I shudder.

Same-sex: I have no issue. One lesbian I know pointed out to me once that she doesn't LIKE living with the fact that her lifestyle makes people uncomfortable, that it gets her shunned and that she wouldn't choose her daily struggle if she could help it. (She's also quite religious - it's definitely a struggle for her.) One of my research supervisors is of the opinion that the government should abolish marriage as a government institution, creating "civil unions" for all types of what we currently call marriage, and then leave marriage up to each religion to consecrate as they see fit. That way, priests/rabbis/imams could choose not to bless unions that do not align with their beliefs, while legal issues would be on the same footing for all. I thought that was interesting.

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