4 thoughts on “Laurie Shrage and “The End of ‘Marriage'”

  1. The problem is that legal marriage becomes the gold standard of “mature” and “responsible” adulthood and since lots of people don’t succeed at marriage or don’t want to succeed at marriage and are not always resourceful enough to construct other alternatives for dealing with their intimacy needs on a stable basis, those people are left out or marginized or condemned to not see themselves as mature and responsible adults or at least to have to struggle against conventional opinion in order to be able to see themselves as mature and responsible adults.

    In fact, if gay marriage is made legal, that may even make it worse for those “weird” people, of all genders and sexual orientations, who aren’t good at or aren’t interested in playing the marriage game.

    I realize that marriage did not become the gold standard of mature and responsible adulthood only because the state ratifies it, but the fact that the state does ratify it contributes to a great degree to make the institution of marriage hegemonic.

    As for the problem of child marriage, which the author suggests may become more serious if marriage is “privatized”, there are already laws against sex with underaged people, but those laws should be strengthened and enforced with more severity.

    I think it’s important to let people see that there are many ways to fulfill their intimacy needs (with consenting adult others) on a stable basis and that marriage is only one of them and to encourage people to be creative in seeking ways to fulfill those needs.

  2. I did not intend to be anonymous, so I’m responsible for the above comment (number 1)

  3. I guess I’m not convinced by Shrage’s view that deregulating marriage will lead to a rise in the authority/power of conservative religious groups to define the institution of marriage. Won’t people, even those in more conservative traditions following norms that subordinate women, still seek out the legally binding status? And, if so, won’t they still be affected by public policy on civil unions?

    It seems to me that by privatizing marriage, we send the message to the public that the Church is, in fact, not authoritative over the institution of marriage. Why? Because if you want a *real* union (read: the one that is legally binding), you have to go to a public institution to receive it. You won’t be able to get it from the Church. Under the current regime, many people conflate Church authority with public authority because the Church has the power to grant a legal union. This is why people have the flat-out bizarre view that if gay marriage is legal, their Church will somehow be forced to perform gay marriages. They simply conflate Church authority and public authority. If marriage is privatized, the Church loses that power and those things become dislodged in the public imagination.

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