Registering “family units”

I wonder what would happen if we abolished marriage and replaced it with “family units.” Any 2 or more persons can enter into a single family unit. Two men, two women, a man and a woman, an adult and child, two adults and one or more children, three generations of people.

It sounds like it could get complicated quickly. What if we added tax benefits? For every person registered with a family unit, they would get a tax deduction or break or… whatever. Whatever the benefits to being married currently are. Including, of course, hospital visitation rights and other things.

If someone wanted to leave a family unit, and join another one, for example, they could “divorce” their current family unit– leaving the stigma of what is currently known as “divorce” behind. A family unit could dissolve because everyone started to head their own family units, or a family unit could dissolve because of irreconcilable differences. Two family units could merge after a wedding, too, rather than separating.

This would resolve the issue that anti-gay marriage people have with the “meaning of marriage” being something about a family unit, anyway, because no one can deny that nowhere near all of our current families has a mom, a dad, and 3 biological children. It would automatically allow for polygamous relationships to be legally recognized.

What are some of the inherent flaws of this sort of proposal? I’m sure a lot of people would be annoyed with the idea of getting rid of the concept of marriage = man + woman, but seeing as how one man and woman can still be considered a legal unit, they aren’t being prevented from anything by being “traditional.” And perhaps currently married folks would be “grandfathered in” to the change and not be required to re-register or obtain a “family unit license (?)” unless they wanted to register additional people with their unit.


Update: Looks like this is already being considered in other forms. The difference is just how many people can be included in a “union” or “unit.”

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8 Responses to Registering “family units”

  1. femspotter says:

    When I got married, I kept thinking about the religious aspect of the word “marriage.” Many conservatives uphold “marriage” as a union between a man and a woman because of things written in the Bible. (Some of those same people also cheat on their spouses despite what the Bible reads. ??) I’m not a Bible groupie. I thought, why don’t we just call our relationship a civil union since we’re not religious? Then, like all of our gay friends, we have the same legal relationship (in NJ).

    Ergo, I would have no problem being called a “family unit.” To me, the name is irrelevant to the state of the bond, and the bond is strong and meaningful to me. I wish everybody could have the same option and benefits. Legally, it is discriminatory to allow one sect of the population to have tax benefits and not another.

  2. Pingback: Forget Marriage, Let’s Have Family Units — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul

  3. KungFuCarrie says:

    I would love something like this, an alternative to ‘marriage’ that still provide my partner & I with the benefits married people get for no other reason than they are conforming to expectations..

    It kind of makes you wonder why married people get things like tax breaks, easier medical coverage, etc. in the first place, but supposedly it’s because they are “more stable” and a “benefit to their community” or something.

    My partner & I are a heterosexual couple who just don’t want to be married. We live in a city, in a multi-family dwelling, taking up less space and resources. We have 1 car between us, and I often bike to work, grocer, etc. We have no children that require additional resources from society (education, healthcare, food). We buy local whenever possible. I’m lucky enough to have a company that allows us both on my health insurance, but we are rarely sick.

    We take a smaller toll on society than many “family units” – it would be nice to get some of their benefits in return without having to indulge in a practice and ritual we don’t believe in.

  4. yoshi says:

    Its a naive concept. Apparently you haven’t being keeping track of the marriage fights around the country. But extreme religious groups fight as vigorous against ‘marriage’ equivalents (e.g. civil unions, ‘family-units) as they do against same-sex marriage equality. See Michigan as an extreme case of this. The recent fight in Washington is also an example.

    Separate but equal institutions simply do not work and ignores the fact marriage has evolved as society has evolved.

    Its sad that some many straight couples treat something so causally that many people are fighting tooth and nail to be able to do. I think you should rethink your stance. Just get married and be done with it.

    • April says:

      Separate but equal institutions simply do not work and ignores the fact marriage has evolved as society has evolved.

      I completely agree. This is not a separate but equal proposition, though. Family Units, in this little idea, would replace marriages and civil unions. The only marriages that would exist would be the ones that happened before the change, and were grandfathered in.

      I know that the religious right would hate it. There’s no denying that. If they can’t fathom gay marriage, I can only imagine that they’d be a little upset at the thought of more than two people of varying genders entering into one single unit instead. The idea stemmed from trying to figure out, in my ignorance of polygamous relationships, how it would work legally (or even beaurocratically) for people to marry more than one person and have multiple unions. When I tried working that out, it just ended up sounding like a better idea than traditional marriage, whether between opposite or same sex. I wish I were a lawmaker, but unfortunately I just have an infrequently-updated blog.

    • April says:

      Its sad that some many straight couples treat something so causally that many people are fighting tooth and nail to be able to do.

      The institution of marriage has a very oppressive history. It was absolutely not perfect long before we were fighting for marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and the people being oppressed in that institution were women. We’ve just barely scratched the surface of obtaining equal right in marriages and divorce between men and women. If Carrie wants to feel animosity toward the idea of traditional marriage, I think she’s perfectly allowed.

  5. Danny says:

    I’m with KungFu Carrie on this. When you get down to it its all about the legal benefits when it comes to discussion on marriage. I know a couple that was together for 10 years before they got married. That’s 10 years of not being able to carry each other on insurance and other things like that.

    What’s so sad about KungFuCarrie not wanting to get married? Its not like Carrie is saying that no one should get married. I have to say that I myself don’t care for the institution of marriage but at the same time I’m against the idea of limiting it by sexual orientation.

  6. Aunt Leslie says:

    I think some of the comments about being married give’s you better benefits is bogus. I have been married for 10 years, and I get no better medical coverage, I used to get a tax return every year before marriage, but now I am having to pay close to 3,000.00 a year in taxes. My husband is retired and has no medical coverage as with the job I have, the cost for us would not even give me a pay check after adding him on my insurance and he doesn’t qualifiy for medicare as he is not “old” enough. I do totally believe that anyone who wants to get married should be able to, regardless of there gender. But just because people have chosen to get married do not for one moment think that we get better things because of it. If you choose not to get married and both have jobs, whats wrong with carrying you own health insurance? Your own checking accounts, etc. You have chosen to live together and not marry for a reason, you can still get legal documents stating what your intentions will be toward your partner. You can still buy a home together, set up a joint checking or savings account, get your will set up to have anything you want to go to you partner. The only thing you cannot have happen is your partner can not make any major medical decisions for you if the need ever arose.

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