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.”