February 1, 2009

Government and Marriage

Justin Katz

I've been getting notices of an RI Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning three marriage-related bills on Tuesday afternoon, but there's currently no information online. The Judiciary Committee isn't on the legislative calendar, and the schedule for the committee lists no meetings.

Acknowledging the short time-frame in which they've been forced to act, the National Organization for Marriage — Rhode Island is asking people to get involved by attending the meeting, writing to the relevant legislators, and (although it's not mentioned on that page) to testify on behalf of the two bills that support traditional marriage.

Both of those bills were introduced by Republican Leo Blais, with one reinforcing the opposite-sex definition of marriage and the other creating "reciprocal beneficiary agreements" that would enable couples not eligible for marriage to gain some explicitly enumerated rights. As long-time readers will know, this is precisely the solution that I support: The government has an interest in supporting committed mutual care, but it also has an interest in affirming the unique relationship between one man and one woman. Inasmuch as it has no interest in, and no right to interfere with, a couple's non-procreative sexual activity (or lack thereof), there is no rational justification for making physical intimacy an implied requirement of an acknowledged relationship of reciprocal care.