Kim Kardashian is an irrelevant, silly person:
But her shotgun divorce (a term I made up for when people get married and divorced in less time than it takes to have an illegitimate baby) has raised some serious questions. How can people claim that gay marriage would damage this cherished institution when straight people are using weddings as sponsorship opportunities? What does marriage mean if it can be entered and left so quickly? And, finally, did anyone watching that spectacle actually think they were witnessing two people make a binding, serious commitment on a channel with an exclamation point in its name?
This public Kardastrophe* draws attention to something I’ve been saying for a while: we should end marriage. Not the part where two people have a wedding and live together and eventually start dressing the same, but the government-regulated part where they get tax incentives and death benefits and better car insurance rates. Society has long held marriage up as a sacred institution, insisting that it must be legally protected and recognized. But, thanks to people like Kim Kardashian, I think we can all agree it’s a little less “sacred institution” and a little more “great television for women who own a lot of cats.”
So I think, in light of the publicity Kim’s
lifelong two month-commitment is getting, we should talk about eliminating marriage as a government-backed rite of passage. Here’s my thinking:
The rules about who can and cannot marry are totally arbitrary.
One of the key reasons I think government should get out of the marriage business is that it’s done a terrible job of deciding which marriages to legally recognize. Leaving each state to its own devices means there are more states where you can marry your cousin than where you can marry a partner of the same sex. And while I actually don’t care if states let cousins marry, it seems a little hypocritical to tell gay people their marriage would hurt society while spending taxpayer money to educate all those incestuous flipper babies.
Kids will be messed up whether the parents get married or not.
Despite all of Focus on the Family’s hard
work prayers to make it so, you actually don’t need to be married to get pregnant and have children. And you don’t need to be unmarried to have children and mess them up. Treating marriage as the core of a strong family ignores both the strong families without married parents and the disastrous families where the parents either are, or were, married. Any marital status can result in dysfunctional children, which is good news for the Ryan Seacrests and Andy Cohens of the world, who will be guaranteed a never-ending supply of living nightmares to put on TV, regardless of what happens with the divorce rate.
Government can’t just use a little religion as guidance.
One blanket statement I can make about every religion is this: they get stuff done. Nothing like talk of eternal damnation to whatever your personal hell might be (mine is a crowded bus where I can hear Katy Perry playing through someone’s headphones on a loop forever) to motivate people to stay in line.
And here lies the real problem I have with marriage as a state institution. Many states point to religion as the reason to refuse to recognize gay marriage. But if we’re going to start down that road, then I don’t see why we’re using these watered down, only semi-judgmental rules to govern it. If religion can dictate who gets married, it should also dictate who gets divorced. And I’ve got two very scary words for all the straight people with marital problems out there: Papal Law. That’s right, my religion says no one can get divorced. It also, by the way, says no birth control. How do you feel about separation of church and state now?
Again, all this is not to say that people shouldn’t get married. They should, if they want to. I myself am happily married. (And by “happily” I mean that we enjoy each others’ company 90% of the time, and in the other 10% have managed to avoid causing each other irreparable harm.) But I realize that grants me rights and benefits that have nothing to do with how good my marriage is for society, simply because I’m straight and the government recognizes my relationship – which is especially unfair, seeing as straight people are the ones cheapening marriage in the first place.
Between reality show weddings, politicians’ affairs and the fact that there’s a website called DivorceDeli.com, it’s time we end government protections and incentives and see marriage for what it really is: a private pact between two people (or more! I honestly don’t care) to try not to kill each other for as long as they both shall live – or until the ratings drop.
*Pitch for the next iteration of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” 20 years from now: “Cleaning Up the Kardastrophe.” Seacrest, call me, I know you’re the one who keeps Googling “tit boner.”