RE: Family (a definition)

Sweitzer, Dennis (
Wed, 24 Jul 96 08:55:00 EST

Jan wrote>
>> The definition of family should not be changed. Still, I knew
sisters, who lived together since the thirties. Only one is still alive. I
would think it perfectly normal that we find a definition, say depending on
years together, to recognize such committed relationships. If we make it
possible for such "bonded living", without calling it a "family ", we will
take away some of the arguments of those who want gay marriages, while also
recognizing the special bonding which indeed exists, and need not be a
sexual relationship.

This sounds like a 'Domestic Partnership' concept. Essentially, domestic
partners would have some of the default rights of marriage partners (e.g.,
such as in medical decisions for the partner or the partner's children,
legal affairs, etc).

Employers would be free to set their own policies regarding domestic
partnerships. For instance, they may provide free insurance for families,
but provide discounted insurance for partners.

On the positive side, it could simplify legal statuses for partnership
relationships. For instance, if two unwed mothers decided to live together
and share resources, childcare responsibilities (including medical &
education decisions), and friendship, they could become domestic partners
and achieve a standardized legal status. This example is not a case of
sexual orientation--it is a case of survival for two fatherless families.
If one decided to marry, the partnership would be dissolved.

On the negative side, it could be regarded as 'Marriage, Second class' by
society at large--and social attitudes might not distinguish between
marriage & partnership. Then again, we do have the concept of common-law
marriage (when an unmarried man & woman live together long enough, it is
regarded as a common law marriage). The morally upright who might benefit
from such a relationship may avoid it, if society regards it as another form
of marriage.

I suspect that some of the benefits of domestic partnerships could be
achieved by other, more cumbersome means (such as rewriting one's will to
include the partner, or transferable powers of attorney). Maybe a lawyer
could comment on this.

It also raises many questions about implementation. For instance, could 3
people form a domestic partnership? Or a married couple and a single
person? Or even 2 married couples? After awhile it sounds more like a
'domestic corporation'.

I suspect that we could glean many insights from past experiments (say 150
to 5 years ago) in communal living--both christian & non-christian, and
sexual & non-sexual.

That's my 2 cents,.... (before we drop it as outside the bounds of our

Dennis Sweitzer