Book Club – E. J. Graff’s What Is Marriage For?

“Marriage is like the army. Everybody complains, but you’d be surprised at how many re-enlist.”

I actually bought this book with Brit in the Harvard bookstore a few years ago and never got around to reading until lately. I should have read it much earlier. I think Graff does a fantastic job outlining the course of marriage throughout human history.

I want to focus my comments on a few specific areas. First, and this is my biggest pet peeve, the total absurdity of marriage as a contract with no terms. You enter into this agreement with another person. It’s a contract that’s to be mitigated by the state. And yet, the state, unlike with any other contract, does not require you to dictate the terms of the contract. If you enter into an employment contract, you know you’re to be X dollars, you can be fired for X reasons, and you’re expected to complete X tasks. Marriage isn’t, in any way, like this. Do we need to reevaluate the concept of legalized marriage and what the requirements are for one to enter into it?

Secondly, if marriage is no longer about property transfer or children, then what is to stop gays from marrying? If gays can marry, why can’t multiple partners? If we respect multiple partner relationships, how do you deal with the logistics of them (health insurance, tax benefits, etc.)?

Please comment over at Green Apple Martinis.

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