Marriage by Contract

This is Gary Becker, writing at the Becker-Posner blog.

I have argued several times previously that all “marriages” should be basically contractual arrangements between couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual. These couple-specific contracts would specify the duties of each member, including the conditions needed to terminate their arrangement, so that couples rather than laws and judges would determine the conditions under which they stay together or breakup. These contracts would be tailored to the special needs of each couple, and could even be made compulsory in order to take away any information revealed when a person asks his or her mate for a contract…

If such contracted civil unions became the norm, homosexual unions would not be any different than heterosexual unions. If civil unions obtained all the rights of marriage unions, then the issue of gay “marriage” would turn only on language, although it is emotionally charged language on both sides of the debate.

Posner’s view on homosexual marriage at the Becker-Posner blog.

Comments (5)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    I agree with Gary Becker. A wedding inside a church should be a symbolic gesture, to share among family and friends, with the church denomination setting the conditions under which it will perform such marriages. However, the legal terms of the marriage should by civil contract. Whether or not employers, insurers or pension plans recognize the rights of inheritance; and whether Social Security recognizes survivor’s benefits, should be by contractual arrangement as well.

  2. brian says:

    This is the correct view. I have long held this view – the more power you put into the hands of the people that are forming these contacts – and the less power you put into the hands of government/judges – the better.

    One thing though – if this paradigm were in place, you might see fewer marriages/unions.

  3. aurelius says:

    A better solution than I’ve heard from most corners.

  4. Joe Barnett says:

    Assuming that these contractual arrangements could be any number or gender combination of persons, or species. Otherwise, it is sexist or speciest.

  5. Nordicus Major says:

    It’s not a solution at all. “Marriage” is always between two different genders – even of more than one person of each gender.

    Marriage is by definition not just a contract – but something to do with sex and what the consequences are – nine months later. If it were a contract we’d call it a contract – not marriage.

    Homosexuals are entirely free to enter into contracts – to buy a house, a car, a boat, or whatever – with each other as are heterosexuals. The law is indifferent to the sexual relations between those who have a contract that does not itself have a sexual component.

    For this reason, a free society should be utterly indifferent to what adult homosexuals do in privacy, but somewhat concerned with what adult (and almost adult) heterosexuals to in the privacy of the bedroom.

    Redefining “marriage” to include homosexual couples is not only offensive to nature, the role and rule of law, but even grammar. It makes as little sense as it would to redefine “commenting on a blog” as “driving a tractor.”