Stop discrimination against unmarried couples!

As a member of an unmarried couple with children, I feel my significant other and I are due the same rights given by the state to any married couple. We have already been a committed couple for longer than the average marriage lasts in this country. However, since our moral principles will not allow us to get married, the state discriminates against us as a couple and as a family.

Here’s an example. My partner is a teacher. I am a free-lance writer. Under most circumstances, I could be covered under her insurance. Since we haven’t completed the religious ceremony of marriage—neither in a courthouse nor a church—the state can deny us ordinary health and tax benefits. By law, no amount of legal paperwork declaring our partnership valid will substitute for the religious ceremony.

Yes, there are ways to get around expensive insurance, but I don’t understand why a nuclear family, albeit an alternative version of one, should have to jump through extra hoops.

There is a constitutional right to practice religion without interference by government. There is also a constitutional right not to practice religion without interference by government. By enforcing marriage requirements without allowing a legal, non-religious-based alternative, government commits a discriminatory and intrusive invasion of my life and privacy.

Does government hurt my family with this discrimination? If I only use the example of insurance, the loss of insurance benefits costs my family $3,000 per year. It’s a sin tax.

Yes, there is a still a social stigma attached to “living in sin,” and it only grows when that sinful life lasts longer than the average church- and government-blessed ones. I don’t care. Society is one thing; government is another. If the government didn’t punish my family for our legal behavior, I suspect intolerance of other types of private, personal relationships would be lessened.

I could make a similar argument for homosexual partnerships. It should not be the government’s role to legislate morality, promote any religious institution or to discourage any type of consenting, private and adult relationship.

It is the role of the government to establish justice, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. I wish one of these morality-legislating, marriage-defending, family values-spouting, hypocritical motherfuckers would tell me how penalizing my family’s wallet protects marriage or promotes the general welfare.

Some people will say that not getting married is a choice, and my partner and I make our own hurdles. Wrong. It’s a choice to get married—and choosing to get married for financial or social reasons are the wrong rationales for getting married. I’ll wager a large percentage of marriages fail because the couple got married for the wrong reasons.

My children have parents who take care of them, eat meals with them, don’t abuse drugs, act responsibly, instill moral values, teach the value of money, and, while we do discipline our children, have never sunk to corporal punishment. We instruct our children about respect for the values and property of others. We try to teach them to question what they see on television and read in newspapers, to tolerate others and to be politically and socially aware. We are attempting to raise good, thoughtful citizens.

It is hard enough to raise children and maintain a relationship with another adult without the punitive and regressive interference of a government that isn’t satisfied with legal, intellectual and physical allegiance, but also wants control of what goes on in our hearts and souls. It’s about time that our legislators back away from regulating our relationships and level the playing field for families—whether the adults are married or not.