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AltInst: Fwd: Legal Group Marriages?

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    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 31, 1998

    • Lee Daniel Crocker none
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 3, 1998
        > Now, as far as I know, legal marriages may be performed by Justices of the
        > Peace, ship Captains (at sea), or ordained Clergy of established churches.
        > Are there others I am unaware of?

        I am only familiar with California law, but I suspect most other states
        are similar in this regard: a California marriage must be both licensed
        and "solemnized"; the former is done by the state, and licenses will be
        issued only in accordance the Family Code (i.e., the state will not
        issue a license to a group or gay couple). Solemnization may be performed
        by a judge, justice of the peace, clergyman, or by the couple themselves
        if they are a member of a church that dictates self-solemnization. Ship
        captains do /not/ have this privilege and never did; that's just an urban
        legend that makes for better movie endings.

        > So. We are an established Church, with recognized ordained Clergy, and have
        > long been conducting legal marriages. We have created and performed beautiful
        > handfasting ceremonies for gay couples as well as triads. We even conduct
        > parting rituals. Couldn't we set up a structure, similar to that we already
        > have in place for Nests and Subsidiaries, that would legitimate a group
        > marriage performed and sanctioned by our Clergy, as a legal entity under our
        > Group Exemption? If that is how it is legally structured, such an entity could
        > then purchase property, open joint checking and savings accounts, have a group
        > health plan, rent "offices" (housing), obtain insurance, pay corporate
        > (family) taxes, etc. in exactly the same way a nuclear family does, couldn't
        > it?

        You probably could set up contracts to accomplish most of these things.
        The legal problems would come from those few areas where the state grants
        special privilege to "marriages", because the state would still not
        recognize your partnership as such. You could get most of the same
        benefits, though: part of the contract could be powers of attorney for
        joint property and health care, for example. It might help with things
        like medical insurance if one or more pairs in the group actually got
        state-licensed marriages as well.

        In California, things like housework qualify as "compensation" for the
        purpose of validating a personal contract, so it's enforcible. The only
        thing you can't specifically contract for is sex, or you run afoul of
        prostitution laws.

        All of this should be done with explicit, written, signed, and notarized
        contracts. The "conventions" of the Church have no legal standing at all.

        Lee Daniel Crocker <lee@...> <http://www.piclab.com/lcrocker.html>
        "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
        are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
        for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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      • david friedman
        You raise an interesting question. I think it divides into at least three parts: 1. Family ownership and control of property: I suspect this could be done
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 3, 1998
          You raise an interesting question. I think it divides into at least three

          1. Family ownership and control of property:

          I suspect this could be done through a partnership or something similar,
          although I do not know the relevant law well enough to advise on details.

          2. Rights of spouses with regard to each other--for example, if one spouse
          is injured and unconscious, do the others have a right to decide what
          happens. And, related to this, what is the legal situation if one spouse
          wants a divorce--is the marriage an enforceable contract, or terminable at

          Some of this you might get via living wills and the like. Some you can get
          by having conventional marriages embedded in the group marriage.

          3. Rights with regard to children. The general legal situation is that
          courts believe they are entitled to rule on the basis of what they think
          the interest of the children is. If I were in a polygamous marriage (not
          likely--I had a hard enough time finding one woman willing to put up with
          me) with children, I would be very cautious about making the fact public,
          for fear that some judge at some point would conclude that none of us were
          fit parents for our children.

          My own suggestion for dealing with this problem is to take advantage of the
          common institution of serial polygamy to disguise what is actually ordinary
          polygamy. Suppose, for example, you want a family of two men and one woman.
          The woman marries the first man, has a child (not necessarily his--I am
          assuming the whole triad exists in fact, although not in law, at this
          point--but treated as his for public purposes), then gets divorced and
          marries the second man. The first man now has a perfectly legitimate
          explanation of his frequent presence in the household--he is exercising his
          parental rights with regard to his child. The mother has an ordinary legal
          claim with regard to both children, one father with regard to each.

          Hope this helps a little.

          David Friedman

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