"Marriage proposal: Why not privatize?"
Here's a proposal for getting the state out of the (more-or-less religious) problem of defining marriage. It's offered by lawyer Colin P. A. Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle for January 22, 2006. People should be able to write marital contracts as they see fit, he argues, the way business partners can. Churches could set their own marriage criteria but people adhering to other churches or philosophies could do the same for themselves.
A fundamental problem with marriage is that it only comes in one size. As a legal relationship, matrimony is a monopoly product supplied by the government.
At the same time, however, as a personal relationship, the institution has unique, personal importance to those who partake of it. To some it even has deeply felt religious significance.
Thus, there is a mismatch between what is demanded of marriage and what is supplied. It is this imbalance that makes the prospect of same-sex unions a seemingly intractable problem....
As with many things in life, a free-market solution that offers people choice may provide a solution.
Subject to certain statutory constraints, businesspeople have long been free to form whatever sort of partnership they felt appropriate to their needs. Why not make the same possible for marriage, which is a partnership based on one of the oldest types of contractual relationships?
We are already there in some respects no-fault divorce states such as California already treat the dissolution of a marriage largely in the same way as the dissolution of a corporate partnership.
Couples entering into marriage should be able to use a partnership agreement that is tailored to their own circumstances and aspirations, one that reflects the values and expectations that they themselves attach to marriage.
Of course, it will be impractical to expect everyone to be able to draft a workable partnership agreement that will govern a (hopefully) lifelong relationship. Off-the-shelf marital partnership kits would be developed by lawyers and other private enterprises to fill this need. Customized products would be available, too.
Even greater participation could be achieved through the establishment of marital corporations (MCs), which could have hundreds or thousands of couples as shareholders, all sharing common values about marriage....
Read the whole article. If the article disappears from the newspaper's site, you can read it here on this thread.
See also this website about the idea of poly families forming LLC's (Limited Liability Corporations).