Copyright (c) 2004 Southern Methodist University
SMU Law Review
ANNUAL SURVEY OF TEXAS LAW: ARTICLE: Family Law: Husband and Wife
57 SMU L. Rev. 991
Joseph W. McKnight*
A. Non-Marital Unions
IN response to discussion of statutory recognition of single-sex civil unions the principal complaint is that the proposal detracts from the sanctity of marriage. The principal and overwhelming detraction from the sanctity of marriage is divorce. Mere recognition of divorce detracts from the sanctity of marriage and puts the matter in the banal hands of the parties, aided by judges and the troops of the bar. Abolishing divorce now, or even discouraging it, seems beyond possibility. Nor does there seem to be any likelihood of tightening its rules. 1
Unisexual unions do not meet the definition of marriage as understood for as long as written records extend. Those who have formed unisexual unions want (1) recognition of their societal status, which seems reasonable enough and is already happening, and (2) the benefits that our society offers to those who are married, an objective in need of careful study as to credibility and consequences. If the latter is the only aim under current discussion, the proposed net may not be cast widely enough. The proposal merely extends the benefits of marriage to stable single-sex unions whose bond is essentially sexual but otherwise resembles marriage in other respects. The bonds of marriage, of course, go far beyond sexuality. The element of dependence and the training of children (ordinarily including their procreation) are also traditional hallmarks of the institution. These characteristics (apart from procreation) can also be present in unisexual civil unions, with the ...
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