Monday, June 29, 2015

Mississippi Goshdarn!

So, in Texas (I'm sure this doesn't hold in Mississippi, but for illustrative purposes, let's stick with Texas), my wife and I each have an 1/2 undivided interest in all property acquired during the marriage.  Inherited property is the property of the party inheriting, but any proceeds from that property (like stocks or monetary investments, to keep it simple) are community property.  If one of us dies intestate, the other inherits according to probate laws that regard our marriage as establishing property rights.  If we own a home, the survivor has a life-time possessory interest in the home, despite who gets title under intestacy laws (because 1/2 of the property would go to the children of the marriage).

Note that:  children of the marriage.  Any children I might have who are not children of this marriage (or whom my wife might have, let's not be sexist now) inherit under intestacy laws because of the marriage.  Otherwise intestacy is a fight in probate court for who gets what, whoever you are, which is something the state has no real interest in encouraging.

And what about the children?  So long as they are minors, parents are responsible for the care of the children, and remain so even after divorce.  Death is whole 'nother matter, so let's not go off the deep end, here.  Suffice to say that the law is concerned with children of the marriage; establishing paternity for any other children is, again, a court case.  One other reason for marriage is so the state can hold someone responsible for the kids, in divorce or in death (or, sometimes, just in child protection!) without the need for paternity tests in call cases.

Getting the picture?  Marriage is woven into the laws as tightly and deeply as can be imagined.  Who can be married to whom is one question.  What marriage establishes, under law, is another.

So now, thanks to the Supreme Court, some geniuses in Mississippi want to think the "unthinkable," and just do away with marriage altogether, the better to keep pure Christian hands (well, some; mine are as Christian as anybody's, and you know where I stand on this) away from the unspeakable evil of same-sex marriages.

Just how much social order are these clowns willing to undo in order to defend social order?

Even with no-fault divorce, the court gets engaged in a marriage in order to divide up property (the law abhors the vacuum of not knowing who the owner is, especially in the case of real property or registered property, like cars) and determine who will be responsible for the welfare of the minor children.  These are serious state concerns.  Undo marriage, and suddenly everybody is either common-law married (which means you haven't really removed the state from anything, except that now judges have to recognize same-sex relationships as "marriages" under whatever rules for common-law marriages the state establishes), or nobody is married.

And now who is the father of those children?  The law presumes the husband of the woman giving birth is the father (it's a rebuttable presumption).  But with no marriage?  Now who's the daddy?  And who does all this property belong to?

We accept this state of affairs for the poor because, well, this is America:  we don't care about the poor.  But for the middle class?  Even as it disappears, it has a great deal of political clout in these "family values" issues.

What is it about Mississippi that it always makes Texas look just a little smarter?

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