February 17th, 2004

running, bomb tech

Barrayarans! (Being a lengthy rant on the place of government, society, and religion in marriage)

Barrayar once had a woman who was legally declared male in order to inherit a Count's seat, if I recall correctly. She had, later, a bizarre suit about her marriage.

Honestly, I think the government should get out of the marriage business entirely. Separate but equal does not work for different people; separate but kind of similar does work for church and state.

Call it "marriage" for church, if you want. My nominal faith will probably call it "handfasting". Call it "Legal Union" if you want it recognized by the government.

It's what we computer people call "overloaded": the same word is used to mean different things depending on context. It's elegant to overload a function when it's very clear by the inputs what the overloaded function is going to do (I believe that a common one is to use the "+" sign to both add and concatenate, so numerical 2 + 2 = 4, but character "two" + "two" = "twotwo") but it's the mark of a fucking kludge when the user has to spend half an hour sorting out with the support people exactly what they're putting in and expecting to get out, and it's non-obvious what's going wrong unless you're leaning over the user's shoulder and watching their keystrokes and know what's going on inside that fucking black box.

"Marriage" is currently used to mean:

  1. the package of legal rights and responsibilities for a legally wedded committed partnership

  2. the package of legal rights and responsibilties for a common-law committed partnership (in states that support that)

  3. the package of social expectations that go along with socially acknowledged committed partnership

  4. the package of religious rights and responsibilites that go with a religously-sanctioned committed partnership
...and that is a whole pantload of meaning on that one poor word.

No one should question the right of any given person or religious organization to deny their personal religious support to same-sex committed partnerships; this is up to the individual or group's intrepretation of their holy texts (if applicable) and their relationship(s) with their deit[y/ies] (if applicable). So long as their approval or lack of same does not break any laws (stoning to death is legally frowned on; public nudity is also often legally frowned on in certain areas), what a religious person or group has to say about any practice in religious context is up to them.

The right of members of society to deny their social support to committed same-sex partnerships may be soundly booed and razzed, but it should be a protected right. My fictional conservative Great-Uncle Morton is not legally obligated to attend my wedding to another woman with a smile and a gift, nor is he obligated to look upon me kindly when writing up the distribution of his material possessions after his departure via death. (My fictional doting Great-Aunt Gillian may socially force him to attend the ceremony and may make compensatory provisions in her own will, but that's another story.)

The legal position of a couple who has established a tradition of sharing housing and other resources, but have not gotten joined via paperwork is an iffy one. Some areas support joining them legally, automatically, after a certain term, or after certain informal criteria have been fulfilled (I am thinking specifically of something I heard, that if you sign into a hotel as married partners, if you weren't before, you become so). Other areas do not. This is the form of marriage I know least about.

Finally, we have the legal committed partnership, which joins together land, money, and other possessions, makes the partners legal next of kin to each other, makes automatic arrangments for custody of children (if any) in case of death, and so on and so forth. Hospital visitation. Inheritance without penalty. Often, insurance coverage. This is the bundle of legal rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex couples have if they wish to pursue it (barring any legal barriers from obtaining same, such as a previously existing exclusive contract of the same sort, or financial barriers such that if the couple were legally joined, their finances would be flushed down the same crapper) and that same-sex couples wish to have easy access to. An opposite-sex couple can sign paperwork, and have the process over with on a drunken impulse while visiting Vegas. There is nothing of the sacred, and much of the legal and binding, about the government-endorsed act of marriage. The only sacred that happens is if the participants wish there to be some, in which case it is covered by the separate religious meaning of the thing.

Corporate entities (insurance companies, banks, and their ilk) tend to observe legal contracts such as legally recognized marriage and domestic partnership, but ignore social and religious bonds. My ex-fiance BJ and I were religiously married, but never legally married. When making full accounting of my liabilities to a spiritual partner, I must include my breaking of/release from a spiritually binding marriage, but the Federal Application For Student Aid could care less, unless there was paperwork signed to start the marriage, and divorce or anulment papers signed to end it.

By all means, if marriage is an important religious sacrament to you, insist that government get their paws out of it. Insist that if your children are to have their union blessed and recognized by you, that they must, in addition to the legal paperwork, have a religious ceremony in an establishment of religion of your choice. Feel free to extend or deny religious marriage to anyone you and your establishment of religion choose to.

It's your choice, and that's one of the fundamental freedoms of this country, that if I'm not of your religion nor affected by it, then I have no say in the internal rules save that they follow the laws of the country (not harming innocents, not formulating weapons of mass destruction, not forging currency or stamps, et cetera). Likewise, religious groups must accept that their laws are not the laws of the country, and that to keep their law in addition to the country's laws, they must instruct their people in their own rules and not ask that others not of their faith follow their rules.

I am allowed to eat bacon cheeseburgers and work after sunset Friday nights and all day Saturday. By the rules of this country, I may, and by the rules of my faith, I may. mamadeb is allowed to eat what she pleases and work any hour that she pleases by the law of this country, but by the law of her faith, she may not eat that nor work then. I do not insist that she break with her faith; she does not insist that I comply with hers. Of courtesy for her, I would probably refrain from eating a bacon cheeseburger in her presence, but that is my social choice. Of courtesy for her, I would probably ask if there were any task that she wishes could be done on the Sabbath; this is also a social choice.

Social law, courtesy/politeness/custom, is the lubricant that fills the gaps between secular and religious law, and laws from differing religions. If I were to choose permanent religious and legal partnership with another person, I would have a legally recognized officer of legal marriage of our choice do up the papers, with us and witnesses of our choice. We would likely have at least one religious ceremony, possibly two, especially if we come from different religious backgrounds. By preference, we might not have particularly many guests at either the legal or the religious ceremonies. We would probably have a relatively good-sized social ceremony, with friends and family invited. I would not ask fictional Great-Uncle Morton to watch someone tie our wrists together and then watch us jump over a broomstick or a fire (though I might invite Great-Aunt Gillian); and I have a few friends who I suspect would be glad to avoid any ceremony that takes place in a building with lots of stained glass and crosses. I would happily ask Great-Uncle Morton to join us for cake and punch and dancing, and I'd probably make sure that there was a version of the goodies he could have, what with his diabetes and all, and I would try to make sure that he was seated well away from the slashgrrls.

One reason I suspect that the government is reluctant to endorse a union between more than two people at a time is because, in case of dissolution, the red tape of whose stuff is whose is going to be a bloody nightmare, and I don't blame them at all for that. It's bad enough with just two.
running, bomb tech


Quite some time ago, a group of very silly anime/yaoi/slash girls were gathered at soundsoft_elvy's place for an evening of anime. I brought my crocheting, because that's what I do while I'm watching anime. I brought a cute little pair of nail scissors to cut the yarn, because that's what's needed when I'm crocheting.

Unfortunately, I was wearing a skirt without pockets. And I wanted my scissors on me. So I stuck them in my sock. Unfortunately, they fell out, and also unfortunately, reichiere found them with her leg.

I later lost those scissors, and had to get a new pair (this kind with saftey-rounded tips) to replace them.

Guess who just found the original, dangerously pointy scissors under her desk when cleaning up? Thaaaat's right... they're back.

And they're very, very pointy.
grammar bitch

Playing Politic-tick-tick-tick-tick BOOM! (general announcement, apropos of unaffiliated drama)

Nine times out of ten, when I drop someone from my friends list, it's not for reasons of personal quarrel. (In actual practice, it's more like 99 times out of 100.) It's usually because I'm not reading them, or don't want to keep reading them, and reasons for that generally include just not saying things that I relate to, or often saying things that I don't relate well to. One face-to-face friend from school was dropped because of his truly abysmal spelling. Grammar bitch aside, he's still a great kid -- I just can't bear to watch him mangle the language without some warning. Or perhaps a journal is, to me, The Big Yawn. Does that make it bad? No. Absolutely not. Does that make it something I want or need to read? No. Not interested, not applicable, I wish them well in their endeavors and hope they wish me the same, not going to waste both our times.

That 99.99th time, however, there may well be something going on. And sometimes people will hear all about it. (Sometimes only my friends, or a subset of same, will get to hear me blow off steam, so that I can not rip heads off in public or near-public forums. Example: the ethics != ethanol incident.) And sometimes people won't. And sometimes people will hear the general situation, but not the juicy details (like who exactly it was who pissed me off so badly that I had to rant in <h1> for a few paragraphs on the generalized sin that they committed). I prefer to take something good from situations of personalized arrrgh by pulling out some of the principles of interpersonal interaction and waving them around, especially those that just got violated.

I learned, offline, my lesson about getting involved with a brigade of dramatics of the sort where everybody hates one person, even those who don't even know them. Tried that, got my feathers scorched, not trying it again.

This doesn't make me some kind of angel/saint/hero. This doesn't make those who aren't as circumspect some kind of demon/villain/stinkyhead (necessarily; extenuating circumstances may apply). This does make things a lot calmer for me than they are for some other people, and I really enjoy that. I really, really enjoy that.

I'd be tempted to say, "But can't we all just get along?" but I know that in the real world, this doesn't work so well. But I'm happy to get along with people who aren't pissing me off, at least to the extent of being polite with them. I'm happy to get along with people who aren't getting along with each other, with each of the quarreling parties in separate corners. (Picking bitchfights with my friends in my company for no discernable reason is an easy way to annoy me. My friends picking bitchfights back over really petty shit is another easy way.) I'm willing to sympathize with someone who's venting, and smooth ruffled feathers and notice if there's some major communication that's just not happening (as witness the dictionary proto-flamewar). garnetdagger says: "If it doesn't affect us, I don't want to get involved."

So... yeah. Feel free to vent if you must, since I'm clergy and all that, but if you want me to join in the chorus of telling so-and-so that he's a bitch, you probably won't get me to join in unless he's just freshly and personally pissed me off too.
running, bomb tech


Got a short nap. Dreamed terrible things -- namely, on about the 5th of the month, the bus pass that I'd gotten at $PHARMACY had gotten bent, too bent to use, and the small problem I'd had at the pharmacy (that my records had gotten mixed in with the records of some boyfriend or other or something, someone who I was to be matched up with but I didn't know) turned into an accusation of bus pass forgery, and that the kindly, grandfatherly old bus driver was The Devil.

Then I was in a section of "the mall" (imagine Beta Colony with windows?) which had computer labs. (Actually, it reminded me of the layout of airport terminals.) And I was trying to sign in, and there was my (new?) boyfriend, and there was some complexity with me having two boyfriends (both appointed, or some such thing) as well as my current girlfriend, and I was trying to log in to the computer (the password was LordPratchett on my user account, which has never been and will never be a password of mine) and my boyfriend was hugging me tightly from behind, and then there was a party (in the RPG sense, not the festive sense) involving good ol' Shawn, and I wanted the party to rescue me from the boyfriend...

I remember snuggling up to the boyfriend, heat-seeking, hug-seeking. I'm OK with doing that if I'm actually in love, but I wasn't, and it sickened me. Hell, I'm fine with doing that when I'm actually close friends and I enjoy their energy and their hugs. And that wasn't the case. I had no liking for them, I was just emptily snuggling. Euchhhh. I was trying to articulate this to Shawn without communicating it to the boyfriend, but I wasn't getting through. (And I wasn't logging in, either.)
running, bomb tech

Scandalizing our nation's children

Want to scandalize a seven-year-old schoolboy who's been raised with a respect for honesty and the knowledge that if he lies, he gets in so much trouble?

Tell him that you are mad at the US president, George W. Bush, because he lied to the whole country. Mention the last two US presidents with big lies -- Clinton, who lied about his girlfriend, and got in big trouble with his wife, and Nixon, who lied bigtime and got kicked out of being president for it.

Instant Scandalized Kid.
running, bomb tech

Harry Potter Fanon/Canon question: Howlers

Are underage witches & wizards allowed to send Howlers? How does a Howler work (the sending part; we know the receiving all too well)? It's got the body of a letter, so presumably paper is involved at some point, and it's got the recorded (interactively recorded?) voice of the sender, it's got a timer function (x amount of time after delivery still unopened, and it explodes), an explosion function (obviously), and it's got variable volume (louder if exploded than opened).