Tehran, Iran - The redefinition of marriage deserves objective debate around the world. Every democracy must reinterpret laws to match local traditions and current social codes. Referendums may decide this issue finally.
A fundamental change in the universal interpretation of marriage requires a grand leap of imagination. The fundamental rights of parenthood, adoption, custody of children, UN conventions on right of parents (and international prohibitions on child abduction), inheritance, tax, labor, social security and pension rights as well as travel and immigration must all be revised and reinterpreted. The sum of these parts serves as practical reminder that homosexual marriage is far more complicated than the politically charged, election season issue America turns it into.
In the era of a "clash of civilizations" in the global village, rudimentary matters such as diversity of nationalities or cross-border adoptions are seen from hundred-year -old mindsets. Homosexual marriage currently can't easily be implemented across the world. That would only provide fodder for more international tension.
A list of questions grows as the matter is examined. Will the laws of a religiously conservative country -- be it Catholic, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist or other -- recognize a same-sex "marriage" contract made under the laws of, say, the U.S.A. or a North European country when such a contract conflicts with their local laws? Can homosexual couples from a prohibited country "forum shop" and travel to Las Vegas to marry, and then legally enforce their contract in their home country? How will homosexual marriages impact treaties and international conventions? For example, can a gay couple travel with a single "family" passport? Will a "pro-marriage" United States impose sanctions on the religiously conservative countries, for example, on Ireland, a friendly democracy where abortion is still banned? Will it tear up its treaties?
Next, let us assume that a member of a homosexual "family" is recruited to work for an international company in its foreign subsidiary. Will the host nation issue a "spouse" visa or resident permit to the mate? And what happens to health insurance policies or other company benefits such as housing, income tax and tax credits (and recognition of tax paid abroad by a family or the avoidance of double taxation back home)? What about division of property, inheritance, or joint liability for mortgages or other financial obligations in countries where only heterosexual marriages are allowed?
Separation of church and state not withstanding, legal constraints on private action in the United States are derived from and deeply rooted in biblical teachings. Sexual behavior laws (affecting sodomy and "deviant sexual behavior") are one example of codifying such behavior as a crime. These issues are commonly a point brought up in the pleas of American and British divorce proceedings.
Many other modern nations (Switzerland, Austria, Germany and others) require their nationals, and foreigners residing on temporary or permanent residence permits, to formally declare their religious affiliation. This declaration leads to the collection of religious or communal "church" taxes. How could a community denounce a homosexual "marriage" as it is against commonly accepted religious traditions, but yet collect taxes from them? Will the church then provide such selective taxpayers with a revised version of religious texts (quoting ancient stories of Adam & Steve, or Ana & Eve) along next to traditional texts?
It may well be easier to revisit the practical approach of Nordic countries with their conclusions on alternative civil contracts. These contracts are presumably developed after substantial debate and cool-headed analysis. Apparently, their conclusion has determined that it is best to keep the age-old tradition of "marriage" without much political tinkering. A change there might take centuries before achieving universal acceptance.
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