ALI proposes abolition of marriage

The American Law Institute has urged states to update their family law by abolishing the family. Basically, what they propose is to abolish marriage by treating all “living together” arrangements the same, and to redistribute wealth by treating the breakup of such arrangements as an occasion for equalizing the wealth of the parties. The first change would be a blatant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” [Article 16, par. 3.] I wonder if Human Rights Watch will come down on them?

29 thoughts on “ALI proposes abolition of marriage”

  1. Human Rights Watch won’t
    Human Rights Watch won’t complain. That language about “The family is the fundamental unit of society… ” should be seen as simply a stage in the progressive unfolding of our understanding of true human needs, easily changeable to “The self is the fundamental unit of society …”

    Another way they can handle this is to say that the family is any grouping, for however long it lasts. While it lasts, it is sacred and must be protected. But the instant that one of the members decides to dissolve it, that decision is also sacred and must be protected. There is thus this lovely, flowing continuity between “family” and “individual,” all the stages of which, no matter how much they contradict each other, are equally expressions of human desires and needs and equally deserving of state protection.

  2. How long would someone need
    How long would someone need to “live together” with another before being able to make this claim on the other’s property when they separate? I don’t see how, without being arbitrary, these people can draw the line such that a one-night stand or a half hour in a motel doesn’t create an obligation to share all of your assets.

    It gets even worse when you consider that “living together” is also a slippery concept that could include any manner of being with another person. If you ride into the city in the same subway car as a dozen other people, you have in a sense lived with them for that time, and therefore ought to share your stuff with them.

    Why, simply being in the same world with others creates this obligation! That’s Socialism 101, right?

  3. “Why, simply being in the
    “Why, simply being in the same world with others creates this obligation! That’s Socialism 101, right?”

    Well, that’s the Pope’s view vis a vis immigration, isn’t it? The Left sees the family as completely fungible. The Pope sees the nation in the same terms.

  4. Marcus Tullius Cicero I just
    Marcus Tullius Cicero I just checked out your blog-site (others may go there by clicking on your screen name below your post) and it’s just about a complete crock. I would imagine someone who likes, say, Phil Donahue would like your site. It’s so riddled with sheer inability to comprehend issues that undertaking a refutation of even a small representative sample of its errors—which is what I had in mind quickly doing on this little 15-minute break I’m taking in my office—would be prohibitively time-consuming, and clearly wouldn’t make so much as a dent in your wrong-headedness. Sayonara … and best of luck with your site (at the rate you’re going, pal, you’ll need it).

  5. From Mrs. Cicero’s web
    From Mrs. Cicero’s web site:
    “Kalb is a very articulate defender of a not quite, but almost, whites-only view of America. The talk is mostly about maintaining cultural traditions and integrity, but this turns out to have a strong racial component in the minds of the writers at his site.”
    Need I say more? I will, it gets better.
    “I do not see that it makes a difference, as writers at his site seem to think it does, that some (many?) of the non-white immigrants to the US from our south are themselves racist haters of whites. Certainly we have a right to try to screen out that sort of thing among prospective immigrants. But that is not a right to utterly stem the flow, or to turn back the genuinely desperate.”
    Yes, what right do we have to turn back the genuinely desperate? I am in tears.
    “Besides. Do you recall how we ended up with Texas? Well? :-)”
    Yes, we stole that from Mexico. I guess we should give it back. It’s not like they were at war with us or anything. I suppose Israel should give back the occupied territories also, so that Egypt and Jordan can have an easier path to travel next time they try to destroy Israel.

  6. Well, I find Unadorned’s
    Well, I find Unadorned’s comment (and any unsubstantiated comment to the effect that something is rot) unhelpful and even counterproductive.

    Mr. Cicero on his blog has obviously naively assumed that culture and race are completely separable when he says:

    “We should also note that Mr. Kalb and his friends would likely oppose further significant immigration from our south even if there were no real danger of secession, on cultural grounds to begin with, but also on purely racial grounds, I think, if forced to clarify.”

    For my own part I would contend when pressed that culture and race are not completely separable rather than that “race alone” defines a relevant discriminand. In other words, the term “purely racial grounds” doesn’t refer to anything real when taken literally to mean race absolutely exclusive of culture.

    Another reasonable objection is that secession is certainly not the only threat: you don’t take care of your body solely to prevent amputation. So Mr. Cicero does seem to take a very unrealistic view of cultural health and our duty to protect it, all of which is of a piece with liberalism’s treatment of human beings as arbitrary free and equal abstractions rather than actual beings with actual important nonegalitarian connections to other beings.

    So while there may be something to Unadorned’s notion that there are problems with Mr. Cicero’s perspective as expressed on his blog, I think that it is better to say nothing than to hurl criticism without substance.

  7. In answer to MTC’s question,
    In answer to MTC’s question, the ALI is an extremely influential, respectable and long-established outfit devoted to law reform of a very establishmentarian sort.

    They do things like draft model codes of this, that and the other—the law of torts, real property transfers or whatever—that states tend to adopt on general good government grounds. The model codes are usually codifications of existing practice as it is tending to become among admired professionals, with some things added to make the rules more logical, efficient, in line with how people are tending to look at things and do things, and so on.

    So the short answer to the specific question is “no.”

  8. VFTR commenters know that we
    VFTR commenters know that we have legal systems in every state and a separate federal system as well—totaling 51 systems- which since the founding of the U.S. has made for many confusing and conflicting opinions and outcomes.
    The American Law Institute has diligently worked to update, streamline and unify American jurisprudence by publishing “Model Codes” in various legal subjects. This is done by committees of a few legal scholars, who share an interest on one legal sub-specialty or another, and who produce a series of recommended changes.
    No state is required to adopt these suggestions, but over the years, their recommendations have made so much sense and order out of chaos that much of their work has become standard references in every state’s annual legislative judicial statute reviews .

    Enviable record. Distinguished group

    ALI Family Law Committee suggests that non married co-partners be recognized as such and as owing duties to children raised by them.That makes sense in an America where children are often just abandoned or thrown on the financial trash heap by defaulting adults who swore responsibility for them. Nothing in the ALI Family Law study suggests a diminution of the family, or the status of married people, nor does it embrace the destruction of marriage.It does, however,open the door to recognition of non marital relationships, even thelesbian/homosexual ones ones without children.

    Marcus Tullius Cicero ( not the ersatz blogspot guy ) in De Divinatione says : “There is nothing so absurd but that some philosopher (or namesake) has said it”.

  9. I agree with Sandy here. I
    I agree with Sandy here. I do not believe that the ALI is putting itself in a position to decide which social conventions are acceptable, but is merely adapting the law to work for whatever situations society has already deemed acceptable. It is obvious by the divorce rates in our country that, in the interest of the children, it was necessary to hold non-married couples to the same degree of accountability as married ones. I don’t think anything the ALI does is going to contribute to the already 60+% divorce rate we have in this country, it is merely trying to protect the kids. Noble effort when looked at in that light, no?

  10. “Noble effort when looked at
    “Noble effort when looked at in that light, no?”

    Not a noble effort. To institutionalize, reward, and grant rights to non-marital arrangements is to to make such arrangements more viable and thus weaken marriage further, whereas society’s real interest is a return to traditional monogamous marriage.

    Some of the statements in this report and in the Times article about it are worth commenting on:

    “Homosexual conduct, like heterosexual extramarital conduct, should be disregarded unless shown to be harmful to an individual child.”

    Here is the marriage, excuse the pun, of liberalism and nominalism. There is no longer an essential meaning pertaining to homosexual conduct that society can have any particular stand toward vis a vis its place in the raising of a child; there are only discrete types of homosexual conduct, some of them (or rather, I suspect, nearly all of them) being “OK,” some (or rather almost none of them) being not OK.

    “Justice is hardly served by treating one spouse’s adultery as relevant to the alimony inquiry without also examining the other spouse’s conduct, the tacit understandings between them, and the conduct of both before and after the adulterous episode,” the report said. “Deciding which, if either, to condemn is difficult.”

    More nominalism. There is no instrinsic meaning of adultery that allows society to form any general rules and consequences regarding it. Adultery is neither good or bad. There are just invidual instances of adultery, some of which (excuse me, almost all of which), depending on the situation, are perfectly OK and do not disqualify a spouse/partner/parent in any way.

    “The institute’s proposals would expand the number of people who can claim custody of a child or visitation rights. Such claims could be made not only by the legal parents, but also by a ‘de facto parent,’ defined as an individual who has lived with the child at least two years and ‘regularly performed a majority of the caretaking functions’ without being paid.

    “For example, the report said, the lesbian partner of a child’s biological mother may, in some circumstances, be able to assert a right to custody or visitation when the relationship between the women ends.”

    Thus parental rights would be rewarded on an ad hoc basis. If a mother acquires a lesbian girlfriend for two years, who spends a lot of time looking after the kids, and then the couple breaks up, the girlfriend has acquired a color of parental rights over those children, just as someone who uses an easement over another person’s property for a certain number of years acquires the rights to that easement.

    Finally, in an earlier comment I said that this report expresses the idea that the fundamental unit of society is the self. That’s not correct, because the self is still a relatively unchanging, solid entity. Instead, the idea expressed by the report is that the fundamental units of society are passing desires.

  11. The legal context or
    The legal context or background against which the ALI family report was offered includes:

    1.Long extant No fault divorce laws in most states which made adultery,homosexuality or other sexual behaviors irrelevant as grounds for divorce since the 1980’s.The only grounds today are permanently irreconcileable differences.ALI recognizes that such behavior impacting the child IS valid evidence in child centered issues.

    2.Alimony in most states is rehabilitative only and no longer permanent.Can be awarded either partner.ALI recognizes there are a few jurisdictions where adultery can be used to defeat alimony,& suggests the totality of both parties behaviors and agreements concerning same is preferable as evidence
    3.Most states these days routinely award joint custody of children equally to both parents, denominating one the primary residential parent. ALI says that courts should award child custody/visitation proportionate to the time each parent/caregiver ordinarily spent with the child before the divorce.(Evidence of who was most interested in the child is admissable)

    4.The states seem to be trending toward recognition of defacto lesbian/ homo-sexual
    parenting relationships by statute in some by caselaw in others. ALI addresses and adds to childrens rights by holding the mommy-momy and daddy- daddy caregivers legally responsible.

    One can hardly make these people legally responsible for the children in their care without recognition of the situational dynamics.
    Approval of life style does not appear to me to motivate or infuse the ALI study.

  12. I am not sure I understand
    I am not sure I understand Sandy’s point. We should find the ALI document more acceptable because it is in line with current liberal norms?

  13. Matt: My point was that ALI
    Matt: My point was that ALI does not appear to have an overt, left wing,political POV like, say the American Bar Association.
    Its work,till now has been routine and non controversial. The lawyer/committees try to take the varied state laws and make them more unified and simpler.Sometimes they select one of several existing but conflicting legal rules as being more consistent with fairness than another, but thats about the limit of the choices they delve into.
    This time they seemed to have touched a live wire somewhere and I think it relates to the hot button issue of lesbian/homosexual participation in the traditional American family photo album.The gay/Lesbian front had already co-opted our court,legislature and cultural denial of “traditional” family status by using overseas adoption, artificial insemination and partnering with previously hertos persons with chldren to pry open access long before the ALI Family study was issued.Court cases in many states have dealt piecmeal with them and their kids.These cohabiting “others” never made up more than 2 to 5 % of our population.
    Why shoot the ALI messenger?

  14. I still don’t understand the
    I still don’t understand the objection. ALI published a document under its own name as a recommended model code. Sandy seems to be saying that ALI is a strictly formal organization and should not be responsible for the content of what it publishes. That seems like an odd “I was just following orders” sort of suggestion. My current objection is to the content of what ALI published. That objection might be raised to the level of objecting to ALI’s existence at all, if Sandy is right that ALI represents another instance of liberal formalism and the abolition of content and responsibility for content.

  15. The ALI “document” you refer
    The ALI “document” you refer to is a compendium or encyclopedia, if you prefer, of citations, rulings, statutes, decisions and judicial opinions already decided by the courts, distilled into a “model” for reference puposes only.
    The ALI is not government.It is not a legislative or judicial body and has no power to make or change law or govenment power to force its will.

  16. I am fully aware of the fact
    I am fully aware of the fact that a model code is not actual law. Is Sandy suggesting that the ALI model codes are not used by legislatures as a basis for legislation? I am not an expert by any means, but that flies in the face of what little I do know. Sandy seems to be saying that we should view the model code as an objective summary of how things are, with no implication whatsoever that it can or should be used as a basis for future legislation.

    First, to Sandy, is that in fact what you are saying? Secondly, to any resident legal expert, am I wrong to think that the ALI model codes are intended to provide a basis for future legislation?

    I am frankly somewhat puzzled by Sandy’s apparent advocacy of the perfect moral innocence of the model code and its authors despite the MC’s explicit content. What is the source and motivation of that advocacy?

  17. I would think your argument
    I would think your argument is better directed to the legislatures where laws are made, or the legislators who make those laws, but I guess you’d prefer to attack the Merriam-Webster dictionary folks.How is your version of P.C. any different than the odious left?

  18. Also, Sandy’s objections
    Also, Sandy’s objections seem particularly peculiar given the opening line of the NYT article:

    “An influential group of lawyers and judges has recommended sweeping changes in family law…”

    Is Sandy proposing that the media and Mr. Kalb, the lawyer-editor of VFR, have the story completely wrong: that there is no advocacy involved here at all, and that the ALI was simply publishing a summary of objective findings?

  19. Sandy asks a good question.
    Sandy asks a good question. My personal version of PC is different from the Left’s in two important ways.

    One way is that I do not attempt to suppress or deny the fact that I find some things, including some speech, objectionable and subversive of the truth. Plato thought that poetry and other lies should be carefully regulated, and I see no reason to disagree in principle, for example. Errors can be made on the side of freedom or the side of tyranny, and ironically they both end up at the same thing; but the truth shall set you free.

    The second important difference between my own personal version of PC and that of liberals pertains to specific content. Liberals are wrong about what is true, good, and beautiful, and about how to approach them. While I do not claim to have them fully grasped and contained I do claim that traditionalism (in conjunction with reason, aesthetic sense, and magisterium) provide an authentic (though always human and therefore imperfect) way to approach the good, the true, and the beautiful; whereas liberalism does not.

  20. Matt- Start finding
    Matt- Start finding objective evidence to support your replies on VFTR.Pure argument unless buttressed with the occasional evidentiary fact slipped in is boring and angry sounding.Try not to cast other commentaters as being in opposition to your “mommy” the media and the moderators.One on one is the rule of debate.Try first reading the documents in question, not just a sensational headline… it . Read the ALI study.Quote to me from it.

  21. Well, it is not uncommon for
    Well, it is not uncommon for others to find what I have to say boring, though “angry” seems odd and the notion that my POV is simply a parrot of others doesn’t seem credible. I am more than happy to have what I write stand on its own merits.

    As for facts, there are certainly plenty in the thread and the article, and Sandy is I think attempting to shift the burden of proof. If against all of what has been presented here – by all parties – Sandy thinks that the ALI simply publishes objective findings, that is at this point simply an assertion. I don’t see the need to go get more facts to support the advocacy case because it is the only case for which facts have been presented in this thread, by anyone.

    I am quite frankly only interested in this thread at this point because of the vehemence of the denial. Liberalism attempts to set itself up as objective and above all cultures, and this attempt to take a clear advocation of the legal abolition of the family and position it as objective reporting (“don’t shoot the messenger”) is what I find fascinating. Of course that could be a false interpretation, but since nobody has given a concrete reason to believe otherwise it remains presumptive. (I should say that Sandy has provided some factual context for the report, but, and this is the important bit, no factual basis for believing that the report is entirely free of either objective or subjective advocacy).

    Finally, someone who is interested in having ongoing discussions with me should probably refrain from the patronizing (matronizing?) mommy business or other ad hominem like it, since given my own no doubt odd proclivities that is the sort of thing I find boring.

  22. By the way, it doesn’t
    By the way, it doesn’t really matter what the ALI *thinks* it is doing or *wants* to be doing. Setting methods and intentions aside, what matters from a civilizational perspective is what it is *actually* doing. What it is *actually* doing appears to be providing a basis for the next stage in the overhaul of family law in such a way as to destroy the family.

    That makes it a legitimate target for Mr. Kalb’s criticism, and it was this resistence to the notion that it is a legitimate target for criticism that was interesting enough to elicit my latest comments.

  23. Matt: You twice indulged in
    Matt: You twice indulged in the childish game of ” I will quote my master thus defeating you”, sort of debate, so at least try not taking your masters name in vain by by mis-quoting him. Read some of the Kalb prior posts before you minvoke him as your partisan.

    In answer to MTC’s question, the ALI is an extremely influential, respectable and long-established outfit devoted to law reform of a very establishmentarian sort.

    They do things like draft model codes of this, that and the other—the law of torts, real property transfers or whatever—that states tend to adopt on general good government grounds. The model codes are usually codifications of existing practice as it is tending to become among admired professionals, with some things added to make the rules more logical, efficient, in line with how people are tending to look at things and do things, and so on.

    So the short answer to the specific question is “no.”

    Posted by: Jim Kalb on December 11, 2002 04:54 PM

  24. I suppose one could do worse
    I suppose one could do worse than to be apprentice to Mr. Kalb. I wonder where Sandy is getting the notion that the ALI is purely non-prescriptive in intent and effect from Mr. Kalb’s post, though. “Law reform” is a prescriptive phrase in this man’s English, and the fact that the institution is establishmentarian simply makes the current item all the more notable.

    Also, Sandy says I have misquoted Mr. Kalb. Where exactly have I quoted words of his incorrectly?

  25. I think he is referring to
    I think he is referring to the fact that he tried to start a discussion between the two of you, and when you challenged to present your own specific evidence in rebuttal to the evidence he presented, you simply defaulted on the postings of others. While there may be worse than be an apprentice to Mr. Kalb, you have, in my belief, failed to properly conduct a rational discourse between two people. You argue with speculative, subjective premises such as intent. Your latest post, where you question where Sandy gets the notion of the ALI’s intent, asks a question that you dismiss as trivial in your earlier post, “It doesn’t really matter what the ALI *THINKS* it is doing, or what it *WANTS* to be doing.” You did argue for the potential of such rulings to be harmful in your citation of Plato, but that was never an issue. You failed to address the issue at hand, which is proving that the ALI’s rulings really encourage the lifestyles that we all here deem subversive, and you provided no argument in your original point. Since we are quoting Greek philosophers, I think it is appropriate to say that you succeeded in using sophistry to avoid defeat, but failed to use any true rhetorical skills to provide any substance for your argument.

  26. Well, I think maybe Remus
    Well, I think maybe Remus and Sandy have overestimated both the level and scope of interest in this particular topic. Sandy and Remus seem to think (subject of course to their own clarification) that the ALI is or should be immune from criticism on the content of its report.

    Rhetorical excesses in asking my questions aside, I am still wondering 1) if that is the case, and if so 2) why.


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