It used to be said one oughtn't to have sex without love, but according to Julia Perles, a lawyer specializing in the intricacies of matrimony, now "you shouldn't have love without a contract."
Ms. Perles has reference to the fact that at any moment a court may declare the lovers or former lovers to be, if not married, contractually yoked. dThe famous Michelle Triola Marvin palimony suit wasn't a single, freakish court decision but the act of creation of something that is now referred to as cohabitation law.
Since the Marvin case there have been more and more such suits being entertained by judges, where once the case would never even have gotten a hearing. What started in California state court has spread to the federal courts.
In New York City, where rent controlled apartments are at a premium, a court has decreed that if one partner in an unmarried couple dies, the other inherits the apartment as a widow or widower would. A federal court has ruled that it is a violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act for a bank not to count the salaries of both persons in an unmarried relationship in determining mortgage eligibility. In New Jersey, the surviving member of such a yoking can sue for damages if a dead partner was killed due to negligence of some third party.
Wherefore comes all this litigation that never would have been permitted a day in court 10 years ago?
In part it is legal churning to make money for lawyers. Starting with the Supreme Court and working on down, or up depending on your opinion of the nine robed geezers, judges are showing an increasing tendency to let anything, any legal assertion, no matter how wacked out, screwball or bizarre, go to trial. A lot of reasons with Latin phrases are attached to the explanations of why anything at all will now be admitted for trial but the most important is the one that's never given. It means more business for lawyers.
Take the Billie Jean King-Marilyn Barnett case in California or a similar dispute involving two persons of the male gender in New York. A few years ago a clerk of the court wouldn't have even allowed a lawyer to file such a suit. But now we have the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that we will have property settlements in common law homosexual marriages, although no state legislature in the nation has seen fit to empower anyone, official, lay or clerical, to celebrate such a marriage.
At the same time that the boys and girls of the bar are creating homosexual marriage they are at work destroying heterosexual marriage. This is not because everybody in a black robe goes home to a closet at night, but because the American bar has a built-in propensity to fiddle, finagle and change any point of law that appears fixed, settled and simple.
Just as the lawyers bring homosexual marriage into existence by putting suits like the King-Barnett argument in the courts, they are obliterating the civil definitions of heterosexual marriage. The marriage state is no longer one entered into by concrete, definite act and, we trust, some thought and reflection. We no longer get married; some of us, at any rate, simple become married. It just happens somewhere along the line when one shares an apartment, a house, or perhaps even just a motel room with someone else.
At the minimum this lessens the personal and social importance of getting married. Where it used to be a solemn occasion, licensed by the state and presided over by a religious or civil magistrate, a serious moment of two persons coming together to found a family, it is now something that happens to you or is done to you at no specific time or place.
All done without so much as a burp of approval or authorization from any legislative body in the entire Republic. And done in the characteristic way of the profession, which is to make the simple complicated, the easy-to-understand hopelessly obscure. Where once everyone in America knew the legal definition of marriage, now nobody does. To find out, we will pay more dimes and more dollars and there's no need to say to whom.