Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

On gay marriage and Social Security

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Letters from Tom Jones and Tom Keller on Monday commented on two disparate subjects, though do bear connecting. Jones writes that marriage is for churches to decide, especially same-sex marriages.

Marriage is, and always has been, based on legal arrangements. Churches profit from the institution but hardly can legally divide inheritance, alimony, palimony, survivor benefits, visitation rights, etc. Lawyers are kept busy.

Churches may bless a marriage but turn a blind eye to divorce. According to Time magazine, a majority of people favor marriage for same-sex unions now, but with the plethora of laws and antiquated customs to overcome, the question has to be resolved legally.

Jones espouses giving homosexuals equal benefits. “Separate but equal” was promulgated as a settlement for racial segregation. The Supreme Court struck down separate but equal as “inherently unequal.”

Keller writes that Social Security has to be fixed.

I agree. I remember President Franklin Roosevelt saying that its purpose was to avoid poverty in one’s old age. I am sure he would not be happy to know that it has been pilloried and otherwise abused.

It was never meant to be paid to wealthy or gainfully employed. It was intended for those less fortunate, through no fault of their own, to receive a bit of money, saving their dignity and often, lives.

The fact that one pays in should not mean one has to receive. The strong have to bear the infirmities of the weak. If a wife survives her husband and receives benefits from his earnings, I feel the same should be available to a married same-sex couple without prejudice.

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  1. This letter writer and the first think exactly alike. And wrong. Both their economic logic is flawed. Pay into a Trust fund in order to get no benefits. Why? So those who can't pay in do get benefits. That's a classic system of welfare not retirement.

    Carmine D

  2. There is value in maintaining Social Security as an insurance program rather than changing it to a welfare benefit. I seriously doubt that many of the wealthiest among us even bother to collect it. If they do, up to 85% of Social Security benefits are taxable at a rate up to 39.6%.

  3. Social Security is not really the issue even though people like to discuss it on a daily basis. Its Medicare that is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

    On average a couple pays about $100,000 into Medicare and takes $350,000 out. That's the program along with Medicaid that need to be shored up.

    People are largely pulling out of Social Security what they paid in. The unfunded liabilities going forward are fraction of what they are in Medicare.

  4. Both antigov and zippert1 have valid points, the end result being, running health care for profit.

  5. First, a minister, priest or other party are not parties of a marriage. They are witnesses to the contract or covenant being entered into by the couple. Who is the "official" witness is a free choice for the couple to make.

    Other rites and services attached to a wedding are mostly related to religious beliefs and not the official contract between the couple, though may be a covenant with God. This is part of the separation of Church and State and should not be breached by civil laws. I see no need to even see an issue in this regard.

    To exclude the LGBT population from making a legal contractual marriage is to deny them their Constitutional and civil rights.

    Once the marriage contract is made, witnessed and registered with the State, it becomes legal and subject to all the same qualifications as any other such civil marriage contract.

  6. "Marriage is, and always has been, based on legal arrangements."

    Lofton -- no, it's not. Through the 19th century it was basically an ecumenical thing, and even divorces were handled by the churches. Somewhere along that timeline the states decided to require licenses. So far as Constitutionality goes, it's all been downhill from there.

    "First, a minister, priest or other party are not parties of a marriage. They are witnesses to the contract or covenant being entered into by the couple."

    peacelily -- wrong. The minister or priest officiates and performs/solemnizes the marriage ceremony, and they have to follow state laws in doing so. Otherwise you got it right.

    "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically." -- Henry David Thoreau 1849 "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"

  7. KillerB, yes, I left out "officiates" which would fall under the ritual part. For many a judge fills that role, without ritual related to any specific faith community.

    "Witnesses" refers specifically to the legal role in addition to their religious role.

    Still, the contract, or covenant, is between the couple, with or without inclusion of God. Depends on their beliefs.

    Breaking a covenant with God is much more a problem than breaking a contract between two individuals. Yet, it happens much too frequently in divorce within the religious communities.

  8. "Still, the contract, or covenant, is between the couple, with or without inclusion of God."

    peacelily -- if only that were all. The technical bits of law define marriage as a civil contract between the couple. The problem is the state by licensing becomes a part of that contract -- that's why court is involved to divorce. I think I'd be safe to say most who go through one would agree that's the worst possible place to end a relationship.

    Having been through one fuels my anti-government opinions on this issue. Intimate relationships are a private realm where the state not only doesn't belong, it should be permanently excluded.

    "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." -- Rod Stewart about divorce, Sunday Star Times, 10/28/2007