L'affaire du mariage annulé met Rachida Dati en difficulté
June 4, 2008 6:46 AM   Subscribe

Rachida Dati, France's Minister of Justice, faces a difficult position after a judge annulled a Muslim marriage because of lies over the wife's virginity. posted by djgh (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might as well note that not all women bleed even if they are virgins.
posted by dabitch at 7:17 AM on June 4, 2008

He could not display the blood-stained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride’s “purity”.

First of all, ew.

Second, she should simply have said that his penis was too small and feeble to consummate the marriageShe could then have moved annul the marriage on the grounds that her husband deceived her about being a man.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

Saw this referred to as "Virginitygate" in this morning's paper. This is the sort of thing that horrifies me but doesn't actually surprise me. I start to get all outraged and ready to rant but then it just overwhelms me how much shit like this goes on, and how it feels like it will never stop, and I just turn the page and move onto the next piece of depressing news.
posted by jontyjago at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2008

Well, she admitted that she was not a virgin, so forget about the blood for a sec.

As for Dati, it's not that hard of a position. The judge was wrong according to French law. Take corrective measures, whatever the law calls for. That's why laws are codified.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2008

On the other hand, if the marriage was based on a fraud, akin to a U.S. man misrepresenting his wealth, wouldn't the woman have legal recourse to dissolve it?

I admit I'm not intimate with either country's marriage laws. It is a contract, right? If one side is deceiving the other, isn't that a factor in determined the contract's validity.

This event further shows that having a government regulate personal relationships is a pretty stupid idea. (Yes, I am married.)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:04 AM on June 4, 2008

Islam is great. Go, Islam. Thanks for giving us math.
posted by alexwoods at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2008

President Sarkozy calls her a "symbol" of his attempts to break down racial and social and gender barriers in France. As a symbol, he has told her several times, she has "no right to fail".

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:48 AM on June 4, 2008

yes mrgrimm, you're right, the marriage was disolved on the grounds that there was a fraud (that's it). Now people are arguing to know whether the case is going to be a symbol or not. First rachida Dati (in charge of justice in the government) said that the decision was OK. Then she said that it wasn't something the society could accept. I don't know the cricket who told her so, but the unfortunate bride has just been redirected from a shortcut to get rid of an asshole to a long march made of painful headaches and lame lectures.
posted by nicolin at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2008

Yeah, I have to admit I read this thinking 'so what?' It was dissolved because the bride misrepresented herself to her husband on a point that was, for him, not up for compromise. That it had to do with her virginity doesn't really seem relevant. As the articles point out, Catholics occasionally use the law to annul marriages with partners who reveal they were divorced. And again, it's because of deception.

Before people jump all over me, I find the reason behind the annulment distasteful as hell, but that doesn't mean the law was unfair or applied incorrectly.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2008

Islam is great. Go, Islam. Thanks for giving us math.

I've known more than my share of Christians who took virginity way, way, waaaay too seriously too. It's not just one religion's fault: there's more than enough stupidity to go around.
posted by rokusan at 12:28 PM on June 4, 2008

I think this is the best thing that could have happened to the bride. Better a quick divorce than being stuck with such an asshole for the rest of her life.
posted by sour cream at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2008

Islam is great. Go, Islam. Thanks for giving us math.

This is the rant of a racist asshole who knows little of the world. So why listen to him? I'm from the former Yugoslavia. This "virginity test" with the blood and all is still a popular thing where I come from, at least among certain groups. Unfortunately, they're not any more likely to be Muslims than Christians. It's frequently done in Serbia, parts of Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, and so on - in Christian populations. It's also common in some Asian countries, and variations exist all over the world, in every kind of society.

To put this in the same obnoxious, hysterical and prejudiced context as 'alexwoods,' let me write a true tale, of which I have personal knowledge:

A young Muslim girl was gang-raped for days by a large group of "Christians," who laughed as they spit on her and burned her with cigarettes and joked about how "no man will want her" because she has been so disgustingly defiled. They took the sheets (for she had been a virgin) and hung them from the window where she was tortured and raped by those "working the nation and the (Christian) Church" - a fuck you to the entire Muslim village, who understood the implications, and who knew that their wives and daughters might be next, and that their sons and fathers might soon be executed - as many of them were.

Thanks for giving us the Smurfs and McDonald's, Christians!

If you're going to engage in a cultural pissing contest, Alex, educate yourself first. An ignorant person who makes gross cultural assumptions about one "society" without looking at the bigger picture is just a low-class racist. On a purely personal level, I'm sure I've got more reasons to unleash anti-Christian anger on the world than you do to unleash your anti-Muslim venom. But venting such anger is a futile and idiotic endeavor; most people who call themselves Christians are pretty fine people, and I can see that as clearly as day, despite losing my parents and home to brutal savages who operated under a flag of Christianity. If I can see past my own history to glean a deeper truth, it's absolutely pathetic of you to not be able to do the same in response to a little article you read somewhere.

You're wrong, and what's worse is that your prejudice serves no one. You've added to the amount of hatred in the word to no purpose at all. So be a man, and apologize without making lame excuses and flimsy justifications for your hatred. The world would get along much better without attitudes such as yours polluting it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:21 PM on June 4, 2008 [13 favorites]

One interesting item is that Dati, when she was younger, agreed to marry a man that her parents introduced to her, then the day after the wedding decided to divorce him...It might ring too close to home for her.
posted by Oneirokritikos at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2008

This is, indeed, a good time to RTFA.
The ruling can be read that way. Fundamentalist Islam does not demand virgin bridegrooms, only virgin brides. The judgement is also, however, a fairly logical application of France's existing marriage law. Several devout Catholic spouses have won similar annulments on the grounds that their partner had lied to them and concealed a previous divorce. Devout Catholics have a right, under French law, to demand undivorced spouses. That does not mean that French courts disapprove of divorce...

[and later]

The justice ministry has therefore asked the local public prosecutor to appeal against the judgment – and to try to restore the marriage of two young people who no longer want to be married.
If the bride and groom don't want to be married here, why the fuck should it matter *why* they don't want to be married? If he wants to divorce her because, after closer inspection, he was sickened by her nose hair, well, so be it. The marriage isn't going to work if the groom is repulsed by the bride.

The position that the French appear to be taking here (a position, I might add, that makes them seem to be pretty similar to Americans) is that they should be able to intervene in matters of marriage and divorced.

Jeez, back off, oh French government and Citizens. Don't force these two to remain married.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:54 PM on June 4, 2008

good debunking here (in french).
Basically, both spouses agreed to revoke the wedding, so it wouldn't have been an issue, except if you seek annulment, you must give a reason (even if there's a mutual agreement). Had they divorced (by mutual consent) instead, no justification would have been needed...

"Beaucoup de bruit pour rien", but it is fascinating/depressing to see how even the liberal mainstream press is using this story as a thin cover for racism... had the people in this story not been thought about as "muslim arabs", coverage about this story would have been very different. (their names aren't public so nobody knows really)
posted by motdiem2 at 1:57 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

how even the liberal mainstream press is using this story as a thin cover for racism

I've yet to see any evidence that the mainstream media anywhere is particularly liberal. It is generally middle of the road (seeking to please as many as it can), with notable exceptions. (Of course, the US media seems right wing to many non-Americans, but that would be because the whole country is more right-wing).
posted by jb at 2:33 PM on June 4, 2008

Joey Michaels: Jeez, back off, oh French government and Citizens. Don't force these two to remain married.

motdiem2 has already addressed this, but it bears repeating: The issue is not whether they have to stay married or not. Nobody -- not even fundy Catholics or Muslims, as far as I can tell -- is suggesting that they cannot be divorced.

The question is whether the marriage can be annulled or needs to be divorced. The difference is that if it is annulled, they can be married again (to someone else, hopefully) on the next day. To get divorced, there are different standards to be met, such as staying separate for a year or so (dunno about France, though).

The reason why you cannot get divorced from one day to another is that society thinks that marriages should be protected and you shouldn't be able to change your spouse like you can change a T-shirt. This protection kicks in from day 1 of your marriage. But if the marriage was null and void to begin with, then there is really nothing to protect, and you can just part ways without going through the divorce. But annulling the marriage requires a reason why the marriage was null and void to begin with (mutual consent is not enough, otherwise you could easily circumvent the separation period of divorce).

The issue at hand is whether the bride lying about her virginity (assuming that this is what happened here) is enough reason for annulling the marriage.
posted by sour cream at 2:46 PM on June 4, 2008

So be a man, and apologize without making lame excuses and flimsy justifications for your hatred.

To be fair, I see this kind of snark directed at Christians and Christianity here all the time. I've yet to see anybody apologize for it. And as snark goes, this was pretty moderate stuff.

Not sure why muslims are somehow more deserving of tippy-toe treatment than any other religion.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:23 PM on June 4, 2008

What the big deal is, is that marriage's status in secular contract law is changing, but the religious laws date from the time when marriage was an almost purely contractual matter (although what was being contracted was often, literally, peace). A marriage of two families, not just of two people; the purpose, to produce an heir to both houses, the participants decided by the fathers (or eldest brother) of the groom and the bride. Generally speaking, it's fair to say that one's father would try to obtain a good marriage for his child, but political and financial considerations could trump welfare; and the fact that marriage was an alliance between two houses made it the mechanism of allying two houses, hence the occasional marriage between, say, a widow of forty and a six-year-old boy. Even under Salic primogeniture, to give a daughter of house A to be a wife to a son of house B (the origin of "giving away" the bride) was seen to be of general benefit, because if everyone participated, sons could be married and heirs born. It forged closer alliances, was a sign of good faith, exchanged a daughter who could not inherit and had fewer legal rights than a son, and so on. There were all kinds of consequences and emergent behaviors (the marriage broker industry, for example); the history of marriage as a concept is quite interesting, and few historical marriage practices are at all compatible with gender equality, or equality of inheritance. Marriage law was, and still is, about inheritance law. (This has great relevance to the debate about same-sex marriage; freedom of inheritance allocation, in particular.)

So marriage used to be something nobility did for practical reasons, and the lower classes followed whether or not it was practical or necessary for them to do so. The laws on the subject, religious and secular, were written to suit the nobility, but the lower classes lived by all such laws that also applied to them: a classic case of rich and poor alike being forbidden to sleep under bridges. While the secular law has moved on, the religious law, in general, has not. Thus the "big deal".

From a secular point of view it's an easy question to solve: does France do no-fault divorce? If so, the question of the bride's virginity is relevant only inasmuch as it forms the husband's "reason" for not wanting to be married. A person is entitled to be divorced for stupid reasons or even for no reason at all, that is what "no fault" implies.

If France doesn't do no-fault divorce, but leaves it to the parties to define "fault", there clearly is a "fault" here: the woman promised something which she in fact knew that she did not have. (Or alternatively, to lack something that she in fact had.) She could have promised to drink only tea, or sprout wings and fly him to the moon each night, or whatever: if he sincerely believed her, and considered it to be an issue so vital to him that he would not have married her had she not made that promise, then on proving the promise false he is entitled to the divorce.

However, "fault" divorce rests on the fault being meaningful, which is what the question here is about. Otherwise nobles past could--and historically did--extract promises for impossible things and then hold them as a sword of Damocles over the marriage. So the as the law developed, the number of "faults" were restricted down to infidelity (and female virginity, by tradition, counted here, except obviously where the wife was a widow or divorcee), gross abuse, treason, religious apostasy, insanity, infertility (generally the wife's), and a few other matters.

But is virginity meaningful in the context of marriage? Well, maybe. Even in a secular society, it's still meaningful in the context of love. People, generally, advise each other to lose their virginity to someone they love. (Although many just want to get it over with, a rite of passage into adulthood.) To my mind the conditions of the marriage are a question that the people involved have the right to decide, which implies a system of no-fault divorce. If it's that important to you, go ahead and promise it, and if the promise is broken, well, that's what "no-fault" divorce is for. The courts don't have to get into whether it was reasonable, or even possible, for you to make the promise, or even decide whether or not you kept it.

Now it's central to the issue that this is an annulment they're after, rather than a divorce. But given the little time involved, I don't see how it's a practical difference, assuming French inheritance law doesn't grant spouses an interest in each others' property on the instant of the marriage. If not, then presumably both parties spent some considerable time and money preparing for the ceremony, which they have a claim against each other for; having been married for a few hours, they have acquired no mutual property except wedding presents and the remnants of the cake. Division of assets should be trivial.

Apparently French law doesn't offer no-fault annulment. There's your problem right there, as the saying goes. Seems to me a 14-day (or some similar short time) period for "no-fault" annulment would be sensible, during which the court can order a "rewind" of assets contributed and an equal division of assets acquired. After that, get divorced. The distinction is religious and social; it need not be legal or financial. The Justice Minister could, and should, say: "Without passing judgment on either party, we grant the annulment, and we will redraft the annulment law in line with community expectations of divorce law. Good luck to you both."

To my understanding the major reason for annulment requiring fault is "to protect women"; a man should not be permitted to marry a woman, have sex with her, and then seek to have the marriage annulled. Having "given herself to him", she is entitled to rely on his promise. However, such practices are largely a thing of the past, and I think it's safe to say that the overwhelming majority of women who would want a marriage ceremony before having sex with someone are members of religious faiths, and would only marry a man who was himself a member of the faith. If the faith practices arranged marriages, that kind of plan is hardly something the bride's family (or the groom's family) will lightly go along with. It seems to me that it would be a rare cad in 2008 who talks church girls into bed with promises of marriage, and even if he did, it'd be a rarer cad who went to the trouble of an actual marriage just to bed one specific girl ... who, despite being obsessed with having sex with, he's completely unwilling to be married to. The idea seems absurd. And if such a cad gets her pregnant, well, we all know a wedding band is not a form of contraception, and that's what child support and single mothers' pensions are for.

In this case, the religious and social consequences for her could be bad, and I worry for her. (To hell with him. What a jackass.) But Islam is not, at the moment, a faith that works well with gender equality and freedom of sexual relations and freedom of inheritance allocation. Since I greatly prefer all of those things to Islam for myself, and I (not being a cultural relativist) prefer them for all humanity as well, I'd have to say that getting out of it is a good thing. Even if it occurs at some personal cost, knowing nothing else about the woman, odds are good that she'd have a better life away from Islam, and if her family prefer the practice of Islam to her rights and her safety, then to hell with them as well.

Which is easy for me to say, and hard for her to do, but that's true of such advice from anyone to anyone.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:49 PM on June 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Dee, thanks for your response. I am not surprised by the level of venom (which I expected), but by the thoughtfulness. So let me clarify, without really apologizing. I am not comparing Islam to Christianity, and certainly not to Christianity in its more extreme forms, but judging it on its own merits, and here is my conclusion: It is dog shit. I probably could have said that less obnoxiously in my first post, but I was still annoyed with myself for not responding to a post a while back about the gifts of Islam to the West, so I apologize for that. I will say this though: if there is anything that is adding unequivocally to the world's store of hatred, it is Islam. I'll carve "moderate Islam" out of that assertion when someone proves to me that it exists. I'm not interested in comparing it with Christianity though, and I'm so fucking tired of the position that I can't criticize Islam because Christians (of which I am presumably one?) have done some bad things in the past, or in marginal areas. If it makes you feel better, I think your example of atrocities committed by Christians in the former Yugoslavia is totally appalling. But, it doesn't mean that sharia in France is beyond criticism.
posted by alexwoods at 5:45 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

sour cream: "The issue at hand is whether the bride lying about her virginity (assuming that this is what happened here) is enough reason for annulling the marriage."

Virginity was not the issue, per se, it's lying that was the issue. And all this is that crappy bullshit. The Judge, the spouses had no problem with the judgment whatsoever, so I don't get why all the" fuss.
posted by zouhair at 9:52 PM on June 4, 2008

aeschenkarnos: "But, it doesn't mean that sharia in France is beyond criticism."

That's just stupid, what sharia has to do with this judgment, nothing in this judgment has to do with Islam.

A guy tells his future wife that for him virginity is a big deal, the future wife told him she was virgin, at the wedding night she admitted not being virgin. Deception occurs, the husband weeks later asked a judge to nullify the marriage, the wife was OK with it, the judge was OK with it, the lawyers were OK with it, and the marriage was nullified. END OF STORY

What Sharia has to do with it??

And about sharia, there is nothing against the marriage of a non virgin, but deceit is, in Sharia as in secular law, an enough reason to end a marriage.
posted by zouhair at 10:01 PM on June 4, 2008

That's alexwoods, not me, and while the judgment itself has little or nothing to do with Islam, the reasons for the groom to seek the judgment have everything to do with Islam.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:13 AM on June 5, 2008

The key point here, I think, is that the French procedure for annulling a marriage is quite different from anything in UK or US law. Under the French civil code, an annulment may be granted where there has been a 'mistake as to the person, or as to essential capacities of the person'. In other words, the grounds for annulment are defined very broadly, and can apply (e.g.) to cases where one partner has concealed an essential fact about themselves, such as a criminal record or a previous marriage. So it's not that much of a stretch to argue that they could also apply to cases where one partner has concealed a previous sexual history (such that the marriage would not have taken place had the facts been known).

zouhair: I take your point that this is not about sharia. But when you say 'nothing in this judgment has to do with Islam' I think you're being a bit disingenuous. Can you really not see why some people might be troubled by this case? It does, after all, set a legal precedent; I don't know (how can I know?) what the consequences will be, but if, as some commentators are predicting, it leads to more Muslim women undergoing cosmetic surgery to have their hymens restored, I'd regard that as a very good reason to change the law. (I'm not saying this will happen, I'm saying it might happen.) This isn't just about anti-Muslim prejudice; there are legitimate reasons to take note of this case and keep an eye on the possible consequences.
posted by verstegan at 1:57 AM on June 5, 2008

the reasons for the groom to seek the judgment have everything to do with Islam.

Oh baloney, he's simply saying that she entered the marriage (by her own admission) deceiving him/fraud (or whatever legal term is used in France)

I was once married to a catholic (a quick eloping with no family witnesses), but we soon realized it was a bad idea for us to be married yet live continents apart, so I told him that I would be happy to have it annulled, out of respect for his family & religion, so that he might have a chance to wed again in a church with his mother a witness. He agreed and now we must think up a good reason for annulment. The reason we came up with was: I had entered into the marriage based on fraud, that is I had told him that I wanted children but after the wedding I said that I never wanted children.

All hogwash by the way, but it was enough to get it annulled. The bride lied. Case closed.
posted by dabitch at 5:45 AM on June 5, 2008

This whole 'grounds for annullment' thing sounds very odd to me. The only time we hear much about it in the UK is under the circumstances dabitch describes. A religious couple marries. They have a long and productive (in terms of offspring) marriage. Marriage falls apart and said couple seperate/divorce.

Then, one party meets someone else, and wants to marry again. For Catholics, this is quite important, because if they're fucking, or living together, or have remarried, then they're in a state of sin, and so will be denied the sacrament of communion. So you're kind of fucked then. Marginalized in your religious community, no chance of getting into heaven -- either you stop fucking your new beloved, or you make the world believe that your marriage of the last twenty or thirty years was based on a lie. Church appoints an ecclesiastical investigation, they interview all concerned and report back to the Pope, who then gives you the thumbs up or the thumbs down on the basis of how much you've donated to the Catholic coffers over the past few years. There's nothing like buying a few indulgences to get you through to the Promised Land.

But when it comes to concealment, who decides what's important and what's not?

Wife: "Your honour, my husband farts in bed after we've just had sex. He never used to fart before we were married, thereby leading me to believe his sphincter control was sound. What's more, his diet of Guiness and Vindaloo means his gut brews up a particularly vile and noxious gas. When we were single, this man only ever drank bottled water and ate cucumber sandwiches with the crusts removed.

These vile farts are proof that he neither loves nor respects me. Sometimes, he even tries to hold my head under the blanket, leading me to fear for my life due to methane poisoning. Please give me an annulment on the grounds of deception."

Judge: "Get the fuck out of here. My wife promised me that she'd give me blow jobs every night when we got married. The only decent hummer I've had in twenty years was the one that Eliot Spitzer bought for me at the Emperors Club. Oy vey, I should get such a nosh regularly, but who can afford $2000 a time? I'd have to be on the payroll of the Gambino Family or Big Tomacco to be able to get such blowjobs. Life is a series of disappointments, and then we die.

Case dismissed!"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:18 AM on June 5, 2008

I think there's a legitimate public-policy question of what circumstances you want to allow as grounds for alleged "fraud" in the context of a divorce or marriage annulment (or really, in any other private contract or agreement).

I think the situation might be akin to laws preventing the entrenchment of racism via private-party contracts. It doesn't matter if both parties agree to it, some things are just not allowed. It seems pretty reasonable for a society to decide, purely as a matter of common-good policy, that they don't want someone's "virginity status" to be an issue that can be raised in contracts.

Since it's generally the woman's virginity that gets called into question, I think there's a pretty reasonable argument for prohibiting its inclusion in marriage contracts, or its use as a reason for fault-based divorce or annulment, because it's de facto sexist. And then there's just the question of whether you want to allow your secular legal system to be used to enforce, even indirectly, something that your society feels is repugnant and medieval, as I suspect many people feel the Muslim (and other religions') conception of virginity-as-personal-worth is.

That seems to be the crux of the whole business. It's not really about the details of the particular case -- in this situation, it seems like the virginity argument was giving the woman an 'out' from a crappy situation -- it's a question of whether you want to validate, however indirectly, possibly-repugnant social ideas by allowing the judicial system to be used as their enforcement arm in some way.

Personally I think the state should just stay out of marriages altogether -- no registration of them, no tax benefits for them, no probate as a result of them, etc. -- just eliminate them completely on an official level and make the individual the sole unit acted upon by the state. If people want joint finances, there are ways of doing that, and same for custodial agreements, medical powers of attorney, etc. Not only would it have benefits for the increasingly number of unmarried-but-living-together people (not to mention nontraditional and single-sex partners), it would eliminate situations like this one where the secular judicial system and religious beliefs intersect, by eliminating a major source of overlap.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:32 AM on June 5, 2008

I have to agree with Kadin2048. Throw the useless institution out. It is just a financial arrangement that can be made legally in other ways. Marriage as conceived by the Abrahamic religions is the basic unit of the patriarchy (and probably is in other cultures.) It's about power and control. If indeed both parties were happy about the ruling, the underlying reasons for using those terms for the ending of the marriage still speak loudly about how the worth of men and women are defined.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 5:07 PM on June 5, 2008

as some commentators are predicting, it leads to more Muslim women undergoing cosmetic surgery to have their hymens restored
I couldn't find a source for it, but for some reason a vial of animal blood passed from the mother of the bride to her daughter (or groom's mother to her daughter-in-law) springs to mind as a traditional solution. And there's always the uglier, but less detectable, practice of cutting herself inside a few hours before the wedding, so it has time to heal.

Or scheduling the wedding appropriately to coincide with menstruation. But sex with a menstruating woman is another sin. Perhaps the "virginity test" is the original reason why.

dabitch Oh baloney, he's simply saying that she entered the marriage (by her own admission) deceiving him/fraud

Yes, that she lied is simply a fact. But why she felt she had to, why her virginity matters to the groom, why she said she was a virgin, and why the groom threw a tantrum and demanded annulment when he found out otherwise, that has everything to do with Islam.

Kadin2048 Personally I think the state should just stay out of marriages altogether -- no registration of them, no tax benefits for them, no probate as a result of them, etc. -- just eliminate them completely on an official level and make the individual the sole unit acted upon by the state.

Sounds fair in theory, but you're leaving out the primary function of a marriage: as a mechanism of inheritance law, clarifying who does, and who does not, inherit estates. There are solutions of course: wills, DNA testing, etc. But I'd want to see a mechanism for providing fair inheritance to a child who was raised as the child of mother X and father Y, but is genetically the son of X and Z, where X and Y die simultaneously and intestate. If your mechanism fails to provide for that, you risk significant harm to a lot of people.

I prefer the civil/religious functions be divided, ie a "civil partnership" declaration can be made between any two competent adults, such that A and B inherit first from each other, have such powers over each other in terms of medical decisions, court testimony, etc that a marriage traditionally conveys; and children residing with and acknowledged by A and B as theirs jointly (ie both file "parenthood" declarations), have a claim on A's and B's estates.

Of course, we could get rid of inheritance as such, which would probably fund a basic educational endowment for every child ... :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:03 AM on June 6, 2008

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