When I posted a wedding photo a few days ago, I got a lot of emails and texts from people (mostly) all asking the same question, a frantic But is it legal?, sometimes with exclamation marks stuck in there too -- which struck me as a strange thing for so many people to be waving their arms about.
Marriage itself is essentially a promise between individuals, it's a measure of love and this "legal" can't well quantify. We witness it as friends and family because we care and the state witnesses it because they're involved when property changes hands, when money is spent, when people enter or leave the country, or minors need to be cared for, and they think that some relationships are more equal than others -- sometimes that a parent one hasn't spoken to in twenty years knows you better than a person you've lived intimately with for the same amount of time. And they do that because it's easier to make blunt decisions based on things like numbers on paper rather than on intangible things. "Does Sally love Fred?" is a question governments don't have time, or really the ability to answer. "Did Sally and Fred fill out document 221B?" -- that's easy to answer.
We live in a world where people who love one another are often prohibited from being legally married for a variety of reasons and yet Brittny Spears and Allen Alexander can get legally married as a joke and thousands or tens of thousands of people legally marry people who abuse them, who they don't like, or for money, or social position, or citizenship, because their parents bully them into it, for any number of things. Paperwork is a pale measure but for some reason we're caught up in it -- judging the car by the paint rather than it's performance.
The question to be concerned with when someone tells you they got married isn't "Is it legal?" but rather "Is it love?"
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