In the United States, there are certain inalienable rights granted to all. As the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen colonies states, 'among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' (Jefferson, 1787, Declaration of Ind. , Pg. 1) These rights are not 'special rights.' While the U.
S. government cannot hold back upon these rights, it does have the power to ratify and enforce laws that will enable or restrict its citizens' use of them. As a realistic part of the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom in one's domestic relationships is very important. The freedom to put together one's domestic relationships in ways that best fit one's needs, desires, and life is critical in one's pursuit of happiness. The importance of this freedom to arrange one's domestic relationships freely becomes understandable in versions of the 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA), which is proposed, and sometimes passed, on the national and state levels. DOMA legislation, in its different forms, limits the legal definition of marriage to the "legal union of a man and woman." (Sullivan, 1976, DOMA Act, pg.
2) As the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... .' (Jefferson, 1787, Constitution of U. S.
, PG. 4) The tradition of Judeo-Christian 'marriage' is the life-long heterosexual union of one male and one female; this definition excludes all other possible combinations. The U. S. government has given itself the power to make this definition of 'marriage' (which is a religious establishment) a state definition and to give it special privileges and legal status. The legal status, privileges and other benefits of legally recognized marriage are withheld from those unions that are different from the traditional union of "marriage." The 'benefits' of legally recognized marriage include medical care and visitation rights, death and distribution of one's estate, child custody and parental rights.
Expanding the definition of marriage to include homosexual and heterosexual domestic partners, as certain popular political movements have requested, will not solve this issue. There are many different ways people can have relationships and to define them all in a state definition would be difficult. Even if this could be done it would still exclude single men and women who choose not to be in such a relationship from these benefits. The just answer is to eliminate marriage as state establishment, and to place it within the private jurisdiction as the definition of religion is.
To allow the 'pursuit of happiness' in life, one must be free to arrange domestic relationships in ways that satisfy one's needs, desires, and lifestyle. To start a definition of legally official relationships that is deeply fixed in a particular cultural and religious tradition is to restrict that freedom for all. 'Marriage' must be removed from the area of public life and placed within private area, just as the First Amendment has placed religion in the private area. In 'pursuit of happiness,' everyone must be free to arrange domestic relationships in ways that satisfy their needs, desires, culture, and lifestyle.