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A Reflection on Civil Marriage! By Dr. Laurence Ajaka

Civil marriage is an issue that is constantly revived and dug up to be rehashed in the same inconsistent manner whenever there is a lull in the newsfeed. It is one of the buttons that are pushed whenever a political deadlock is reigning in our country. Many have tried to exploit it in the name of freedom and advancement, but it remains an affront to our identity.

The situation is not as black and white as most people seem to be claiming. The way the media covers these stories would leave you convinced that people from different religions have never been married in Lebanon. This is a falsehood as there are numerous marriages where Christians and Muslims got married by a clergy from either religion. They live in harmony under the blessing of religion. One of them has to be willing to convert on official documents, but that does not mean that they have to change their convictions in real life. Over the decades since its conception, Lebanon has nurtured individuals from different religious backgrounds with minimal backlash.

 

Some would argue that a civil marriage will solve issues of mixed marriages, but that is a falsehood because Lebanon does not have civil laws. Most people think that civil marriage is the key, but the children from such unions end up suffering. Some judges are forced to withhold registering the birth of children from civil unions because they do not have the adequate legal frame to do so. These children also cannot have a religion written on their ID, and therefore they will struggle to find jobs within the government that distributes positions according to sects. In essence, these well-intentioned are depriving their offspring of lifelong security.

Women also suffer when it comes to civil marriage. Whenever these couples get married, they have to use the law of the country where they forged your union. Every marriage is vulnerable, and even civil unions will possibly unravel. When that happens, the judge presiding over the case has to use the laws in the country of union. This might sound simple, but judges spend years and years trying to fathom the complexity of one legal system, so they will not be able to understand the nuisances of a new system in a matter of weeks and even months. Ignorance in matters of justice will often lead to injustice, and women tend to be more vulnerable than men in almost every legal system. Issues such as alimony and child support could easily be muddled. Trying to impose them would also confuse law enforcement agencies that are not familiar with the ramifications and procedures to follow.

 

Let us be realistic. All the weddings on beaches and social media stunts will not solve the issue. Being hasty and breaking all the norms of society will not endear the cause for the older and more conservative generation. Having a civil marriage to spite society will reflect negatively on those who make this choice as well as their children. Take the hard road to get the consent and cooperation of the whole society to ensure there is a complete and comprehensive civil law to preserve the integrity of everyone involved.

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