Blockchain Marriages, the Way of the Future?
More people are using blockchain marriages to individualize their marital contracts. Will it change the way we marry?
Maybe you are hip to such things as blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrency. I am not, so when I recently discovered that there was a blockchain marriage, I knew I had to try to understand, what the heck does a blockchain marriage even mean?
Well, it’s a marriage that’s a heck of a lot like the individualized marital contracts presented in The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels.
But let me step it back.
The first blockchain marriage was in 2014, when Joyce Bayo and David Mondrus tied the knot at Disney World’s Bitcoin Conference with a contract they created between themselves, without the involvement of governmental or religious representations, and that they recorded on the blockchain. “For better or worse, ’til death do us part, because the blockchain is forever,” the couple stated.
Back to marriage’s beginnings
For Jeffrey Tucker, an advocate of anarcho-capitalism (that was new for me, too) who officiated the marriage, it was a huge step forward … but a giant step back — in a good way — into marriage’s past:
Moving agreements to the Blockchain detaches the vows from the court system, the political system, jurisdictional geography, and third parties in general, among which the state itself. It’s a form of privatizing your own marriage, transferring it from the public sector to the realm of private decision making — the two people who actually make the marriage happens — where it belongs. Recall that aside from the technology here, this private status is precisely how marriage has been contracted for nearly all of human history until fairly recently. Marriage has only been the monopoly of the state for little more than one-hundred years. That’s when we got this thing called a marriage license, and it wasn’t long before the politicians were using the institution for its own purposes, deciding who you could marry and could not.
Tucker’s right. Marriage was essentially a private contract for most people, even recognized by the church (which was originally against marriage but eventually realized that if it couldn’t stop it, it needed to control it), right around the time that European states required marriages be performed under legal auspices. Which is why we are where we are now.
Efforts to privatize marriage has brought together an odd lot of people, as Unmarried Equality‘s Sarah Wright notes — “from libertarians to feminists; liberals to conservatives; and academics to clerics. Yet what binds our common view is the notion that personal relationships are best defined by individuals themselves. Since we all engage in various contractual agreements everyday, the basic concept is hardly new.”
While some see privatizing marriage as involving more government interference, it’s pretty clear that those who celebrate blockchain marriages — even Reno is getting into the action — see it differently. And of course, there are now companies offering blockchain marital contracts — for a fee.
You don’t need to pay for a contract; The New I Do offers a sample contract but as author Mandy Len Catron discovered, you can take that contract and tweak it to fit who you and your partner, married or not, are — and then you can do with it what you will, placing it on the blockchain or not.
All that matters is that you and your partner have an agreement. But to get to the agreement, it means that you and your partner have had hard conversations that lead to matched expectations, and all the research I’ve done consistently indicates that couples who have matched expectations in their romantic partnerships have happier romantic partnerships. Makes sense to me.
Marriage’s next step
But, let’s get back to the idea of blockchain marriage. BitNation founder Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof says that’s the next step for marriage:
I actually think it has much more humanity than the conventional marriage contracts, within a church or a nations state for instance, because you can choose much more what fits you precisely and you can choose if you want to marry someone of the same gender, you can choose if you want to marry more than two people, if you want to have a polyamorous marriage for instance — many of these things that are illegal and manage your decisions for you around the world. So you can choose what code of law you want to follow. What do you prefer, civil law, common law or Sharia law or any other kind? You can choose how you prefer to resolve disputes, according to your own culture. The options are indefinite. And you can also tie it into a range of other contracts, like a childcare contract that you manage between all parties in the family unit. You can choose how you want to save, you can put a land title in the contract, manage all of those assets so it is actually much more humane in the sense that you can put whatever you want into it and you manage it in a much more flexible way, instead of having just a static, standard, one-size fits all, open-ended agreement.”
Still, as a blog post about BitNation’s Smart Love app suggests, there’s a long way to go:
Blockchain marriage contracts exist as islands of sort, disconnected from other contracts such as property titles, wills, birth certificates and child care agreements: all of which are essential features of conventional marriages. For this reason blockchain marriages are largely symbolic, so far.
I do think individualized marital contracts will be the next natural step for marriage. Making them be part of the blockchain? Sure, but if it’s just a symbolic contract — why? Isn’t going to give a couple access to the more than 1,100 federal government perks and protections a marriage license offers, and as same-sex couples know, that matters. Why not get a marriage license with an individualized marital plan, aka a prenup that goes beyond just financial and property matters?
Of course, it’s probably time that the government stop favoring people based on their romantic and sexual lives. Because, wouldn’t you still choose to be with your spouse regardless of those perks and protections?
Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com.