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28 November 2008 @ 07:45 pm
I know it's rhetorical, but:  
Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective

via DreamCafé
guppiecatguppiecat on November 29th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
VERY nice. Thank you for posting that.
Janet Miles, CAP-OM: Marriagejanetmiles on November 29th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank Kit from DreamCafé, but yeah, I thought it was cool.
Stephen Harrissweh on November 29th, 2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Not particularly interesting, really. Cases 1 through 7 are trivial straw-men arguments. In 20+ years I've never seen a database where men and women are stored in separate tables. It's highly inefficient for most cases (schema duplication requirements, "unions" needed for most common select statements). Case 8 makes an interesting point; "other" is required in the spec. 9 and 10 are actually irrelevant to "gay marriage", and are more a question of sexuality, but they do lead to point 12. Which is closest to any schema I've seen. Points 13 onwards are, once again, irrelevant to "gay marriage" in that they deal with polygamy.

So what do we have? We have a seemingly sensible statement; yes, gay marriage may require some database schemas to be reviewed. Sounds perfectly sensible. But we have a lack of supporting logic for that position, the logic consisting of straw men so dry that they'll go up in flames spontaneously. Which is a shame, because I'd be interested in seeing a good treatment of the issue.
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on November 29th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
I'm not sure the early examples are strawmen -- perhaps from the POV of database engineering, they are, but from the POV of using database engineering as a metaphor for understanding social constructs, they're useful.
n5red on November 29th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Makes sense. After all, the last change in Daylight Savings Time cost huge amounts of money to update all the computer systems.
Fat Fred the Otter and Skippy: iotterfatfred on November 29th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)

That is a very different way of looking at it!
gh4acws on November 29th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
bureaucracy and paper forms
are a consideration.

In my ( het ) marriage (1985 to 1995 ) we did nearly everything the reverse way : I changed my name to a hyphenated version ( argh! never again* ) and I stayed at home and cleaned ( badly) ironed ( slowly ) and cooked ( getting better and better, while my wife went out and earned money. ( and at the separation/divorce I did get alimony for some time )

However the tax form for joint filing provided spaces only for "head of the household" and "wife" with only the latter one with a field for "Birthname"
So now I had to either claim to be "head of the household" and have no field to enter my birthname or claim to be4 wife ( In German with gendered nouns implying being female ). Either way was entering "false and misleading information" into the taxform.

Taking the male partners name is a STRONG standard in Germany : so strong that for people with a hyphenated name the assumption is they MUST be female ( the bright red heads of several receptionists were FUN! to watch ).
The law used to require the woman to take the name of her husband ( with special permit needed for exemptions : princess marries commoner, female heir to the business empire marries non-entity : this also markled the minority of men with changed names as nonentity-eunuchs ). Hyphenated names are discouraged and apply only to one of the partners ( since the 1980s to wife XOR wife ) and not to the children. Only since the late 80s was the concept of both partners keeping their name allowed.

In German with its gendered nouns this is also reflected in language changes: "birthname for women is "Mädchenname" literally 'maiden-name' ( and since the maiden id neutral so is the derived noun) - after it became possible for greater numbers of men to have a birthname differing from their current name the forms changed to "Geburtsname" ( birthname, properly neutral ).
and the societal expectations are STILL that the woman changes her name. Comedians get a (cheap) laugh by slowly reciting the distinctive double names of certain female politicians. [ much as "Mrs Clinton-Soucour" would work].
I bet there are still paper-forms around that do not fit.

*: having a hyphenated name does not double the chance of being misspelled: it quadruples. ( strictly : expands with the exponent of the number of names ) And those long names often don't fit the formspace. These days I am less attached to my birthname: I am me whatever label people give me : I want the label to be consistent so that I have less work and so that databases are easy to change, but that's it.
gh4acws on November 29th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
I was not implying
that one should RESPECT silly traditions. People who do bad design ( like those tax forms ) should be mocked loudly and publicly. ( And I admit having fun with that if I can. )
une idee fixeideealisme on November 29th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
In my last job the boss designed the marriage link schema and he didn't do too badly. There was a MarriedToBorrowerID on the Borrower table (which sometimes ended up being NULL, which meant I had to go on and fix it) so in theory two borrowers of any gender could be linked together.

However the query which populated the dropdown for titles didn't cater for gay marriage - though I have no doubt my boss would have included it in the query were it a legal entity in Ireland!