Time to Get Government Out of the Marriage Business
Marriage is, at bottom, a religious custom -- a place where government's writ must not run.
March 11, 2013 - 12:17 am
It’s just that their solution to this injustice is wrong. If one has identified a religious tenet written into law, the appropriate response isn’t to have the state alter it as it feels necessary. If you’re a libertarian and arguing for that, you need to turn in your libertarian badge (keep the gun, obviously). Having the state fiddle around with religious tenets is a controversial and dangerous action that will have no end. Is anyone really so naive as to think that gay marriage will be the last marriage-based controversy ever? No, there is only one course of action that will actually end this: Marriage and the state need a divorce.
Some may see that solution as cutting the baby in half, but it really just finally restores some sanity to the issue. The state has never been good for marriage, and gay marriage is not the first marriage-law controversy; there have long since been arguments involving things like divorce — arguments often very religious in nature, i.e., the exact sort of arguments you want the state to stay away from. As a Christian, I feel very strongly about the separation of church and state, not as a protection for the state — who cares about the state? — but as a protection for the church. If we can learn one thing from human history, it’s that anything government gets involved in becomes corrupted. And marriage is very important, so it’s something you want to keep the government far away from.
All the government should do is write up a suite of legal contracts between two consenting adults (or groups of consenting adults — let’s just head off that next controversy) that can be signed in front of a lawyer. If you want a religious ceremony and want to call it a marriage, that can be done before or after you sign the legal documents, but the ceremony itself will have no more direct legal consequences than, say, a Catholic confirmation ceremony. And everyone can continue to argue what is considered a proper marriage and what isn’t, but that debate will be moved to the best place for all contentious debates — to a place where it has no legal bearing on anyone.
So, to conservatives who want to preserve marriage, it’s time to stop moping around waiting for the inevitable day when the Supreme Court decides that the Founding Fathers hid gay marriage in the Constitution (probably in the Commerce Clause). It should be obvious by now that the status quo isn’t going to hold. What isn’t determined yet is where we’re headed, and it’s time we take charge and move things in a sensible direction. The right needs to propose the radical, new, progressive idea that the state should never have been involved in marriage in the first place.
And if you get only one thing from this column, it should be this: NoH8 people, stop taking pictures of yourselves with tape over your mouths. What in the world is that supposed to symbolize? Are you saying people are being silenced — that no one is speaking out about Prop 8 and gay marriage? If so, I don’t know what planet you live on. So stop it with the tape; it makes no sense.