President Obama and presumed GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney have both made public statements about marriage recently. Obama claims that his views have evolved over the years and told ABC News, “At a certain point, I’ve just concluded, that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Obama explained he was stating his personal opinion and supports the right of the states to make their own decisions. Romney reiterated his stance that marriage is between one man and one woman. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney said, “I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.”
Romney’s position may be consistent, however it is not historically accurate. Until recently, consensual polygamy was a fairly common and accepted practice, and is still common in some parts of the world. Which meant that marriage could be a man and multiple women, a woman and multiple men or multiple men and multiple women. Additionally, Romney’s position – and to a certain extent Obama’s position – implies that governments have been involved in marriage for nearly 3,000 years. This is not true. Daniel Waechter of PrivatizeMarriage.org writes, “marriage licenses have only existed on any significant scale since 1929. No one in the US before that was required to have a marriage license in order to practice their fundamental right to marry.”
Historically marriage has been handled by churches, not government. Jesse Kline of the National Post writes, “the central question… is whether the state should be dictating the domestic arrangements of consenting adults.”
Getting government out of the business of issuing – and in most case “requiring”– a marriage license will be a challenge because government doesn’t like giving up power it has, nor does government like losing revenue sources once obtained. Providing marriage licenses is big business for the state. On average, 2.3 million couples are married per year in the United States, with the average marriage license costing $33.74; that provides a steady stream of income (roughly $77.6 million) for those who want control over your life.
People have become too accepting of government licensing and regulation. If you don’t want government regulating who you can share Thanksgiving dinner with, if/where you attend church or who you can date; why then are you willing to accept regulations on your committed relationships?