Freedom: A third position on marriage

Texas Governor Rick Perry — who we believe may be preparing to enter the GOP Presidential race — has recently come out on two sides of the same issue. ABCNews reports, “Last week in Aspen, Colo., Rick Perry said he supported New York’s decision to allow gay marriage because it is a states’ rights issue, saying ‘that’s fine with me.'”

Just days later the Texas Governor said, “I am for the federal marriage amendment.” I’m not sure how one supports a federal amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman while simultaneously supporting the rights of each of the 50 states of the USA to define marriage as they see fit. (ed- Mr. Perry is too polite to call this a flip-flop, but yeah.)

Pursuit of Happiness author Gordon Anderson, writes, “The very groups promoting a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman should realize that this would put the government, not God, in charge of marriage. It would undermine the separation of church and state, be a totalitarian law, and desacralize marriage.”

So far, the only position of the issue that Rick Perry has not taken is that marriage is not an issue to be decided by any government.

The position that government should not be involved in marriage is shared by libertarians, traditionalists, constitutionalists and Christians who believe that “marriage was instituted by God.” Daniel Waechter of 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.”

Getting government out of the business of issuing (and in some case requiring) a marriage license is that government doesn’t like giving up power it has, nor does government like losing revenue sources once obtained. Issuing 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).

People have become too accepting of government licensing and regulation. No one accepts the government regulating who you can share Thanksgiving dinner with, if/where you attend church or who you can date; why be willing to accept regulations on your committed relationships?

  1. This is the #1 reason I do not get married: I do not enter into contracts with people I don’t like (the government bureaucrats at city hall) especially when I am suspending my freedoms in the process. I’ve known and like plenty of priests though, but somehow the contract/oath/vow/marriage is no longer really in their jurisdiction, is it?

    This is an incredibly informative article Darryl. I will do my best to emulate your example.

  2. It’s easy to say that government should stay out of marriage. Granted, it’s legal in all 50 states for someone to marry someone of the same gender. It’s just not legal to sign the piece of government paper in most of them.

    Here’s the thing, tho – the marriage license bestows (and backs up with the law) 1138 rights and privileges, including making emergency medical decisions for their partners, receiving government benefits like social security and government pensions, sponsoring their partners for immigration, hospital visitation, passing on property to surviving partners, custody of children being maintained by the surviving partner, and that’s just the tip of the iceburg.

    Like I said earlier, the law backs up the marriage license. Without it, the rights straight couples enjoy can be challenged and taken away from gay couples. Gay couples have, for instance, had children taken away by vindictive family members, or have not been able to claim inheritance from their deceased partners (also by said family members).

    I’m sure a lot of Libertarians get a good feeling  by shouting the sentiment that government should just “get out of the marriage business,” but I have yet to see one provide an alternative that protects the rights of people who exchange those vows. Personally, I agree with the sentiment, but I’d love to see an alternative.

    If there is one, feel free to post it. I’d love to let other gays (and poly families, too) know so they can be protected.

    1. >I’m sure a lot of Libertarians get a good feeling  by shouting the
      sentiment that government should just “get out of the marriage

      You are over-simplifying this sentiment. Government should have no business defining the SPECIFIC and, hence, narrow version of marriage provided by our autocratic and naturally-dominating brothers and sisters in the various religions. It can, however, assist in legal details that can be applied to practically any adult-to-adult marital arrangement, which includes multiple partners (polyamory, for example) and gay marriage.

      1. I don’t believe I’m over-simplifying it. A lot of Libertarians I talk to think that government has no business in marriage at all. Throw out the whole thing, they say.

        I agree with you that the specifics shouldn’t be defined by government, especially as I believe that legalities should be accessible to all. Either everybody can do it, or throw it out.

        What I would like to see is a private, as opposed to government, contract that can be used to gain the 1138 marriage rights without having to bring the government into it. It could be a standard contract with room to add in additional conditions (similar to, say, a rental lease for an apartment). I bet it’s possible. And then we’d be able to put that money into the pockets of private attorneys instead of the government coffers.