Gay Marriage, and Government Licenses in General

The nice thing about libertarianism is that, unlike the Republican platform, it is consistent on the issue of political freedom and getting big government out of our personal lives. Even though I personally believe that marriage is only a God-sanctioned union between a man and a woman, it would be wrong for me to force my religion on others through political means, just like it would be wrong for me to force others to go to church, abstain from a promiscuous sexual lifestyle, give to the poor, abstain from prideful boasting, or obey God in general. These are choices that each individual must make on their own without being forced by anyone, including government. Although, I can use speech to try to persuade/convert others.

People should legally be able to voluntarily associate with each other in any way they wish (as long as they are not violating anyone’s rights) and that they can call those associations by whatever name they wish (such as “marriage”). The government shouldn’t be involved in any way. The government shouldn’t be able to define social interactions and give financial favoritism (tax subsidies, pension laws, etc.) to a type of association that it deems more worthy than others. The word “marriage” shouldn’t even show up in any law. If two gay people want to get married, I personally think that that marriage is illegitimate and sinful, but I also believe that they, and anyone, can still legally live their lives that way and call it “marriage” if they want to call it that.

We shouldn’t have a Word Police going around regulating definitions of words. Should dictionary writers have to get govt approval whenever they want to adjust meanings of words to reflect common usage? No. As a comparison, consider various relationships; each person’s relationship with Christ is even more important and sacred than the marriage relationship of two mortal people. Consider that both adults and children are much better off and spiritually and socially healthier if they have a proper relationship with Jesus (I’m imitating arguments used for regulating marriage). So, given the importance of this Christ-person relationship, should the govt then define what it means to be a Christian, what the word “salvation” means, and what it means to have a relationship with Christ? Should the govt issue “salvation certificates” to those it deems properly Christian, and then give such people special treatment and tax breaks? No, no, no, and no! If you agree that the govt should not regulate and define the Christ-person union, then you should be consistent and also agree that the govt should not regulate and define marriage. If govt should stay out of the Christ-person relationship, which is even more important than any person-person relationship, then it should also stay out of the person-person marriage relationship.

If I want to be officially married, why should I have to go to the state? If you think marriage should be done in public, it can still be a “public” declaration in front of your community without having to go to the govt. If you are a Christian, be satisfied with your church’s custom of making a marriage official. There shouldn’t be any marriage licenses in existence issued by the government. If your church or other group decides to issue “licenses” or certificates, that’s your business. Let marriage mean to you what it means to you (and/or your God). And, any issue that SEEMS to require an official state marriage license can actually be handled through voluntary contracts between parties, such as employer and employee pension terms. If you think that you need a legally binding contract on certain issues (like prenuptial agreements, or how your property will be transferred in case of death), then you can still make those contracts with whomever you choose. That doesn’t require a state to license marriages. Maybe you’re afraid that, without state licenses, you won’t be able to verify if a couple is “truly married”. My response is: you have no right to use force in order to know the legitimacy of someone else’s marriage in the first place. There may be a time when you are in the grocery line and a couple next to you happens to mention that they are married, and you might get upset and think to yourself, “But, are they “really” married according to my standards?” You’ll just have to live with the fact that you may not be able to satisfy your nosy desires.

I’ll even take it to the ridiculous extreme, because I’m confident in my consistency on freedom. If a man wishes to be with several women (polygamy), and he and the women voluntarily enter into such a relationship, and they want to call it “marriage”, then let them think that they are married, and let them call it that when they speak with their friends. Even if a deranged lunatic wants to be in a serious relationship with a chair, or any inanimate object, and call it marriage, let him have his weird ceremony in his living room, probably conducted with an imaginary priest, and think that he is married; as it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket. (side note: do not misconstrue this as an analogy of gay people to inanimate objects, as they are full human beings and loved by God.) I personally wouldn’t recognize that as a true marriage, but it’s not my business. Even though I know that it is immoral behavior, I shouldn’t be able to outlaw such a thing. Let sin be legal, as long as no one’s rights are being violated. For example, theft and murder should stay illegal because those are rights violations, but gossip, pornography, and thinking hateful thoughts should remain legal, although they’re still sinful. We should deregulate marriage.

(For those who wonder about the practicality of my proposals as it pertains to the tax code or who gets property upon the death of a spouse, see below in the comments section for a copy-pasted conversation I had elsewhere online.)

One thought on “Gay Marriage, and Government Licenses in General

  1. Here is a conversation I had elsewhere online on this topic. I’m just pasting it here for those who have similar questions and concerns as Dillon:

    Dillon: “Lol, very clever. It’s kind of a pipe dream, though. Plus we’d have to go back to the dark ages when married people had to file taxes separately, assets weren’t automatically transferred upon death, or weren’t able to visit your spouse in a hospital after hours. MASS HYSTERIA! (I’m half joking.)

    As ridiculous as it is to have government define marriage, I suppose it started that way with good intentions. The law will protect you if your spouse abruptly leaves or tries to start another marriage, for example.”

    Tom: “Dan, please read my short post on this subject below. There is no reason that the govt should define marriage or give out certificates. You are simply accustomed to the system you grew up in, so a different system would seem strange to you. However, if we step back and look objectively, why should married people get to file taxes jointly and no one else? What’s the point of joint filing, but a way for govt to give special tax breaks to those who are married? And, why should the govt give out special privileges (tax breaks) to those who are married and not others? If you see complications with tax law, this is because the tax code is wrong and messed up, and should be changed; it does not justify regulating marriage. A just tax code would involve each person simply paying a certain percentage of their income, whether or not they have a special type of bond with another person. Also, you bring up asset transfers after death of a spouse. This also does not require the govt to define marriage or regulate it. If two people wish to enter into some kind of relationship and call it “marriage” according to their belief system, let them do that and decide what should happen to their property upon death through a simple will. A “will” will easily solve your dilemma, or any evident verifiable declaration of what a person wishes to have happen to their property upon death. Private contracts can easily replace any function that marriage law previously covered.”

    “…….and you say that you “suppose that it (marriage regulation) started that way with good intentions”. The reason why it started at all is that, in ancient times, the government and a religion were usually one in the same, and this practice simply carried over despite other trends in the separation of church and state. It’s about time we continue this process and get govt out of marriage too. Also, you said that the idea of getting govt out of marriage is a pipe dream, but the same was once said about gay marriage, and religious freedom in general.”

    Dillon: “I think that post is my new favorite of yours. That living room ceremony, haha. You make great points. But I think we agree that having a contract before getting married is a good idea, having a will is a good idea, and simplifying taxes is (maybe?) a good idea. Marriage combines all those things and more together to make it simpler. If we separate all that, it would be very unlikely that anyone would bother getting a contract together before getting married. It’s just not very romantic.

    So, if we removed all of that, we’d effectively be removing protections and “shortcuts” for married couples. Would that be worth it to get the government out of our love lives? Maybe. But it’s no small task.

    Maybe marriages could be separate from, say, government issued civil unions? So those protections and shortcuts could still exist? Then a couple could start a marriage and a civil union at the same time. I dunno. Government isn’t always bad I swear.”

    Tom: “Thanks for the kind words, but now I will argue against you some more. You said that govt-in-charge marriage makes things simpler. Well, I guess in a few small cases, yes, like not having to have a will. But, other than that, govt meddling has made everything much more complicated; just witness the last decades of marriage rights battles, and there’s more to come when polygamy will soon be debated. Life would be a lot easier if govt just got out of marriage altogether. Second, you complain that many people may not get a contract will when they enter into what they call a “marriage”. That’s no big deal. This brings up other areas of law such as generally what happens to one’s property upon death. After all, many people never marry and die without wills, so what happens to their property? The fairest thing is to have a set of rules that allots property according to who’s closest to you in various ways. This is what’s already done, the details depending on state law. If there’s no will, there’s an order to recipients, such as spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. The first one, spouse, can be modified once govt’s licensing role is abolished. For instance, instead of “spouse”, the law can say property will go to whoever is closest in relationship, or a living partner. If there’s issue about who exactly this is, there can be lawyers and witnesses involved to resolve that. If this first choice doesn’t produce a recipient, then the property can go to children or parents, or whatever. You can sort out those details to be most rational as you like, I haven’t attempted to sort them out.

    Bottom line is, people should have some personal responsibility too. If you die and your property doesn’t go to the person you love most, well, that’s your fault. Because of this small problem, should we have govt regulate marriage and give special treatment? No. And, here’s one last point about death wills. Just to completely satisfy your concern, we can instead have a system where the govt routinely (maybe every 5 yrs) asks each person to specify their will. This way, the person doesn’t have to remember to get a will; the govt will instead initiate the asking. The point is, there are so many other ways of addressing your concerns without all the headache of having govt involved in defining and regulating love life and handing out special privileges to relationships it deems worthy. As for you idea of “civil unions”, this may be a small improvement, but doesn’t address the main concerns. Once the govt regulates and defines who can have civil unions, and gives out unfair privileges to those who have civil unions, you’re back to square one, but just with a different word.”

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