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.)