Why Should Government Regulate Marriage Anyhow?


Unless you've been living under a rock in recent days, you're well aware of the controversy in various states - ok, most of the United States - regarding homosexual marriage.  One side insists that marriage is a fundamental right not just for heterosexuals; the other asserts that marriage has always been a man and a woman.  I'm taking the third side.  Why is this an issue at all?  What business should the government have in regulating marriage?  Yes, this is the libertarian view.  (I'm a small-l libertarian - don't confuse me with the Libertarian party, with whom I have my share of disagreements, as I do with all the parties). 

1.  Marriage is NOWHERE mentioned in the Constitution.  Apparently the founding fathers didn't think it enough of an issue to make any mention of it, which makes me think they didn't see any need for the government to regulate it.

2.  Marriage is simple a voluntary agreement between two individuals (ok, from a religious standpoint it may be more than this but I'm speaking pragmatically here) which requires no government sanction or oversight.  I'm sure someone will respond to this by pointing out that there are issues of property, custody, inheritance, etc.  And I respond, so what?  We have contract law.  If I want to marry, my bride and I shouldn't have to purchase a marriage license from the state.  We should be able to go to the church, synagogue, mosque (or park, restaurant, firehall, whatever) of our choosing and solemnize our vows however we choose.  IF then we also wish to have our union affirmed in a "legal" manner, it would be simple enough to have a contract drawn and signed specifying whatever privileges and responsibilities we desire to denote.  (I suppose this would make divorces more easily obtained, but given that over half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce already, apparently they're easy enough to get - the ones who would really lose out under this scenario would be the divorce lawyers).  As for the question of who can marry, there are other laws in place to cover this.  For example, minors cannot voluntarily enter into contracts or other such agreements because they are underage, so the same protection would still be afforded them.

3.  Marriage is an unquestionably historic institution.  It has existed for who knows how many thousands of years, in all different cultures and civilizations, without any need for clarification from our elected legislatures.  It need not become a special issue now.

I could continue to list more arguments, but it sums up in one basic word - FREEDOM.  The government does not need to insert itself and interfere with freedoms possessed by the people.  I should be free to marry when I want without needing a document from the government (and writing to said government a check) granting me this privilege.


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