first, let me preface this with some information about myself:
i’m a single never-wed heterosexual male who self-identifies as a classical liberal or libertarian. i voted for H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. i was raised Lutheran, and consider myself to be a Christian, even though i am infrequent in my church attendance. i consider myself to be culturally a “Southerner.” i listen to a lot of Rush Limbaugh and NPR.
i’m not a raving left-wing loony (though i know more than a few) or a right-wing Teatard (i know a few of those as well).
the same-sex marriage debate is raging in this country, and has been since at least 1970 (when James McConnell and Richard Baker applied for a marriage license in Minnesota). but recently, it’s reached a peak with the growth in legal recognition across New England.
this, of course, has social conservatives livid and liberals hopeful.
but nobody really seems to be considering what marriage is, and whether the government has any business in it at all.
we know that marriage – in one form or another – predates written history. there are any number of definitions of marriage, varying widely across cultures, allowing for near-infinite permutations of partners.
what seems common across all of them – including the traditional US definitions – is that a marriage establishes a legal familial relationship, with defined rights and obligations to the members of that family unit. therefore, marriage is essentially a contract between individuals. as a private contract, the state has no business in defining the terms of that contract unless it can prove harm to the community.
it is difficult to imagine how same-sex (or polygamous) marriages could logically be shown to harm the community at large; instead, we are confronted with moral arguments, based in almost entirely in religion.
which again makes one wonder what right the state has to interfere; if marriage is a religious ritual, then the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution would seem to apply. as a religious ritual, the state’s recognition of only one narrow definition of that ritual is de facto establishment.
which brings me to my point: the government, whether state or federal, has no real business defining marriage at all. if it is a purely contractual agreement, then the definition of that agreement is up to the parties involved. if it is a religious ritual, assuming it does not cause harm to innocents, it’s none of the government’s business.
naysayers have claimed that a failure to define marriage as being between a man and a woman will lead to mass insanity; persons marrying inanimate objects and animals. i would suggest that cats and toasters cannot enter into contracts, and a human wedding a turtle could be demonstrated to be harmful to that turtle’s well-being.
but between two men or two women? or three men and two women? or one woman and two men? or a woman and a man?
it’s none of the state’s business.
and it’s not the state’s business to force churches, mosques or synagogues to perform rituals they don’t adhere to, either. so if a church doesn’t want to perform a wedding ceremony for a couple, they shouldn’t have to. the state, however, cannot be so choosy. what is legal for one must be legal for all: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” not “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
quote of the day:
“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” – Abraham Lincoln, 27 February 1860