The issue of gay marriage is framed as a yes or no proposition. But I question why. The answer is that we have ceded to government the role of defining this social relationship. It was not always so. Marriage was once the sole province of the individuals involved or the church. The French Revolution and the German chancellor Bismarck are cited as key influences in the transition of marriage to government regulation; hardly worthy lineage, in my opinion. We would not have this issue if the state was not involved; my none of the above solution. What I resent about the gay marriage movement is the attempt to use the force of government to impose on me a definition of marriage with which I disagree. If the definition is not up to the government, we are free to come to consensus as a society with freedom to disagree. This is the foundation of intellectual pluralism, about which I might blog some other day.
This begs some serious questions about what would society look like without government sanctioned marriage.
- What about income taxes, how will we determine who is in a household? Whoever self declares to be part of the household. Why not? Why don't we abolish income taxes?
- What about divorce? If there is not marriage, what happens when people split up? Ultimately, marriage is a civil contract. We will have to establish a body of contract law for various forms of civil unions. Perhaps, some protections for children need to be established. Certainly the concept of guardianship might still require state sanction, but that is separate from marriage. I think the bigger problem is that we will have common law situations, with no contract at all. But isn't "palimony" an old issue for the courts?
- What about incest, like brothers and sisters marrying? Isn't there compelling state interest to prevent such relationships? My answer is that it is not compelling enough. Government doesn't need to solve every problem. Is this a big rampant problem? Not to my knowledge.
- What about polygamy? My answer is that individuals should be allowed to make this choice for themselves. I don't think it is a successful social model, so it isn't going to catch on.
This doesn't solve every societal problem with regards to marriage, none are. Better to leave these questions to be resolved by citizens and our chosen institutions outside of government control.