Gay Marriage? No, but …

The wait is over.  Our Dear Leader uttered this pronouncement recently.  Biden probably forced the issue when he opened his big mouth a short time before.

At a certain point,” Mr. Obama said in an interview in the Cabinet Room at the White House with ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

This on the heels of the previous day’s overwhelming vote in North Carolina that not only bans gay marriage but also civil unions.  If there’s one thing BO’s opinion is not, it’s for him personally.  His attempt to tiptoe past the issue will rouse the opposition in November.  The Romney camp must be licking their chops.

So, should gay marriage be allowed or not?  I find gay “marriage” troubling.  I believe marriage plays a fundamental role in human society that does not entirely translate to other unions.  But rather than argue my position I want to suggest that, as often happens in public discourse, we are presented with a false alternative: that gay marriage must be legal or illegal.

A cornerstone of libertarian social philosophy is the sanctity of contracts.  No one may interfere with agreements entered into voluntarily by competent adults.  A marriage is a ceremony in which a couple publicly declares their intention to enter a permanent relationship that is exclusive in many respects.  They may choose to have a clergyman bless their union or not, but there is always an invisible and uninvited party at the altar: the state.  Numerous laws dictate the form marriages may take with respect to divorce, property ownership, and taxation among other things.  This is wrong.  It is not the province of the state to restrict the content of voluntary contracts made by consenting adults.

I’m surprised opponents of gay marriage haven’t framed the debate as a slippery slope.  What’s next, they might ask, three-way marriage? In fact, there is no legitimate reason to outlaw such unions.  If allowed, they would be tested in the marketplace of ideas, and the experiences of people who entered informal threesomes and foursomes in the 1970’s suggests that only rarely would they succeed.

What about time-limited marriages?  Not “till death do us part” but a ten-year agreement, for example?  Again, no reason why they should be outlawed.

How then should we respond, those of us who are repelled by gay marriage? It is not a major issue for me.  If a man introduced someone to me as his husband, I might just say, “yeah, right” and leave it at that. For those who are passionate opponents, there is a long list of non-coercive actions that are possible – speaking out, blogging, boycotting, shunning.  A majority of Americans, a declining majority to be sure, would probably share my sentiment.  But that doesn’t mean we get to forcibly deny the rights of gay couples or threesomes to contract with each other.

What might we expect if the state were to cease its interference in marriage?  Brand names would arise for various forms of marriage.  For example, “Catholic marriage” would be a lifetime commitment that excluded divorce, with the brand perhaps identified by a logo.  “Open marriage” would signify that extramarital sexual affairs were permitted.  “Islamic marriage” might require the woman to wear a veil in public.  Once established, these brand names could not be misused by those who did not practice their tenets.

Couples could make financial arrangements that best suit them.  As it stands, the state decides for everyone by such things as community property laws and inheritance rules.

Married couples pay different tax rates under the income tax code.  Some couples pay a “marriage penalty” meaning they pay more tax than the total they would pay if filing as singles.  For other couples it’s the other way around.  Is this fair?  No, but as I have argued on this blog, there is no such thing as fair tax.  Repeal of the income tax is the best answer, or short of that, ever lower rates will lessen the impact of the disparities.

8 thoughts on “Gay Marriage? No, but …

  1. One of the best reasoned subjects of a contentious issue that I have read or listened to. It helps that I found myself agreeing with your post. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This is libertarianism at its finest. I’m actually a big fan of gay marriage myself, but I think Dr. Gibson’s point about taxes is equally important here.

    Does anybody know if there would even be a push for gay marriage if the tax laws of the US were simpler (or, better yet, non-existent)? Perhaps, but I think taxes play much a much more important role in the gay marriage debate than we realize.

  3. I have to admit, you did make some points that I have never thought of. Having different kinds of marriages might actually be a good idea for a completely free and open society.

    You mentioned “Islamic marriages” – wouldn’t Islamic marriages also include multiple wives as would be the case if we were to actually allow “Islamic marriages”.

    What about Hindu marriages? Now in past history, Hindu wives were required to climb up on the funeral pyres of their dead husbands. That practice is no longer allowed in India but wouldn’t it be more like true liberty to allow those who wish to practice that type of marriage here in our new “Libertarian” country?

    Thing is about gay marriage; there is no evidence that gay marriage would affect other people’s lives or marriages. The very idea that same-sex marriages would destroy the traditional family is ridiculous and completely unfounded. What one family’s principles and moral standings are has nothing to do with another’s.

    Different kinds of marriage should be allowed as long as it harms no one, including those who’re in it or out of it. We obviously are not going to allow forced marriages as allowed in some Third World countries as that would have to do with allowing someone to take away the rights of another.

    As long as the marriage is an agreement between two adults who have complete function of their faculities then it really shouldnt’ be anyone’s business but those two adults.

    It’s a totally different subject when it comes to providing special tax cuts or penalties for marriages.

    Religion can be a part of someone’s marriage or it can also be nothing to do with religion. Obviously, we don’t restrict marriage to atheist and we certainly don’t expect them to have religious weddings so what’s the problem with gays having whatever kind of marriage they care to have? My belief system allows for gay marriage though I respect others rights to not allow gay marriage in their belief system; I certainly don’t think a heterosexual should be forced to marry someone of their own sex or even go to a same-sex wedding if they don’t want to. But, with the same token, I shouldn’t be forced to only be able to marry someone of the opposite sex if I’m gay. I should be able to marry whoever I love or just want to be married to, just like heterosexuals do. It’s all about true liberty and nothing more.

  4. Marriage arose in society as an ethical structure for mating, insuring that someone was responsible for the children and, historically, the dependent spouse. That’s why it always assumed an opposite-sex couple.

    But marriage is also a pledge of sexual fidelity, emotional support, and sharing a home. These are the same for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. And people in such similar situations should not be treated so differently.

    Homosexuality may be viewed as a handicap, something that prevents or impairs a person from doing what other people are normally able to do, like seeing , hearing, walking, or mating.

    A caring community normally supports individuals with handicaps. We reject prejudices that some people may have about them. We admonish our children to not make fun of someone who is different from themselves. And, to the degree possible, we accommodate that person’s special needs. Allowing same-sex couples to be treated as other couples would be a reasonable accommodation.

  5. Same-sex marriage is an absurd issue to debate. Marriage, according to the Dictionary, is referred to as an interpersonal union. People can say that marriage is between a man and a woman, however, there is a reference to same-sex marriage. Religious bigots should not be able to hold gay people hostage in the debate by infringing on their rights just to make religious bigots comfortable.

Please keep it civil

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