Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marriage, the Government, and Liberty

As an advocate for traditional marriage, I often ponder my role in the marriage debate. In fact, I find myself considering anyone's role in the marriage "debate". And time and again I find myself coming to the same conclusion: It's the constitution!

The Establishment Clause of the 1st amendment to the United States Constitution clearly states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof".

Marriage has always been a religious or spiritual bonding of two people together. Under the guise of being in the best interest of the general social welfare, US states began issuing marriage licenses. The purpose was to protect spouses from STDs (which is why some states still require blood tests), to keep accurate historical records, and to provide the couple to be married ample tome to consider the bond which they are making (with divorce rates upwards of 50%, I think this last one has lost meaning!). So with good intent, the states had intervened and begun regulating marriage.

Enter the federal government. Tax code, all 60,000+ pages of it, mention marriage. Since the states had found a way to regulate marriage as a non-religious and purely record keeping process at the state level, the US government took clear advantage. This was the key to skirting the Establishment Clause. The US government regards marriage as little more than a business contract, and as such has made tax laws regarding this business matter.

C'mon... we all know we got married for the tax benefits, right! And that is why we will have kids too... another deduction, yeah!

Instead, what has happened is the systematic undoing of the most sacred and spiritual bond that two people can make to one another. And this state regulation of religion into some form of a business matter has allowed the federal government to not only make laws respecting an historically religious event, but now there is talk of a marriage amendment to the constitution.

Please allow me to apply the brakes gently for a moment.

The very people who are fighting to "save marriage" are playing into the hands of those have destroyed it's original intent... and the original intent of the constitution for that matter!

To use the constitution to define marriage is to acknowledge that marriage is not a religious or spiritual bond. If you believe it to be, then the 1st amendment would not allow such an amendment to exist... unless, of course, you intend the Constitution to regulate our religion in this nation. And again, as with the 18th amendment, the constitution would be used to limit liberties.

If marriage is as sacred as those fighting to protect it believe it to be, they should start by fighting the tax codes/laws respecting this religious bond. They should fight a legal battle challenging the US government's laws regarding this religious right. They should further fight the state's regulation of marriage, and limit the state's role from "granting marriage licenses" to "recording marriage for historical accuracies". The efforts of the defenders of marriage are doing little more than attempting to establish a religious rule in the Constitution, and is doomed to failure under a truly free society.

The constitution is a means to say the government cannot impose themselves on us in these manners, and should warily be used to say we want the government to impose themselves upon it's people in these other manners. It is a document who's intent is to limit government, not create cause for increase and regulation of our lives BY government.

It is well known that the right thing is often the hardest thing. For those fighting for a marriage amendment to the US Constitution, look into your hearts and find why this is right. Are we a society that limits the liberty of our fellow citizens, and do we want to be a society where the government is allowed to regulate our religions? When you answer these questions, you will find the answer... and it is not in a liberty limiting amendment.


  1. And where is Governor Huckabee on this issue? I know you're not a single-issue voter, but I had to ask. Both Huck and Romney have missed the point on this and have pandered. At least Fred took a strong federalist position on the marriage issue.

    Anyway, enough of the hard time. Thanks for posting what is much closer to the true libertarian position on marriage than the common claims. I'm not sure I agree with all your conclusions, but you have certainly thought the issue out much better than we see in most political discourse these days.

  2. Ben - Huckabee wants a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. I think Romney said he did as well. I have laid out the problems with this in the post, so we don't need to go into it... and yes, I am not a single issue voter, and I have said on a number of occasions that I do not support 100% of Huckabee's issues. I support his character, and his strong conservative record... and I believe that he has the ability to unite the country based on what I have learned of him.

    My argument needs a little work, but it is an early cut at the libertarian approach, as you said. Too often we are ready to head into these battles over issues, when in fact we forget the intent of a truly free nation, and the intent of the constitution. Too often, as well, we see points A and Z, but we forget the points in between which have led us to where we are today. It is often those points that are broken, and thsoe points that need to be corrected.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. I blogged about this same subject, I then realized my argument incomplete, this is perfect. I will be sharing this with everyone I know. Thank you!