May 5, 2013
The Marriage Contract --
Marriage and Government Activism
This is a very conservative part of Florida and the rural sections of the county even more so. So, years ago, it wasn't a surprise to me when I was invited to an event out in the country that the people there were conservative in their politics. When a late middle-aged couple sat down at the picnic table and began talking to me about "activist judges" and the government interfering with marriage, they got the surprise of the day when I said to them with emphasis and great enthusiasm, "I agree. As long as it's consenting adults, it isn't any of the government's business what sex they are."
The reply I got to that statement was stunned silence. After all, what could they say? I'd just agreed with them.......though what I'd actually done was disagree with them by agreeing with them. Because the one thing I was sure of was that these people had never thought through their belief enough to realize that the government was already interfering with marriage ----- it was just interfering with it in a way they approved of. For people like this the talking points they hear on the news and radio go in their ears and then out their mouths without ever being analyzed by their brains..........if those talking points agree with their preconceived position. In this case the preconceived position was that marriage was between man and woman, specifically one man and one woman. That this position was the result of government interference, by activist judges enforcing that version of marriage, would never have crossed their minds. And I'm not egotistical enough to think what I said made that realization cross their minds. Instead they sat there in silence, then quickly left the table with their food ----- they didn't want to sit next to a crazy woman any longer.
What I said was actually the shortened version of what I believe and have believed for most of my life. That belief is....
As long as it's fully informed, freely consenting adults, it's none of the government's business what sex they are or how many of them they are.
And that means exactly what you think it means. In addition to homosexual marriage, I think that dreaded word, that word that horrifies all "right-thinking" people, even right-thinking gay people.........P-O-L-Y-G-A-M-Y is a legitimate form of marriage. In fact, I find the homosexuals who think homosexual marriage should be legal but think polygamy should still be illegal to be as biased as heterosexuals who believe heterosexual marriage should be legal but not homosexual marriage. Polygamy is a legitimate form of marriage practiced by many cultures and practiced for millennia. (Now my general support of polygamy as a form of marriage does not mean I support polygamy as the LDS cults practice it ---- those girls forced into marriage are not freely consenting adults.) If many Christians weren't such hypocrites, Christians who base their disapproval of homosexuality on the Bible ought to have a harder time doing that with polygamy as the Bible supports polygamy. (Though I'll make the point of what should your religious beliefs have to do with the law? You're free to practice your religion. You shouldn't be free to force other people to follow your religious beliefs.) But I'll go beyond polygamy, I think group marriage, even theoretical forms of marriage like line marriage, should be legal, and as long as everyone involved was a fully informed, freely consenting adult then it's none of the government's business who's in the marriage.
Because I ask you, aren't having government laws specifically regulating marriage already activism? It certainly is interference by the government in marriage. So today I'd say my beliefs go even further when it comes to government interference and marriage. Today my belief would be stated as.......
The government should get out of the marriage business. Marriage is a contract between private parties.
Today I question why the government should have any special laws about marriage. Marriage, as we've all heard over and over, is a contract. It's a legally binding contract between the parties that enter into the marriage. And there are already laws dealing with contracts. So government should get out of the marriage business altogether and just let marriage be handled under contract law.
Contract law varies state to state, but in general......
Under contract law:
As for religious marriage, that's a horse of a different color. If people want a religious marriage ceremony on top of a legal marriage contract, then, of course, the religion is free to enforce its own strictures for what constitutes a marriage. And, of course, no religion should be forced to perform a ceremony for any marriage that violates those strictures. (As someone who grew up a Roman Catholic, I'm quite comfortable with the concept that a marriage can be valid under the law but not valid within the church. Plenty of divorced people got legally married but couldn't get married in the Catholic church.) So religions are free to put whatever requirements they want onto their concept of marriage. But their concept of marriage has no force under the law.
But I don't see where government needs special laws just for marriage. As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't be. People who want to get married could draw up a contract for that marriage just like people draw up pre-nups (what else is a pre-nup but a marriage contract). They could specify conditions, length, dissolution, etc. And if they end up disputing over the contract, they could take it to court the same way people currently take disputed contracts to court. All of that could be handled under current contract law.......it doesn't require a special sub-set of laws for marriage.
What sex the involved parties are, how many of them there are..........not the government's business and certainly not my business. Does this mean that I'll approve of the subsequent marriages? Frequently not. But I don't approve of many of the one man - one woman marriages I see. There have been times I knew the marriage was going to be a disaster before it even happened; it's still not my business to stop the marriage. Other people marrying doesn't require my approval, and it doesn't require your approval. We need to get past the notion that society as a whole gets an approval stamp for someone else's marriage.
This isn't about approval. It's about keeping the government's nose and my nose and your nose out of other people's private business. It's about not legislating private, personal decisions and what decision is more private, more personal, than the decision of whom to marry?
For more about government interference in marriage and activist judges, read "Ingloriously A Bastard? Mississippi and Miscegenation." For more about religious people trying to use the law to force other people to follow their religious beliefs, read "Religion, Freedom and Homosexual Marriage in America: An Open Letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy." For more about unthinking attitudes and the unconscious assumptions they're based on, read "No One Eligible to Run for U.S. President According to Birthers." For more about excessive government interference in private lives, read "Dying from Terrorism Not Really a Danger -- Losing Freedoms Is a Real Danger."
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