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The Separation of Marriage and State

Government marriage?

Government marriage?

California’s vote in favor of Proposition 8 in November limited “marriage” to one man and one woman. Many who opposed this proposition were angry at certain demographics after its passing. Religious groups and blacks, who were overwhelmingly in favor of this initiative, received the brunt of the blame. However, they failed to look at who was the most to blame; the State of California.

Why is it the the state is in the business of marriage to begin with? Giving the government the authority to “marry” people only promotes limiting marriage. If one powerful group dislikes gay marriage, all they have to do to outlaw it is lobby their representative, or in this case, vote overwhelmingly as a block. However, if the government stayed out of the business of marriage and solely let religious/private organizations perform such functions, there would be less limitation. If you’re straight and your church performs marriages between a man and a woman, then get married there. If you’re gay and your church performs marriages for men or women, then so be it.

The only valid function the state government has in marriage is the civil union aspect between consenting adults. The state must uphold the legal contract made between the consenting parties. If Bob and Jim are married through their church, and have a civil union contract through the state, the state must protect that contract and enforce it if it is broken. If Bob dies, Jim will have a contract stating that Bob’s possessions are to be given to Jim; and vice-versa. If Emily is unconscious in the hospital and must receive medical care, Jane can authorize its use via their civil union contract with the state.

Penn Jillette said it best on Tuesday:

I’m totally against straight marriage — even though I’m married. I don’t think heterosexual marriage is any of the government’s business. I think you make any contract you want, you know, if you want to marry several women, several men, you want to marry another man, another woman, anything — make a contract, make a civil union and get the government out of the business of who we have sex with.”

This post was based on the Campaign for Liberty’s article, The Separation of Marriage and State.


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