This week the media, traditional and new, have been bursting with conversations about the Supreme Court of the United States taking on both California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, both of which attempt to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
I wish to offer a libertarian proposal on the best trade-off possible to bring this situation to an expedient close. Not surprisingly, my remedy is to get the government out of the marriage business entirely.
The idea is simple, let the term marriage be defined by religious (or non-religious) institutions in the manner that best serves their beliefs. If two men wish to marry and your religion or belief system allows it, great. If five men and three women wish to marry and your religion or belief system allows it, great!
The term civil union should be adopted by governments to describe the contract between two people which confers certain rights with regard to child rearing, property ownership, and end-of-life issues. (There may be others as well, but I am not a lawyer. So be it, add them on.)
Let me be clear, as the POTUS, is fond of saying. I do not think that only gay and lesbian couples should be subject to this civil union, I am saying that it will apply to all. From the perspective of the state it is a special kind of contract in that only two people can enter into it and any one time.
This idea is not without precedent. As R. Lee Wrights, a great Texan and Libertarian candidate for President in 2012 said during the LP Presidential debate in Fort Worth last year, “George and Martha Washington did not have a marriage license.” Here, here!
In fact, it was inconceivable to them that one should even obtain permission from the government to get married.
I am sure many libertarians would say to me that we just need to eliminate the idea of government approved unions. While, in principle, I agree with this statement, we must acknowledge that undoing all of the law with regard to these unions will take years, if not decades.
Therefore, we must support something that achieves the goal of separating church and state and allows more freedom. This proposal does just that. It would allow maximum freedom for people to define marriage in any way they like.
I hope you say, “I do!”