At some point in your life you asked the government’s permission for something you should never need approval for in the first place. Though you have a right protected by the Constitution, you swallowed your pride, took your marching orders and got in lock step with the government. Don’t be embarrassed, you’re not alone.
Today the government has its hand in every taxpayer’s pocket. From starting a business to building a house, to going fishing with a family member, people obtain licenses for almost everything. The idea of government “licensing” us has become so commonplace most fail to give it a second thought. It is not pertaining to fishing or starting a business that the most curious aspect of licensing arises however. Instead it is the practice which the vast majority of Americans take part in at some point in their lives, the institution of marriage.
The idea of submitting yourself to your spouse, pledging your faithfulness and planning for a future together is about as old a custom as exists today. And yet curiously so many individuals have never considered the implications behind granting the state jurisdiction over their marriage. Without a hunting license you are not permitted to legally hunt. Without a fishing license you may not go fishing. And without a driver’s license you cannot legally drive a car. Should it then seem that foreign the same logic applies to a license declaring marriage? What if you applied for a marriage license, and the government said, “No”?
“Marriage is a legal as well as a spiritual and personal relationship. When you state your marriage vows, you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that legal contract:
2) your spouse;
3) the state
Only marriage gets that treatment, and it’s a tradition that some legal scholars have been arguing should be abandoned. In a paper published March 2 in the San Francisco Chronicle, two law professors from Pepperdine University issued a call to re-examine the role the government plays in marriage. The authors — one of whom voted for and one against Proposition 8, which ended gay marriage in California — say the best way out of the intractable legal wars over gay marriage is to take marriage out of the hands of the government altogether.
For people who feel the word marriage is important, the next stop after the courthouse could be the church, where they could bless their union with all the religious ceremony they wanted. Religions would lose nothing of their role in sanctioning the kinds of unions that they find in keeping with their tenets. And for nonbelievers and those who find the word marriage less important, the civil-union license issued by the state would be all they needed to unlock the benefits reserved in most states and in federal law for married couples.
“While new terminology for all may at first seem awkward — mostly in greeting-card shops — [it] dovetails with the court’s important responsibility to reaffirm the unfettered freedom of all faiths to extend the nomenclature of marriage as their traditions allow,” wrote Douglas W. Kmiec and Shelley Ross Saxer. Kmiec voted for Prop 8 because of his belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church and his notion of religious liberty but has since said he thinks the courts should not allow one group of Californians to marry while denying the privilege to others.
Having the state no longer call them married may make them feel as if something important had been taken away — even if it’s hard to define just what was lost. And for many others — the folks who feel most strongly about marriage and most passionately supported the expensive campaign to defeat gay marriage — the issue of nomenclature is only the beginning. They are against not just gay marriage but also gay couples — and especially against government sanctioning of those relationships, no matter what they are called.
Some believe marriage is a God given right, some a natural born right, and others a personal liberty that exists outside of religion and morality. Yet many submit to an entity that should have no authority to determine the details of their family. When urged to forgo a marriage license, the response received is often one of half-hearted protest. Many cite tax benefits; others do not want to deal with the hassle, and some still believe the worst-case scenario is grossly exaggerated. When asked what they would do if they sought the government’s approval to get married and were denied, the response is often a variation of, “that could never happen.”
Within the past month however an intriguing story splashed across the news wire. A small town in Louisiana gained a great deal of media coverage due to a man and woman who had asked the government for permission to get married and were told, “No.” The man and woman, of different racial backgrounds were refused a marriage license by their local justice of the peace. The justice stated he had no feelings of discrimination or resentment, rather personal aversion to granting a marriage license to a couple whose children he felt would face difficulties down the road.
While a fair amount of disdain came against the justice and he has since resigned, his logic and motives for denying the marriage are not important or especially relevant to the story. What is relevant is that government has gotten into the business of deciding who should be allowed to marry and who should not. As the state has ordained itself with this power, the people have meekly submitted themselves in hopes of attaining its seal of approval.
“By the power vested in me by the state of __________, I now pronounce you controlled.”
If you would like to support the end of the government sanctioning or defining marriage please post these on your social networks in support.