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Opening Arguments

So long to all that

Oklahoma State Rep. Mike Turner:

 Well, if the courts won't let our state define marriage the way we want to, screw it; we'll just get out of the marriage business.

OKLAHOMA CITY - State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma.

The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it's an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it's what Oklahomans want.

"[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all," Turner said.

Other conservative lawmakers feel the same way, according to Turner.

"Would it be realistic for the State of Oklahoma to say, ‘We're not going to do marriage period,'" asked News 9's Michael Konopasek.

"That would definitely be a realistic opportunity, and it's something that would be part of the discussion," Turner answered.

This report is by a TV station, so I guess we can excuse the exaggeration. He isn't proposing the state "outlaw" anything. Just because the state stops defining marriage, that doesn't make it illegal. It will just then become a private matter that the state takes no interest it. One of my gay acquaintances has been saying for years that this is the way to go, pointing out that in the case of marriage we tolerate a government-religion intertwinement we just would not accept in any other circumstance. It's interesting to see it advanced as a conservative's proposal.

How would this new government-absent marriage work?

Instead of providing certification for a particular cohabitation arrangement, the state would remain neutral entirely. Those wishing to get “married” would go to their church, whose rights to define it according to their own doctrine would be safe from government mandates on definitions, since the state wouldn’t care at all. Cohabiting couples can and should get partnership agreements signed to control their shared property, and the state would enforce those just as it does other contracts, without any interest in the sexual practices between the pair (or trio, or …). Laws regarding age of consent would still apply. It’s the ultimate “get the government out of the bedroom” approach.

The idea sounds pretty scary at first, government getting out of something it has been involved with for all of history. But then my libertarian instincts kick in and I think, why not? The government's main interest in marriage today is the enforcing of the contract and the interests of the children, and that wouldn't change, I would think.