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Opening Arguments

Privatizing marriage

The Indiana General Assembly has now put off a referendum on putting the gay marriage ban into the state constitution until at least 2016. And some predict it will never get to the voters, giving how rapidly public opinion is moving on the issue. (See here) This comes in the wake of a Virginia's same-sex ban getting overturned by a feeral judge and the tossing of Kentucky's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Seems like a good time for some fresh thinking on the issue, as in this thoughtful essay:

Years ago, I advocated that the best way to protect the traditional definition of marriage was to get government out of the business of it. Many traditionalists objected to it, and there are good arguments for conserving the tradition in law as the basis to keep families and children prioritized over the desires of adults seeking government recognition for their own non-traditional relationships. That argument relies on the moral force of law in the culture, but the momentum of the culture clearly has accelerated in the opposite direction, and moral force in the definition of marriage with it.

The greater issue for traditionalists, and the bigger risk, will be that religious institutions will find themselves trapped by the changing definitions. We’ve already seen evidence that participants in the wedding industry will find themselves under fire for sticking with their own values in choosing when and how to participate in the market. Ministers occupy a rather unique position in the confluence of state and church, operating in an official capacity as an agent of the state to certify marriages. Even though advocates of same-sex marriage insist that they don’t want to force churches into performing these ceremonies, it’s not going to be long before such challenges arise, and will push churches out of the marriage business instead of government — which is a big reason for getting government out first. And if you doubt that this will become an issue, just look at the HHS contraception mandate and their treatment of religious organizations.

Just get the government out. That's been the libertarian position for some time, and it's interesting that some conservatives are starting to come around to it now. I have no idea if it would work or if we would just be inviting chaos. What happens, for example, when a couple of different faiths, with different views of gay marriage, get a divorce and get into a custody battle? That's one of the objections noted in the piece.

Work having a good debate about, though.