Friday, November 20, 2009

Deregulate marriage!

Posted by Allen Lewis

In 2005 the State of Texas Constitution was amended in an effort to ban gay marriage and same-sex civil unions. Article 1, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution reads:

Sec. 32.
(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Former attorney, US Senate candidate and current candidate for Texas Attorney General Barbara Ann Radnofsky believes that subsection b may actually ban all marriage in Texas.

Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

She calls it a "massive mistake" and blames the current attorney general, Republican Greg Abbott, for allowing the language to become part of the Texas Constitution. Radnofsky called on Abbott to acknowledge the wording as an error and consider an apology. She also said that another constitutional amendment may be necessary to reverse the problem.

In my view, this would be glorious news for everybody that is truly concerned about the sanctity of marriage. The government has no moral right to regulate marriage. Citizens should not have to pay the state for a license granting the right to enter into any type of contract, marriage included. We should not have to ask the state's permission to get married. The government should not be involved in marriage in any way whatsoever.

The institution of marriage has been irreversibly harmed in this country, but it's not for the reasons commonly cited by many conservatives. The state has taken what should be a sacred contract between two people - something that has historically been sanctioned by a religious authority - and made it the domain of the government.

By placing marriage (or more succinctly, the right to marry) in the domain of the law, our government has served only to perpetuate the insulting notion that the state should regulate the most personal of choices in our lives. We should deregulate marriage immediately.

4 comments:

One Salient Oversight said...

Okay, some links from Wikipedia:

Civil Marriage.

Common-law marriage.

The legal recognition of marriage has been part of western society for more than 1000 years. If you're arguing that "the government shouldn't regulate marriage" then you're essentially saying that marriage as a legal entity should no longer exist.

As soon as anything becomes a matter of law, it immediately comes under the influence of the state.

If you don't want the state to have influence over marriage, then you're essentially arguing that "marriage" should be abolished, for gays, for heterosexuals in civil marriage, for heterosexuals who live with one another under common-law marriage... and for those who get married in the church.

Abolish marriage - that's your argument?

Or maybe you're arguing that only church-based marriages should be recognised. Paul certainly recognised the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian in 1 Corinthians 7.

And where are the wedding ceremonies that are performed or regulated in scripture?

Allen Lewis said...

Um...no. Not close really. I'm not sure how you got "abolish marriage" out of that, unless you didn't read it.

A marriage is obviously different things to different people. To Catholics (and some Protestants) marriage is a virtually indissoluble union, the establishment of a permanent, lifelong, complete partnership between a man and a woman in the presence of God.

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum you may have atheists or other non-religious folk (I have a friend who is an ordained minister in the Church of the Internet!) to whom marriage may just be a simple contract that can be voided at a whim.

(I know many Christians may be aghast at describing marriage as a simple contract, but I'll point out that the Catholic Church describes it this way. My wife is Filipino and Catholic, and when we got married in Manila I actually had to sign a piece of paper called a marriage contract - about 10 seconds after I kissed the bride!)

At the end of the day though, the decision of two people to get married has nothing to do with the government. If M and W are Catholic (or Baptist, or Methodist, or Jewish, etc.) and are devout in their religion, the only permission they should seek is that of their faith. In no situation does the government have the right to tell people that they can or can't enter into any sort of association they freely choose - even if it's truly insulting to some (most?) members of society.

If two gay men decide to enter into a marriage-like contract - and maybe they even decide to call it a marriage - the Christians have no requirement to recognize it as valid. The gay men can say, "We're married," and the Catholics can say, "No you're not." The gay men may have their feelings hurt, and the Catholics may be horrified at the thought of two men committing this mortal sin, but none of them are really damaged by what has just transpired.

Perhaps the gay men are Baptist, and the Baptist Church says that it will not marry them. The men have no right to force their life choices on the Church. They are at liberty to find a new church - one that will endorse their lifestyle.

Furthermore I would submit to you that the Christians, if they truly believe in their faith, should work through their Church to try and convince people that gay marriage is wrong. In other words they should work to truly change hearts and minds - not simply enforce their views upon the populace by government force. If they are truly worried about moral decay in society, why in the heck would they try to use the government instead of the Church as a change agent?

Finally, even if the Congress passes an Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing the "right" of homosexuals to marry, Christians STILL have no requirement to recognize their unions as valid. That is indisputable - you can't legislate the way people think.

(And for your final comment about wedding ceremonies, that's completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.)

One Salient Oversight said...

What you're saying is that marriage should not be covered by civil law. That's 1000 or more years of legal and societal history that you are saying was completely wrong.

If civil law DOES cover marriage (as it has done for over a millenia) then the state automatically has a say in marriage. You cannot have laws without government.

The Dude said...

A thousand years is like a whole millenium and I'm telling you that maybe my first marriage lasted about nine months is all but it really felt like a thousand years.

That's all I'm saying.