James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The End of the Defense of Marriage Act?

Chuck Muth gets a few Constitutional details wrong here, but it is interesting to speculate on what should happen if the Supreme Court ever does rule state laws against same-sex marriages unconstitutional. Would an Amendment to the Constitution be worth while, even in such an egregious case of federal usurpation of legitimate state authority?

I wouldn't think so. I oppose same-sex marriages simply because, already aware of sham marriages for immigration reasons, and sham marriages based on getting health insurance, I'd hate to see this fraud expanded to where best friends could get "married" for economic convenience (at the cost of businesses and taxpayers).

But that's because the State already has an inappropriate role in our economic lives. It shouldn't be the State's business to grant benefits to spouses, or to force private businesses to do the same. Such State interference ought to be reduced, but with same-sex marriage it will only expand.

But instead of fighting it with a Constitutional Amendment, those religious conservatives and whomever else that are sickened at the thought of State-sanctioned gay marriage, ought simply to live by their own principles. Churches could tell their congregations that the State's version of "marriage" is an unholy outrage and it is inappropriate for them to get a marriage formally recognized by the State. Churches could then formally bless marriages without the "and by the laws of the State of..." pronouncement. In the eyes of the State, the couple would not be married, and the spouses would not be legally entitled to whatever spousal benefits exist for employees. In other words, if conservatives put their money where their mouth is, they would trade places with gays. Gays could get marriages recognized by the State, and conservatives would not.

Like home-schooling, and churches that refuse tax-exempt status so as to preserve their free speech rights, this refusal to kow-tow to the government and the courts would be a radical and healthy alternative than further political involvement. The more people who get married in Church but not by the State, the more people would want to privatize the institution entirely.

Sure, it would take time, but consider home-schooling thirty years ago, compared to the number of people who now believe the State should have no role at all in the education of children. A small number, but growing. Same with Churches who refuse tax-exempt status so that they don't have to play by the State's rules.

Instead of seeking political power to "restore the sanctity of marriage" and whatnot, the more effective solution is to sidestep the State entirely and create separate and free institutions. Defeat the State by making it irrelevent.

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