January 09, 2010

Should Marriage Be a Private Contract?

That's the interesting take from an article in the New York Daily News (hat tip PageOneQ):

Following bitter defeats in California, Maine, and New York, the gay and lesbian community has a New Year's victory to celebrate. New Hampshire joins four other states - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont - in legalizing gay marriage. And the nation's capital is also onboard. Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty put it this way: "Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral and religious issue."

He covered all the bases, except one: It's a constitutional issue as well.

Thomas Jefferson set the stage in the Declaration of Independence: "[T]o secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men." The primary purpose of government is to safeguard individual rights and prevent some persons from harming others. Heterosexuals should not be treated preferentially when the state carries out that role. And no one is harmed by the union of two consenting gay people.

For most of Western history, marriage was a matter of private contract between the betrothed parties and perhaps their families. Following that tradition, marriage today should be a private arrangement, requiring minimal or no state intervention. Some religious or secular institutions would recognize gay marriages; others would not; still others would call them domestic partnerships or assign another label. Join whichever group you wish. The rights and responsibilities of partners would be governed by personally tailored contracts - consensual bargains like those that control most other interactions in a free society.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Has government intruded too much into marriage of any type?  We'd like to hear your views.

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