The debate over the whether or not homosexuals should have the opportunity to marry has been greatly debated in the past year – especially in America with the passing of proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California. The problem inherently found within both arguments is that neither side will ever give in to the other regardless of future government rulings on the matter. If gay marriage is made legal, all the institutions and individuals that opposed it today will continue to oppose it after the fact. This is similar to what we see in the debate over abortion. The problem within the debate is not with the debaters, but with the moderator. What right does government have to regulate marriage; better yet, do we really want government telling us what is moral and what is not? Morality is private, and unless there is the risk of immediate harm to others, government should stay out.
When western governments decided to remove themselves from religion it was a great step forward for both religion and the general public. Religious beliefs are extremely personal and in many cases private. If individuals decide to unite themselves with a specific religious assembly that group may have guide lines or rules that they expect those individuals to follow. These are essentially private contracts and they have worked very well among religions, and government has been able to remain completely neutral. Marriage for most people is a religious affair and is also a very personal matter. The government should not have the right to issue licenses for marriage. A private marketplace where individuals are able to enter into private contracts with each other would be optimal. Religious institutions will have the right to apply specific clauses or articles to those contracts if the marriage is to be conducted under the authority of that church, therefore providing for all religious beliefs within marriage.
The privatization of marriage would essentially end the debate over gay marriage because any institution in opposition to it will not be forced to recognize them or perform them. State incentives to marry would disappear and therefore allow individuals to enter into marriage for legitimate reasons reducing fraud. Some studies have even found that the rise in state sanctioned marriages correlates with government expansion over time. The argument for privatization is neither for or against gay marriage; it is an argument against government regulating morality.
Spencer Aland blogs regularly here.