The Wrath of God Shall Soon Strike California

By: Mr. Wilson on September 7, 2005
Gays can marry in California, at least in theory. Gov. Schwarzenegger could still whip out his veto pen; he has said that gay marriage ought to be decided by the voters (aren't they who elected the people who made this law?) or the courts (what happened to opposing "activist" judges?). Although I congratulate California's gay population on their success in pushing this issue, I'm still frustrated by my belief that government ought not be so heavily intermingled in marriage in the first place. Marriage essentially consists of two parts: the religious part (for most couples) and the legal part. Currently the government sanctions the religious part by giving religious (and "religious") leaders tremendous power over the marriage process. The government has also created impressive bureaucracies in order to support the legal (and, in some cases, state-sponsored paternalistic) side of marriage. Why all the hassle? Why the intermingling of government with religion? Marriage is, at its core, a special type of contract between two individuals. Who those individuals are and the restrictions they put on that contract ought to be up to them, not to the state. Couples should be able to establish a legal bond as loose or restrictive as they like, within a reasonably flexible framework established by the state. (The framework would have to differentiate a marriage contract from other types of contracts between individuals.) None of that has any effect whatsoever on the religious side of things. Weddings go on as usual, churches still get to sanction marriages before God, and couples can still bind themselves via whatever covenant they choose to establish in accordance with their religious beliefs. But priests should not have the right to sanction marriages on behalf of the state, whose interests ought to be strictly secular. Anyw ay, congratulations to California about five years from now when this decision actually takes effect.


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