Monday, April 6, 2009

Privatizing Marriage

Jane Galt doubts the wisdom of getting government out of the business of sanctifying human pair bondings:

It's quite possibly true that in some ideal libertarian state, the government would not be in the business of defining marriages, or would merely enforce whatever creative contracts people chose to draw up. That's a lovely discussion for a libertarian forum. However, we are confronting a major legal change that is actually happening in the country we live in, where marriage is, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, an institution in which the government is intimately involved.
She goes on to analogize the privatization of marriage with the privatization of Social Security, the commonality being that Social Security is "an institution in which the government is intimately involved" and in which people have based significant expectations. The analogy is very weak.

Taking away the Social Security program would eliminate payments of actual money to millions of actual people who are, today, calculating their savings rate with those payments in mind.

What is the analogue to this for heterosexuals contemplating marriage? Consider a heterosexual boyfriend-girlfriend deciding whether to marry. They can expect that, if married, they will derive certain inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, child custody rights, favorable presumptions in beneficiary designations, and a smattering of tax changes. Depending on the laws of the state in which they marry, they can anticipate varying divisions of the income, debt, and assets they bring into the union. And so on.

Allowing gay people to marry changes none of this. The same expectations would hold, but gay people would be allowed to participate.

It's quite simple. Privatizing marriage gets the state out of the business of picking favorites among the varieties of human bondings. It deprives no one of anything. Churches, individuals, and other private entities would continue to be free to stigmatize, ostracize, dislike, condemn, and refuse to acknowledge the kinds of bonds that people form.


UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 4/7/2009, at The Unreligious Right

Dale said...

UNRR, thanks for that!