Mission Statement

Mission Statement: This blog is dedicated to both political philosophy and application to current issues based on the ideas of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty. Additionally, this blog strives to create an atmosphere where intelligent discussions based on the principles of logic, no matter the viewpoints expressed in their conclusions, are not only welcome, but also thrive.

To learn more, feel free to read the introduction and subsequent posts which explain the aforementioned philosophy and purpose of this blog in more detail.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Issues 9: Gay and Other Non-traditional Marriage

     Non-traditional marriages have been a hot issue in the United States lately, mostly through the issue of gay marriages. The Federal government has partially done the right thing in being hands-off the issue directly and allowing each state to make their own determinations. However, this way of doing things still falls short.
     One of my biggest complaints no matter the issue has been the level of discussion used to present, defend, and attack arguments. I have made no secret of this, and I would a thousand times rather have comments on this blog that disagree with me but do so intelligently and with facts and logic rather than comments that agree with me but replace that rational discussion with emotion, name-calling, or any of the other multitude of ways people talk down to each other. I wish to make the point again before going on that I welcome all intelligent comments, no matter what you conclude about politics. Comments made in the nature of “well you just hate” or “you’re a fanatic” will mostly be deleted unless they have a very good point attached.
     Now, the reason I hit that so hard this post is because I want to mention a debate by the Economist. The Economist proposed that same-sex marriage should be legal and hosted a debate with many comments. Many were great comments that intelligently portrayed the feelings of members of both sides, but just as many were useless. What was surprising to me when I read it were the number of comments that proposed the most libertarian solution to the issue: get the government out of the marrying business.
     As I said before, the Federal government doesn’t marry people directly, but as the debate points out, over 1,000 US government regulations are tied to marital status. With the Federal government leaning on marriage so heavily, yet leaving the power of actually marrying people to the states, the Feds have become inextricably tied to the argument. In the Austin Post, Texas LP chair Pat Dixon made mention of George Washington not having to get government permission to marry Martha, while saying gay marriage should be legal. The solution I propose agrees with the lack of government intervention, but focusing on removing government completely rather than adding another concept on which it must put its stamp of approval. The solution has two major facets.
     The first is to simplify the tax code to the point where marital status is immaterial. I have outlined in previous entries how this should be done. Even without the sweeping tax code changes that I propose in that article, it would still be possible to simplify the code to avoid marriage (taxing all incomes as individuals rather than giving different filing options would be the obvious first step, following by ensuring there are no marriage-related credits or deductions). This would take the Federal government out of marriage in monetary terms.
     The second issue is next-of-kin arguments. In my view of a libertarian society, a person’s next of kin would always be their legal guardian until that person is emancipated in some way, in most cases right now by turning 18 years old. After a person is emancipated and no longer being officially cared for by another person, the next-of-kin should remain unchanged unless the person makes a preference known by some other means. This preference could be anything from a religious ceremony like marriage that carries a common connotation of next-of-kin transfer, to civil agreements between any individuals, to a tattoo on your back saying “John is my next-of-kin.” In cases where next-of-kin is disputed, a judge would look at the evidence and determine who the person in question would most want to represent their interests. This next-of-kin status would then apply to any decision-making issues for an incapacitated person or property transfer issues.
     These solutions to the non-traditional marriage issue would serve libertarian principles while allowing consenting adults to enter into any contractual agreements that they deem appropriate, or live in any manner that does initiate violence or fraud on another person. This is not just a fight for gay marriage rights, but is tied to all other forms of marriage to include polygamy, polyandry, group marriages, and any other way a person may want to consensually interact with other people.
     These are the prime areas of contention in state intervention in marriage as I see them (besides the fact that a government has to license you to do it in the first place!). I have developed these from readings, conversations, and debates. If there are other areas where my proposed libertarian method would create or overlook issues, please share those with me and the libertarian community. By removing government as much as possible from these areas, and removing the need for a government marriage license in the first place, we have effectively legalized non-traditional marriages without the need for the government to “approve” of anyone’s personal actions.


Christian MIller said...

The question of government’s role in marriage needs to be considered in two separate parts: the role of the federal government and the role of state governments. The federal government’s current primary role is providing financial benefits to couples with marriage licenses issued by the states.

State governments issue marriage licenses and determine who is qualified to get marriage licenses. They also established marriage laws that deal with the dissolution of marriage and provide a bundle of default provisions in case other documentation is absent. For example, if one spouse dies without a will, then a judge divides his/her estate among his relatives including the spouse, usually according to some formula.

I recommend that we start only with “Federal Government Free Marriage”. It will be an easier fight than getting the state governments out of the marriage business, which can come later.

Christian MIller said...

This is a great example of a Libertarian solution. It is an approach that few people have considered. It is also has very powerful case. A problem, however, is that it is difficult have a conclusive debate on this subject because a perceptive proponent of government involvement in marriage will soon see that his arguments have no merit and he will withdraw from the discussion.

Live Free said...
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Live Free said...

Christian, that is a great point about separating the governmental issues. For me the big picture looks like this: if you can get the Federal government out, that is take away all the financial incentives, then what you are left with is state-sponsored property agreements, which could be entered into by any individuals.

Great insight on the different levels and the game plan is one I certainly agree with.

As for the number of people, I was surprised by the numbers myself when I saw this video:


Nationally it probably does not have the support it needs yet, but hopefully as people realize the spread of our government, the sentiment (fueled by logic, hopefully) will grow.

Thanks for the comments. I greatly appreciate the participation.

This Guy said...

BTW, I appreciate the argument, and I agree with it up until the multi-partner issues. People can marry 6 times at once, for all I care. But I want to go on record as saying that this type of structure is not healthy for children's development. It is worth stating that I believe that when you do decide on a family responsibility, kids shouldn't be put through those beliefs as kids.

Live Free said...

This Guy, strangely enough, that is the same argument used by many who oppose gay marriage. That is one of the big problems that I have with gay rights activists--how can you support one without supporting the other?