In a most excellent column today in the Denver Post, David Harsanyi offers a pleasant image of America where government removed itself from the business of marriage:
Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman — or no one at all — and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.
As with those of us who imagine that blissfual day when the state ends its “war on drugs”, it ain’t gonna happen.
He also addresses Judge Walker’s silly notion that “‘moral disapproval alone’ was behind this plot to define marriage as a union between a one man and one woman.”
That jurist reaches his conclusion not based on facts, but based on his narrow-minded impression of the opponents of same-sex marriage.* If the judge were right, the Gallup surveys on those who find homosexuality “morally wrong” would align perfectly with those who oppose gay marriage. But, in May, Gallup found that 43% of Americans found gay or lesbian relations “morally wrong” while finding that 53% opposed gay marriage.
The libertarian-leaning columnist offers a nice rhetorical rejoinder to the ill-informed federal judge:
Does that mean that approximately half of all voters — and all 7 million Californians who voted for Prop 8 — have no logical or legal reason for believing that marriage should be between a man and women other than bigotry?
Harsanyi noted that even Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who bent over backwards to appease gay groups at Harvard Law School, “recently wrote that ‘There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.’” She’s right on that one.
Nothing in the constitution mandates that the states recognize same-sex marriage. By the same token, nothing in the constitution requires that courts overturn state actions recognizing same-sex marriage. Indeed, it’s pretty clear that the constitution protects such actions.
All that said, Harsanyi is on to something. We could avoid all these battles if the state simply removed itself from the business of marriage.
*Gay marriage opponents are, Judge Walker might be surprised to learn, a very diverse lot, including some bigots as well as some very broad-minded people who just think marriage should be reserved for individuals of different sexes, but are otherwise tolerant and accepting of gay people.