It is perhaps serendipitous that shortly after completing Joseph J. Ellis‘s American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, I started Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch’s The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America. Let me just say I recommend both books, the latter more than the former. Each book considers the defining words of our nation’s founding document:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our Creator has endowed us with the rights to life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness, that is, they come from the hand of God and not that of man.
Governments do not grant us freedom, but they can (and unfortunately do) limit its exercise.
Wherever I read of activists agitating for the freedom to marry (heck, there’s an organization with that very name), I wonder if they’re familiar with the meaning of the Declaration and of the very idea of freedom itself.
Today, the debate on gay marriage is not about granting individuals the freedom to marry an individual of their same sex, but about whether the state should recognize such unions. When gay couples marry in states (or countries) which grant licenses for such unions and return to states which do not, they do not suffer the fate the Lovings did in the 1960s. The authorities do not threaten them with arrest, request that they leave the jurisdiction or demand that they live apart.
They merely fail to grant them the privileges they extend to different-sex couples who have secured a marriage license. Let us bear this in mind as we debate this most important issue.
Let us not turn to the government as the source of our liberty lest we become dependent on state action to take care of those things we can effect on our own — without their intervention, but be ever vigilant against its encroachments on our liberty.
FROM THE COMMENTS: Grizzly Glenn gets my point and build on it:
Perhaps somebody can explain to me how something that is considered a basic human right, requires a license from State. I don’t have a State issued license for life, liberty, or the pursuit happiness. I have a State issued driver’s license because I have met the requirements to receive one. I don’t have a medical license because I don’t meet the requirements. I am currently trying to get my professional engineering license, but I don’t yet meet the requirements of the State. I don’t have a basic human right to be issued any license without meeting the standards of the State. Ask any licensing agency and they will tell you that obtaining is a privilege and not a right.
People can argue over the standards required to obtain a marriage license, but I don’t see how it is considered a basic human right.