Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have my friend's wedding to go to this weekend and everybody knows what that means...OPEN BAR! But before the festivities begin we must endure the nuptials brought to you by your local town government. As we all know it isn't a marriage without the perfect combination of love and state regulation. And just think less than a century ago it was only unromantic.

For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families. Sure sometimes some land or livestock would be worked into the deal, but the government never got involved. Churches would take the word of the couple if they claimed to have exchanged vows, and signatures and blood tests were not required. Even up until the mid-19th century, US state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage.

But as we entered the 20th century, government began to be more intrusive into our personal lives. They knew what was best for Americans...and since government regulation is nothing but fair and just, they began to exert more control over who was allowed to marry. By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from interracial marriage and twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict, had a social disease, or was a "mental defect."

The marriage laws and license requirements of many states originated from the ideas of eugenics. Such ideas had the support of scientists like Linus Pauling, who advocated that people with genetic defects be denied marriage licenses. He even went so far as to recommend that people with sickle cell anemia have their foreheads stamped to identify their condition so that no one would mate with them, thus eradicating the disease. As it became clear that the science of eugenics was highly suspect, often racist, and completely insane, the laws and restrictions were relaxed.

But the damage had been done. Instead of repealing the marriage license law, the government changed the laws purpose and used it to distribute benefits to marriages they deemed worthy. (In our case, these were only marriages between one man and one woman.) Corporations and employers were now able to hide behind these laws and deny health insurance or pension benefits to employees' dependents. Courts and hospitals now required a marriage license before granting couples the privilege of inheriting from each other or receiving medical information, no matter how long the couple had been together. And worst of all, Social Security savings would now disappear into government pockets if there was not a legal surviving spouse to inherit them. Goldie Hawn better hope and pray the money from Sky High will be able to support her when Kurt Russell is gone.

By allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we do not have a right to marry...marriage is only a privilege. And as recently as 2009, the power to license was still being used in attempts to block interracial marriages. Somehow only the government repeatedly gets away with this kind of blatant discrimination, and is never questioned about the laws original intent. Corporations, on the other hand, have begun to allow non-married partners to receive benefits, with proof of a joint bank account and residency. The government is usually decades behind the private sector, still not even allowing openly gay people into the military.

But if consenting adults wish to call themselves married let them, but no one has the right, especially the government, to impose their views onto someone else. We need to promote individualism and freedom. We need to take away the government's power to divide us. But most importantly, we need to make sure that the government upholds and enforces private legal contracts. Contracts granting partners rights that are so easily denied by this law. Non-marital relationship contracts are not limited to two people, and because these contracts are private any number of people can be a party to them, no matter their race, religion or sexual preference.

By only expanding the definition of marriage under government regulation, we are only expanding a broken and unfair welfare system. Government benefits, especially those that involve money, only pits citizens against one another. Government cleverly uses this to keep us divided so we are left in an endless debate over natural rights at the tax payer's expense, instead of debating about sound monetary and foreign policy.

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