Monday, May 4, 2009

Should marriage be privatized?

A friend recently presented me with the following argument: "For the sake of protecting traditional marriage, why not have the state get out of the marriage business altogether? This way the debate over the gay marriage will disappear b/c the state has no role in such questions."

Here is Jennifer Morse's response to the 'proposal.'

My argument is the law will have an educative effect one way or another. Either it will teach that traditional marriage accrues benefits for our citizens and the society at large OR it will teach that all sexual relationships are equal, that traditional marriage has no intrinsic merit over cohabitation, gay marriage, or polygamy. The latter will be the message sent to our citizens if the state gets out of the marriage business. In such a cultural mileu, it will be more, not less, difficult to encourage people to enter a traditional marriage. The educative effect of the law's 'nuetrality' will be to incentivize behavior my friend wants to discourage.

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