What right has the state got to say who can and can’t get married? The state might have a role in protecting the rights of children and children who might be born as a result of a sexual partnership between a man and a woman and there might be a reason to promote stable relationships between those who may have children. But otherwise, surely the moral legitimisation of sexual relationships is none of the state’s business what so ever?
So why do politicians, rather than religious leaders for example, think that it is their role to condone certain kinds of sexual relations? Our politicians are hardly the most morally upstanding people in society!
I believe the state has no right to interfere with people’s private lives unless their behaviour has serious repercussions or seriously affects other people. So, what right have our politicians to either endorse or condemn two gay people who want to live with each other or for that matter condone or condemn two sisters or brothers living together? Why should the state feel it must interfere with one, but ignore the other? What is the real difference? It is that one pair are having sex and the other is not. What does that matter? Why are our politicians so obsessed with sex? Who cares if people in private of their own homes are or are not having sex? Apparently our politicians do, because that is what gay marriage amounts to – an obsession with legitimising sexual acts!
Yes the state has a right to interfere in sex where it affects others: where sex occurs without permission or where permission cannot be given. Yes, it may proscribe abusive relationships or to curtail seriously dangerous or harmful practices, but otherwise the state should have no role or any say about sexual practices! Gay, straight or none – it’s none of their business and they should keep their noses out of private lives!
So, why do we have marriage? Taxation may be a legitimate reason – but that is either because partners have set up home together OR because they have children. Sex (unless children can arise) is NOT RELEVANT. Inheritance, pensions, being the contact in medical emergency and being able to expect support in return for giving up jobs to be in a partnership – they are all relevant issues for the state, but sexual orientation OR NO sexual orientation is not the legitimate concern of the state. A gay couple need not have any more protection from the state than a pair of spinsters.
Who does have a right to have a say?
Even though I’m not religious, I understand that married is hugely important to religious institution. So, e.g. the expectation within a catholic marriage may be very different from that within a Muslim or protestant marriage. They are hugely impacted by the intrusive meddling of politicians into private lives – an area where those of religious faith rightly feel the church has a say but not our politicians!
So, here’s a simple question – why not devolve marriage law to these religious groups (or those of no religion). Why not take the state out of the issue of marriage altogether? Why not even go as far as to create subsidiary law for those who have the most say in marriage – the religions.
A possible proposal
So, let us as far as possible take the state & politicians out of marriage. So, let us streamline the law to the two essential bare minimum elements and let us devolve all the other aspects of marriage to those social groups who want to a say about it.
- We bring in a new “family partnership” act (traditional Marriage) , but minimising the role of the state to that necessary for those relationships where there are innocent third parties who have to be protected: children!
- Let us draw up a more sensible approach to social partnerships for partnerships where children will result.
- Finally, we should divorce the state from marriage and let society in the form of religious groups or even non-religious groups create their own marriages as they wish.
This would create a core legal protective framework involving either or both of the first two upon which social groups could build their own custom-made marriage.
To enable this to happen religious and social groups would register as “marriage licensors” which would then give them the right to produce their own legally enforceable secondary legislation for those who contract to marriage under their rules. As far as possible, but within reasonable limits (e.g. divorce could not be impossible) these groups would be able to create their own rules for getting married and for divorce. This way, everyone from religious groups to the gay community would be able to celebrate marriage in their own way.
So long as the innocent children are protected, so long as those in long-term partnerships are given the legal authority and protection as they mutually consent … it should be up to society and those in society who uphold marriage, NOT POLITICIANS, to determine what marriage means.