Same-Sex “Marriage” and Big Government

It’s been big week for same-sex “marriage”. On Tuesday, the voters of North Carolina passed a Constitutional amendment asserting: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The following day, President Barack Obama came out in support of same-sex “marriage” in a statement that was characteristically more about himself than about the issue in question: “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that, for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” While social liberals are shrilly upset that the statement doesn’t go far enough (go figure!), it’s still the first time that a sitting President has said anything like it.

Refreshing as it is that Julia’s benefactor of first resort thinks that anybody should get married, these two events a day apart in a decades-long fight illustrate each side’s reflexive reliance upon the civil state to achieve its vision of social harmony.

According to Bishop Phillip Davis, pastor of Nations Ford Community Church, a black congregation in southwest Charlotte, “The voters of North Carolina have chosen to protect the soul of the state and the nation; that is marriage and family.”

On the other hand, Mr. Obama, in “a personal message” sent via email yesterday from his campaign, explained his evolution out of the pro-gay closet in yet another self-referential statement: “What I’ve come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens.” So government policy should be influenced by the subjective feelings of children as it seeks to impose social sanction.

Neither of these views fits the role of limited government. Civil governments exist to secure inalienable rights. To dispute this is to dispute the validity of the United States of America.

Now, there are those who insist that marriage is a right. But while a right to contract certainly exists, and freedom of religion would allow for churches to “marry” anyone they choose according to their own tenets, what “gay rights” activists are agitating for in the public policy realm is the opportunity to have their relationships licensed by the civil state. This isn’t a right; it’s an intrusion.

Well, they argue, married couples receive a number of financial benefits just for being married. Laying aside the concern that anybody who wants to get married for the financial goodies probably shouldn’t, they have a point worth considering regarding the tax code. But the differing treatment of married and single filers in the income tax system is a by-product of the progressivity of the code—an inappropriate use of civil government for the purposes of wealth redistribution. For anyone truly concerned about inequitableness, a better approach than implementing same-sex “marriage” is eliminating tax progressivity.

They also claim exclusion from other wealth-transfer programs, the biggest of which is Social Security. But whatever one thinks of the original purposes of that system, it was never intended to be the primary source of support for decades of leisure, and the fact that people have come to view this actuarially impossible feat as an entitlement is yet another example of how dependent on Big Nanny we have become.

Another financial goodie that marriage can mean is access to employer-based benefits, particularly health insurance. But here again, we have a reliance on an inappropriate government intrusion. Freedom of contract means that employers and employees negotiate the terms of compensation; the proper role of government is to enforce the contractual arrangement, not to establish its terms.

Underlying this call for financial goodies, and social sanction, is the mythology of “fairness”—the rallying cry of two-year-olds, OccupyEverythingButACubicle, and Mr. Obama himself, who bizarrely invokes it to rationalize taxing those who earn more at even higher rates than they already pay.

But life isn’t fair, and civil government can’t change that. And much of the woes of the last century, as well as many of the perceived financial injustices experienced by same-sex couples, stem from inappropriate governmental efforts to make life fair, by robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The solution to what ails us lies neither in banning nor embracing same-sex “marriage”; it lies in depending on government less for everything from financial support to social sanction and harmony.

It’s been a big week for same-sex “marriage”—and for big government.

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