Gay marriage? Straight marriage? Just de-regulate marriage

Posted on January 1, 2012

The gay marriage debate is back.

The Coalition plans to lift the ban, changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. The Independent reports that David Burrowes MP is (somewhat implausibly) claiming there will be a triple-figure rebellion of Tory backbenchers to defeat the plans.

The Evangelical Alliance¬† claim the proposals signal “the end of conservatism” (despite Evangelical Christianity being a new radicalism, rather than a conservative movement). Ben Summerskill of Stonewall has accused backbench Tories of “old-fashioned homophobia” (on the evidence of only one MP’s comments).

On one side, supposedly the very concept of the family is threatened if the Government changes its regulations. On the other side, unless the Government extends its regulations then a whole tranche of the population are given second class status under the law.

The mud flies, the rhetorical stakes are raised again and again. Questions fly, and few useful answers are delivered.

But what is the libertarian response? The answer must surely be that the State should not regulate marriage at all.

Two people agree to make a private contract between each other.  They make it for love, or for family logistics, or for religious belief. They make their vows before God, or before their friends and family or simply before each other. That is down to them.

Marriage is an unusual kind of contract, but it is one nonetheless – each party makes pledges, receiving promises and takes on responsibilities in return.

Where is the Government’s place at the wedding breakfast table? Why should the grey-suited regulator get a save-the-date and a dainty invite?

The best way to banish the acrimony and the legislative to and fro over same sex marriage is to abolish the regulation of all marriage entirely. It is the vowing to each other, the exchanging of rings and the sealing kiss, not the signing of the State’s register, that is the focal point of a couple’s day.



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Categories: Opinion, Politics


3 Responses

  1. PJH:

    “The answer must surely be that the State should not regulate marriage at all.

    Two people agree to make a private contract between each other”

    Only two? What about polygyny/polyandry? I can see the church up in arms about that one.

    ‘Arranged’ marriages?

    18.01.2012 14:38 Reply

  2. PeterE:

    But currently marriage has certain legal implications, and so to some extent needs to be regulated. What about sham marriages, for example? Not to mention the regulation of divorce and the allocation of assets and reponsibility for children. Is “I divorce thee” thrice sufficient?

    18.01.2012 15:07 Reply

  3. Michael Reed:

    Agree with your basic point. Regulating is for lefties. When Cameron said that he’s in favour of gay marriage because he’s a Conservative he was talking like a proper Tory for once.

    Agree with PJH. What if three people would like to get married? Or more? What if a person would like to get married for five years or until their children are 16?

    Of course, the left will lobby against these new ideas by claiming that they’d be used to oppress women and the powerful gay lobbies won’t do anything to help anyone else.

    18.01.2012 16:26 Reply

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