Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I am Against State Marriage

There is a lot of debate about gay marriage and whether or not states should institute it. A lot of gay people feel that their rights are being violated if they cannot get married. A lot of other people feel that the state has no right to redefine the definition of marriage. Many libertarians feel that the obvious answer is to get the state to allow gay marriage since it does not matter what peaceful choices individuals make. I disagree with that answer.

As an anarchist, the obvious answer is to get rid of state marriage altogether, whether it is straight or gay. Why does the state need to authorize my marriage? They don't! Do I need the state's blessing? No! My marriage is between me, my wife, and God. I do not need a coercive third-party to oversee my relationship status and grant me a license to get married, let alone make me pay for it.

Besides the gay marriage debate, I believe there are more serious consequences that come with state marriage. Marriage is a contract, but in our current situation, we do not get to decide what is in that contract - the contract that should only be between spouses. Only the state decides what marriage means. That is troubling. That means that, if a marriage happens to end in divorce, the state can unilaterally decide what each person is responsible for, regardless of what the couple wants. Even more troubling is the fact that, should a married couple move to a different state with different laws, the marriage contract the couple made previously is basically null and void - just for moving! As always, the state causes more problems than it solves.

Some people might wonder how certain things, like visitation rights and inheritances, would work without state marriage. We are all adults so I believe that we can handle all these situations without having to take orders from a violent organization bent on running our lives. The way that we can overcome these problems is through explicit contracts. If you feel the need to delegate specific powers, in relation to your life and property, to a specific person, make a contract. You can do that without the state.

The next time you think of one of the great political controversies of our time, think about the possibility of the state being the cause of the dispute. Think about the possibility of getting rid of state intervention in that area. Think about how you can solve problems with more freedom instead of less.


  1. I agree that the state shouldn't interfere in people's right to marry. But it isn't just about "gay marriage". That is why the term recommended today is "marriage equality". Gays aren't the only ones affected by the current restrictions on marriage here in Arizona and in the U.S. as a whole. Bisexuals, lesbians, and intersex people are also affected. (I would include transgender people, too, but they are usually either straight, gay/lesbian, or bisexual anyway.) The thing about intersexual people is that they are neither male or female. They are born both, some with ambiguous genitalia. According to our current law passed recently (2008?) the people of Arizona define marriage as between someone who is male and someone who is female. What about the third gender people who are neither male nor female? Usually someone born intersex has an assigned gender on their birth certificate. In the U.S., as far as I'm aware, there is no third gender box on birth certificates. So, if this intersex person was assigned to be male as a baby, they can legally marry someone born female. But, since intersex people are really a mixture of both genders, what if they wanted to marry someone of their same assigned gender? They should be able to. Since they are neither and both. We shouldn't restrict them from that as it is their right as human beings. Just something to think about.

  2. There is really no need for the state to decide how this contract should be formed. As long as people enter into voluntary arrangements with enough thought should be no problems. I am sure many, many times people would elect to use an "off the shelf contract" which prior people have found to meet their needs regarding common items such as childcare, common possessions and arrangements for dissolving the contract.

    1. You have an excellent point about off-the-shelf contracts. I believe you’re right. The great thing about non-state marriage is that people would actually take a moment to think about what it means to breach a marriage contract.