No Right To Marry

April 1st, 2013   Submitted by Davi Barker

IntracialSo, some elderly sociocrats in black mumus are deliberating over what the official State sanctioned definition of marriage should be. Apparently the document which they are charged with interpreting is silent on the issue, so some people think they should go with some whitewashed fantasy version of ancient Biblical Law by default, rather than just remaining silent on the issue. Rival gangs have polarized on opposite sides of the issue, and like proverbial primates, now they fling rhetorical poop at one another. What really irks me about the “traditional marriage” crowd is how fundamentally insincere they are about their reasons, and what irks me about “marriage equality” crowd is how unprincipled they are if you scratch the surface of their position.

Let’s be clear. For “traditional marriage” advocates it’s all about anal-sex. Period. It’s not about children, or God, or even about marriage. This is an issue because some people are really uncomfortable with their neighbors having anal sex. They don’t even really seem to mind lesbians. Yet, for some reason, only the Westboro Baptist Church types ever mention it, and they are universally reviled by both sides.

They say children need both male and female role models, but they don’t rail against single parents, and if you ask them they don’t usually have a problem if circumstances require a child to be raised by more than one heterosexual man. Remember the movie 3 Men and a Baby (1987). No objections. They say they don’t want to change the time-tested building blocks of society, but if you inform them that the normative marriage practices throughout history included polygamy, marital rape, and treating women as male property they don’t suddenly support those things. Then of course they say the purpose of marriage is procreation, but they have no desire to institute a fertility test for marriage. They only have a problem if the infertile people are gay. The sick irony is that changing the behavior the social conservatives are upset about is not on the table. It’s not even part of the discussion. Yet it is obviously their only motivation.

The “marriage equality” advocates don’t fair much better in my opinion. They start with the principles that marriage is a right, and equality is a right, so everyone should have equal right to marry. Sounds good, but after just a little bit of pressing they don’t usually support marriage equality for polygamous marriages, polyamorous marriages, incestuous marriages, or any other bizarre constellation consenting adults configure themselves in. Bring up those topics and they immediately begin echoing the rhetoric of the “traditional marriage” advocates. It’s disgusting. It’s bad for children. It’s bad for society. Blah blah blah. Or, they give you some line about strategy and not wanting to associate their struggle with segments of society more marginalized than themselves. Paging Pastor Martin Niemoller.

In reality, they don’t regard marriage as a right. They merely want to be granted the privilege. They don’t want to abolish State coercion in our personal relationships, they just want the abuse pointed at someone else. Anyway you slice it, so long as the marriage license exists, no one has the right to marry. Only the privilege to marry exists.

It’s important to point out that we’re not talking about a private contract between consenting adults. We are talking about a license, which defines a coercive relationship between two citizens and the State. I am perturbed by the popular assumption that a marriage without a license is not a “real marriage” because the marriage license itself is an immoral institution, and damaging to both sides of the gay marriage debate.

In the Black’s Law Dictionary “License” is defined as “The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission, would be illegal.” When secular authority claims the power to license it claims the power to prohibit. No license may be issued without first prohibiting the practice being licensed. By definition the need for a license is predicated upon an act being illegal. Under current law marriage is not a right for anyone, but a privilege granted by the State, and neither group addresses this fundamental incongruity. In my conversations with both groups most viewed the idea of abolishing the marriage license as somehow cheapening their relationship, as if being recognized by the State made their love more sincere, and their commitment more firm.

The marriage license was first issued to institute prohibitions on marriage, not to protect the right to marry. Blacks Law Dictionary defines “marriage license” as “A license or permission granted by public authority to persons who intend to intermarry*.” Then it defines “Intermarry” as, “Miscegenation; mixed or interracial marriages.” In the 1920s marriage licenses were invented by bigots to prohibit white people from marrying blacks people.

Do you see? The marriage license is a wholly immoral and unnecessary institution predicated on the erroneous idea that black people should not have equal access as whites to the marriage privilege. While once they were used to prohibit interracial marriages, today they are used to prohibit homosexual and plural marriage. The answer is not to fight over who is permitted to receive the license. The answer is abolishing the license altogether, and agreeing not to use State coercion to regulate our neighbor’s personal relationships.

On it’s face, it should be humiliating to everyone to grovel for permission to marry. We should also consider the reality that the paperwork couples sign is a contract with the State. Conventional wisdom suggests we should always read the contracts we sign, but this is impossible because the terms of this contract are obfuscated in 200 years of legal code, which are buried in legal libraries in language we barely understand. Even if we discover something objectionable, we cannot renegotiate the terms of this contract, and the State can change the terms at any time without our consent. In affect, signing a marriage license is consent to whatever laws they have passed, and whatever laws they will pass into perpetuity.

I’ve had this discussion with enough people to know the typical objections which have probably already come to your mind. The marriage license will help you avoid taxes by filing together. It gives your spouse authority to make medical decisions. It plays into inheritance laws. To me, all this sounds like, “You have to submit to State coercion to protect yourself against State coercion.” It’s ludicrous. I reject the arguments from tax benefits. Having a complicated system of tax law built upon bigotry doesn’t justify the bigotry. Imagine if someone argued against abolishing slavery because owning slaves gives you a tax write off. Decisions about one’s medical proxy and inheritance could easily be handled by private contracts without a marriage license. The marriage license does not protect the right to marry, it prohibits it.

The simple fact is this. The positions of those on both sides of the gay marriage debate are hopelessly irreconcilable so long as the State is involved. But whether they believe in gay marriage or not, those who are willing to abolish the marriage license all together have nothing left to fight about. Those who believe in gay marriage would be free to enter private contracts without using the coercive power of the State to force others to recognize it. Those who do not believe in gay marriage would be free to withdraw their moral sanction without using the coercive power of the State to prevent others from entering private contracts. It is the State, not the marriage, that divides people, destroying both tradition and equality in the process.

Tags: , , ,

30 Responses to “No Right To Marry”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    A traditional marriage is a polygamist relationship. Historicly polygamy was the norm in many parts of the world. xians who say that the bible says that marriage is between one man and one woman should read the book of First Kings because it says that Soloman had 700 wives and 300 concubines. So according to the bible it was ok for a man to have not just 2 or 3 wives but 700 and 300 sexual partners on the side who were not his wives. Have you noticed that the marriage debate is taking place in the Western part of the world and not in the East? According to the Head of State of Iran ther are no homosexuals in Iran.

    • Kelly NormanNo Gravatar says:

      No where does it say that God sanctioned polygamy. He just tolerated it. Modern readers often have trouble with the Old Testament because it basically doesn’t embrace the “Great Man” theory (the New Testament would, except to those of us χians who believe in the Trinity). Torah “heroes” all have a lot of warts…possibly to remind readers (or listeners in the temple) that only God is God. Regardless, Jesus had a whole different take on polygamy that trumps anything in the Torah for χians.

    • DonnaNo Gravatar says:

      Generally the thing I have heard and seen as law says “a man and a woman,” and people just mentally add “one” in place of “a” because we are so familiar with that form. So Solomon had 300 marriages, each one between a man (Solomon) and a woman (whatever her name is). The wives relationships with each other were irrelevant, because they were only involved in their own marriage to Solomon. So Christians who speak carefully use this distinction of “a” instead of “one.” I would also say that the Biblical ideal points to the first couple–Adam & Eve, and is also seen in others like Noah, etc. So in the beginning it was one man and one woman, and then it got messed up (polygamy, although even some of that, like the leverite marriage system, protected vulnerable widows), and now we are still sorting through it.

      I really enjoyed this article… and while I do not consider myself an anarchist, I agree that getting the government out of the marriage definition would help, as a single I do not appreciate the tax discrimination, and I definitely think inheritance taxes are ridiculous (immoral)!

  2. Corry Neil KnightNo Gravatar says:

    Fantastic article, years of my own personal sentiment put into words.

  3. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    Knocked it out of the park!!!!!!

    Wow! There has been so much written about this topic, and yet all of your points are original and more relevant than anything else I’ve ever read. I wish I could verbalize these points as well as you’ve written them! I wish everybody would read this!

    Stellar article!!

  4. MAMNo Gravatar says:

    Whilst I appreciate the article I wrote an article where I pointed out the whole begging for permission thing several months ago, so I wouldn’t really consider it an original point. That being said I don’t really care about IP so whatever.

    Anyway as a Muslim how do you come down on this whole gay marriage thing? Isn’t it a tenet of the Desert God to have some sort of hatred for gays?

    Furthermore how many anarchists do you know who are Muslims Davi? Just bein nosy.

    I actually considered getting ordained on-line just so I could preform these sorts of marriages even though I don’t believe in deities and I’m not really a fan of religion. Turns out the latter two points out weighed my commitment to ignoring the law.

    • Davi BarkerNo Gravatar says:

      You’re under the impression you came up with the idea of calling license applications “begging for permission” several months ago? Are you also under the impression you came up with the idea of getting ordained online to perform unorthodox wedding ceremonies? Because I did that in 2003, specifically to marry my friend Yoni to his guitar (Don’t ask don’t tell).

      This article is my take on the whole gay marriage thing. As for the Desert God, I honestly don’t know. I’ll ask Him next time I see Him.

      I wouldn’t say I know very many Anarchist Muslims. I used to part of a fairly large group, but we had a falling out over economics and affirmative action. These days I mostly find minarchist libertarian type Muslims, and lefty greeniac type Muslims. I still find enough full blown Voluntaryists to have an active social life. But then there’s a selection bias.

      • MAMNo Gravatar says:

        No I’m not under the impression that I came up with those. Maybe it’s do to that nature of text but you seem to be taking that personally. I just mentioned that because Seth said that it was original…

        I’m not sure if you’ve ever read Neil Stephenson’s “Anathem” but if you have I’m a Lorite, in other words I don’t think that there are any original ideas.

        Don’t take what I said personal because it ain’t.

        Peace be with you.

        • Davi BarkerNo Gravatar says:

          I apologize. I was fresh out of an IP argument and a little on edge I guess. I haven’t read Anathem, but hugely enjoyed Snow Crash. That’s a fantastic term though. The idea of a completely original idea has always struck me as imaginary.

  5. ShawnNo Gravatar says:

    I didn’t write this article, but if I did, it would say the same thing. 🙂

  6. GayMarriageProponentsNo Gravatar says:

    “We demand to be enslaved to the same extent as heterosexuals!”
    – gay people demanding marriage

  7. BrodieNo Gravatar says:

    Very interesting information. To be clear, I am for marriage equality (including polygamists, homosexuals, heterosexuals, and any other marriage). However, I would prefer ending the state.

  8. Sima QianNo Gravatar says:

    Fantastic article! I like that it points out the source of the conflict is the state, and I didn’t realize that the roots of marriage licensing in the US was racism, though I should have guessed. Marriage should be either whatever a person’s religion says it is or whatever people freely negotiate.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      Roots of a federal minimum wage in the USA also are because of racism. Labor union leaderd didn’t like the fact that Black workers were willing to work for less pay than White workers and believed that they were “taking” jobs from Whites. A minimum wage they believed would prevent Black workers from worker for less pay than White workers.


  9. EBoundingNo Gravatar says:

    As a Christian this is probably one of the best articles I’ve read regarding the subject. Only God should have jurisdiction over marriage, not the State. If Christian Conservatives were truly concerned about marriage and the family, their goal would be to get government out of their marriages.

    Some libertarians say we need government involvement in marriage or else it will make the government more intrusive. But this just encourages the state to continue to make the absurd and intrusive laws. All a marriage license does is cover up these laws and makes your marriage (including your children) a product of the State. To me that’s much more destructive than a gay couple’s opinion on the definition of marriage.

    • MAMNo Gravatar says:

      How in the hell would getting government out of marriage make it more intrusive? Seems like bullshit to me.

      • EBoundingNo Gravatar says:

        They say that it makes dividing property more complicated because of things like the gift tax.

        But the problem isn’t a lack of government-marriages, the problem is the tax itself.

        • MAMNo Gravatar says:

          The problem is government itself.

          Dividing property, I’ve never got that. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never lived with a girlfriend but all the relationships I’ve had have been fairly cut and dry with reasonable women.

  10. RothbardianNo Gravatar says:

    My wife and I had a “state-free” wedding May 25th, 2009, facilitated by one of our best friends, surrounded by our other ancap/voluntaryist/agorist and alt lifestyle friends in the living room of another friend’s B&B. Many of the attendees said it was the best wedding they had ever attended.

    She was quite upset when I first told her that I didn’t want to marry her in the traditional sense. She took it to mean that I didn’t want a long-term relationship with her. It took a good bit of discussion for her to understand that I didn’t want to include an unwanted party in our relationship.

    One of our vows is that we recognize the need to commit ourselves to our marriage everyday and that at anytime, the other party can decide they no longer want to be party to the relationship. We work on our relationship continually, and it is all the stronger for it. Part of that is recognizing that the other person’s time is their own and they share it out of love. We do not own the other.

    At the same time, we have created private contracts (health directives, powers of attorney, etc.) that grant us clearer entitlement to making decisions for the other than just about any other married couple you can find.

    We are not the only state-free couple we know, further proof that people are beginning to realize that this fiction has no place in their lives.

  11. pwhitecomm333No Gravatar says:

    This is the most interesting article that I have read on a debate that has always appeared to be in a quite simplified form. One of the most compelling arguments here is the idea that because the current movement for same sex marriage is only pushing for equality for same sex couples, rather than incestual or polygamous couples, it is therefore pushing for a privilege to a select group, not a right for all people.

    An article discussing the same topic from a more strictly conservative standpoint at onservatism points out that the redefinition of marriage inherently calls for an expansion of government, as it will require a new definition of what it means to be a parent.

    After reading this article, it becomes clear that the most “conservative” approach of all would be to have no definition of marriage, and therefore eliminate the role of the government in that part of its citizen’s rights.

    There’s a lot of interesting paradoxes in this debate that become apparent when we look beyond the over-simplified representations of it we get, coming from each extreme side.

  12. Sharon-RitaNo Gravatar says:

    Thank-you so much for that wonderful clarification and bringing it right back to the “who” that is the great divider in our country. The faux government. I love that simplification.

  13. punkNo Gravatar says:

    No state, no government, no marriage! Two or more people can live together without state or church license for this.

    • Sharon-RitaNo Gravatar says:

      or in a contract in any form of word they so chose or in common law which recognizes living together for seven years or more legally binding.

    • Sharon-RitaNo Gravatar says:

      and the church does not license marriage is a covenant that one man and one woman enter into with our lord as the head as a sacred vocation in life the church does not license