Saturday, October 22, 2005

Certificate of Morality

I have an idea that would end all for once the same sex marriage debate. The main issue with gay right activists is the fact that the government is not issuing marriage certificate to homosexuals who are in a committed relationship – and they want the same privilege extend to them. However I have another solution that better serve gay and straight people. That the government should stop issuing marriage certificates altogether – whether to gay or to straight people.

Let examine the extrinsic value of the marriage certificate.

(1) It cannot be traded like stock and bond certificate.
(2) It does not give one’s ownership, such as car title, house title, patent or trademark.
(3) It is not a license that grants you certain privilege like driving, opening a restaurant, or practicing a profession (like professional license).
(4) It is not even a contract which states clearly who has to do what and what the obligation each person has.

It in fact has no extrinsic value. It does not even have a utilitarian value. At least with other certificates such as birth and death, they are useful. The birth certificate proves that one exists, death certificate prove that one ceases to exist, they are therefore helpful as census so the government can plan their economic policy. Some say that it provides inheritance right, visiting right and other so called right pertaining to children and spouse.

But it does poorly that these function too. Marriage law differs from one locality to another. If the couple moves, then expectation and obligation concerning marriage will change. Marriage certificate fails to provide clear obligation, duty and right. It does not enumerate these things. All those things depend not on the marriage certificate itself, but on local laws which there are fifty of them. In fact a contract is better served for such a purpose. It enumerates clearly the obligation, duty, and right. Since it states in plain text, the meaning is the same wherever one go.

Then why is such a thing exists despite providing no extrinsic or utilitarian value? The marriage certificate is nothing but a moral certificate. The government through the control of such certificate is defining the moral values, which activities are moral and which are not. Those they grant marriage certificate to, they approve of their morality. Those they refuse to grant marriage certificates to, they deem immoral.

In the interest of individual liberty, we need to remove the government from the moral defining function and give that function back to the rightful owners: the individuals, the families, the communities (which they free associate), and the churches which they freely choose. It is the family, the community, and the church which an individual belong to and has emotional tie with - not the government. The government has no personal relationship with a person to play a role in his or her private life. The government is at best a benign faceless bureaucracy and at worst an oppressive and intruding leviathan.

They should not be allowed to make moral judgment. Of course, for now, the harm from government issued marriage certificate is abstract and not concrete. The government has not cracked down on people activities. Nobody is hauled to jail. Nobody is even monetarily fined – whether they are heterosexuals living outside of marriage or homosexuals who practice their orientation. But the justification for sanction is already there – waiting to be used. It is true that it is very unlikely to punish those they deem unworthy of a marriage certificate. But one must keep in mind the government has and is punishing activities that harm no one – what we call victimless crime - this range from cancer ridden patients who smoke marijuana to women who choose to sell their sexual services. So it is improbable but not impossible.

Regardless whether you find these activities (homosexual marriage, marijuana, prostitution) offensive or acceptable, you do not want to involve the government. It is better that you accomplish your goal through persuading your fellow citizens from such activities – rather than calling in the government. Because once you give the government the right to crack down on activities you deem offensive, they may start to crack down on activities you find acceptable – perhaps even activities you cherish.

With that in mind, let empower yourself, your family, your community, and your religious institution by supporting an end to government exclusive control of marriage certificate. Gay activists, in the interest of their own liberty, should stop asking the government to grant them marriage license. They are simply putting themselves into a position of subservience. They should instead ask that the government stopped granting the absurd certificate of morality altogether and be free from the grip of the leviathan.

NOTE: There are those who will interpret this essay as an opposition to the institution of marriage (it has happened before). It is not the case. The opposite is true. I value the institution of marriage and value it so much that I want it to be free from the government.

12 Comments:

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4:27 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Let examine the extrinsic value of the marriage certificate.

...

(2) It does not give one’s ownership, such as car title, house title, patent or trademark.


As somebody who has gone through a divorce, I can't state that this assertion is exactly correct. Having a marriage license with another individual certainly entitles the two persons to some portion of the other's assets where there aren't prenuptial agreements installed, both in the event of a divorce and/or in the event of a death of a spouse.

If fact, health benefits that are available to spouses through employers coupled with legal status with respect to assets in the event of death are probably the two biggest items that homosexual couples would like rectified.

With respect to the idea that the government is issuing a moral certificate - I don't know if that is even the correct way to look at it. As you say, there are 50 states and 50 different types of marriage certificates, but the local laws aren't consistent with legislating morality (in general). For instance, I would guess that even after being issued a marriage license in most states it is not illegal to have an affair.

Another thought to ponder -- if we ask the government to stay out of marriage, where would you draw the line? Since we would like to break down the barrier of sex in defining a marriage, would you be comfortable with breaking down the barrier of number of spouses in marriage (poligamy), or even (please forgive this crass example) allowing marriage between species?

9:26 PM  
Blogger Ogre said...

Also, on some level, the state has a vested interest in marriage -- the state really needs procreation to exist.

I know that not all married people procreate, but that's the primary reason the state can give to be involved.

In addition, there's some matter of public safety there in the checking of blood for diseases and some compatibility issues. If there's no marriage license, can people marry their first cousins and procreate? That would be a bad thing for the state.

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