MONTGOMERY, Ala. (March 15, 2016) A bill that would abolish marriage licenses in Alabama and effectively nullify both sides of the contentious debate on same-sex marriage passed an important committee earlier this month and the full Senate today. If passed into law, the bill would essentially remove the state from the business of marriage.
Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Bay Minette) introduced Senate Bill 143 (SB143) in February. The legislation would abolish all requirements to obtain a marriage license in Alabama. Instead, probate judges would simply record civil contracts of marriage between two individuals based on signed affidavits.
“All requirements to obtain a marriage license by the State of Alabama are hereby abolished and repealed. The requirement of a ceremony of marriage to solemnized the marriage is abolished.”
This is the way to solve the gay marriage / marriage issue.
The problem? People on both sides want to use the force of government to impose their views.
Some social conservatives feel they have a right to live in a society which defines marriage as one man/one woman.
Some social liberals reply by saying, “I have a right to live in a society which celebrates diversity and tolerance.”
Actually, neither has a right to any such thing.
The only legitimate right any of us can have is a right to take action. We have rights to take action in whatever manner we please, so long as we do not harm the physical property or life of another.
This is how you objectively define law. The problem is that in today’s world, most things – including laws – are defined not objectively, as this Alabama law is, but as feelings.
“I feel uncomfortable and disgusted about gay marriage. Therefore, I have a right to ensure that my government never marries two gay people.”
Or: “I feel I have a right to live in a world filled with diversity and tolerance. Government must mandate my feeling.”
And then there’s the subject of benefits. That’s the # 1 excuse I hear for government being allowed to define marriage. “Government defines health insurance and other benefits; so government has to define what a family is, so we will know who the beneficiaries are.”
This might make sense in a socialist or Communist society, where government controls all private enterprises and agreements. But it has no place whatsoever in a free society.
Benefits should not be the product of the government, any more than marriage. In the private market, benefits are properly negotiated between two willing parties, e.g. employer and employee. Long before gay marriage became legal anywhere, many private businesses who already had spousal benefits gladly extended those benefits to their same-sex couple employees. It was in their interest to keep their good employees who happened to be gay. Even today, other businesses choose not to do so, because it violates their personal beliefs. It should all be worked out by voluntary consent, in the market, not by some one-size-fits-all government edict.
Getting government out of the marriage licensing business means getting the government out of defining marriage. The Alabama law is a positive step in that direction. It’s neither pro-gay nor bigoted. It’s neutral.
Yet that neutrality is the very thing most on the left or the right cannot stand.
The type of people who become activists are the ones defining the debate. Neither right-wing nor left-wing activists can stand the idea of neutrality from government. They want government to adopt and impose their own point-of-view. They’re like little children; government, to such activists, are like mommy and daddy. They want mommy and daddy to approve their own attitudes about things. Indeed, they feel entitled to Big Mommy or Big Daddy government’s seal of approval. This is what fuels their activism.
But that’s not what government is for. Government is very important. But government only exists to uphold rights for consenting, peaceful adults. The rest, like moral or psychological perspectives on marriage, is for people to work out on their own. Nobody is entitled to have his or her opinion upheld by government, just because it’s one’s opinion.
Grow up activists; and grow up, America.
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