Like ‘banning marriage’ is a bad thing?

Like ‘banning marriage’ is a bad thing?

It’s funny to see the reaction in the MSM and left-wing blogosphere to a legislative proposal in Oklahoma, which would get the state out of the business of licensing marriage:

UPI:  “To keep same-sex marriage illegal, Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ban on all marriages

ThinkProgress: “Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants to Ban All Marriages

NewsOK/News 9: “Oklahoma lawmakers consider preventing ALL marriage to keep same-sex marriage illegal

HuffPo: “Oklahoma Lawmakers Consider Preventing All Marriage: Report

I mean, they say that like it’s a bad thing.

Now, the truth about the Oklahoma marriage bill in question is that it wouldn’t “ban” or “prevent” marriage; it would just recuse the state from administering it.  People would still be able to get married, and to consider themselves just as married as they want to be. But they would have no expectation of their union being licensed by the state of Oklahoma.

Of course, there would be some legal problems to work out in implementing such a law.  One is created by the U.S. federal tax code, since presumably many Oklahomans would want to be able to file their income tax returns as “married filing jointly.”  Without a state-recognized marriage, it’s not clear how that would be done.  Nor is it immediately foreseeable what impact the Oklahoma bill would have on honoring marriage contracts concluded in the other states, or vice versa.

There is the especially important question of how traditional marriage and the natural children arising from it would be privileged in law as they have always been – and properly so – if the state isn’t the licensing authority for marriage.  This isn’t an issue only when the children are minors, although it would probably arise most often over cases of divorce and child support. The state would have some public-welfare role in overseeing these family consequences, even if it didn’t adjudicate the divorces per se.   But inheritance laws, especially when someone dies intestate, would come into it as well.

There would be questions; it’s not a silly proposal, but it wouldn’t necessarily be quick and simple to implement either.  What’s humorous, though, is the huff it has put the left into.  They can’t discuss it calmly, in the actual terms in which it has been proposed.  They have to misrepresent it, writing as if anything that isn’t licensed by the state has been “banned,” no matter how much of it is going on unhindered.

That is just silly.  But the significant question is still left: what difference, at this point, does it make, whether the state licenses marriage or not?  Why should that matter to the left?  Why should we care that it matters to them?  What case can they make about it that obligates others in any way?

If marriage may be anything anybody likes, after all, there’s no point in having the state license it.  Why shouldn’t people be free to consecrate and recognize marriage as they like, without applying to state government?  Why should the state bind any citizen to recognize another citizen’s marriage?

If, as the Grammys urged us to believe last night, same-sex marriage is about love – the “same love” as traditional marriage – what argument can there be for the state imposing on us to recognize whom other people love?  What a deeply silly proposition.  Outside of our circles of friends and family, who cares whom other people love?  That’s a preoccupation for teenagers in high school cliques.  It’s personal and discretionary; quite separate from legal and even social obligations.  The state, for its part, has zero interest in the matter.

Once we pull the props out from under marriage, the importance of licensing it evaporates.  It’s not our need for marriage that looks questionable; it’s our need for the state to say who’s married and who isn’t.  Funny how that works.


J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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