Government involvement in marriage violates rights
Given two recent court rulings concerning marriage in Utah, both declaring Utah marriage bans unconstitutional, I wish to discuss the problems of having government involved in marriage.
The problem with government involvement in the marriage process is that it allows government to violate a plethora of our rights as individuals, organizations and businesses. Among those violated is our right of association, our contractual rights, our right of conscience/religious rights - especially our First Amendment religious rights - and our right to control our honestly acquired property, including businesses. I will highlight how our religious rights and our property rights are violated when government is involved in marriage in the aforementioned ways.
Allowing government to decide what is and is not an “officially recognized” marriage, or allowing government to define “marriage,” is in effect giving the state the power to make laws respecting an establishment of religion, which is constitutionally prohibited. Here’s how it breaks down: Marriage has always been a religious institution first and foremost and has only involved the civil power in countries that have state religions or in countries that have separation of church and state but have sought to forbid marriages between certain individuals, mostly upon unjust discriminatory grounds. Today, there still remains a firm foundation of religion in the marriage equation. In the eyes of the LDS religion, marriage predates human government and is solely a thing between the married man and woman and God. Mormons believe any marriage not ordained of God and performed in His way will not be binding in the afterlife, no matter how many human governments sanction it. Religion is still a part of the marriage issue. Upon religious matters, government may not speak nor act. But when government can decide who may and may not “marry” by requiring official government sanction of marriage via required government “marriage licenses,” government is in effect given power to define what is and what is not an official “marriage,” religiously, which means they are dictating by law a religious belief, telling religions and religious individuals what they must accept and not accept and believe religiously as pertaining to “marriage.”
When government says “marriage is A” but a certain religion says, “To us, marriage is only B,” government is in effect saying to that religion that they must believe marriage to be either BOTH A and B, or ONLY A if government has banned “marriage B.” Such laws respect the establishment of religion, creating the scaffolding for a state religion in establishing state religious tenets for everyone to believe. We’ve started to see those government religious tenets forced upon individuals contrary to their own religious beliefs in both Colorado and New Mexico.
Government involvement in marriage also gives the state the power to prohibit people and religious groups from practicing their religion freely, meaning some are forbidden from “marrying” individuals according to their religious beliefs and/or having their contractual relationship recognized by the state as an official contract because it doesn’t meet the government definition of a “marriage.” Government even criminally penalizes those that practice their religious definition of “marriage” even when no one’s rights are violated simply because it goes against government’s definition of “marriage.”
Government involvement in marriage also destroys one’s right to control his property, including business, via anti-dis- crimination laws that extend to private businesses. These anti-discrimination laws prevent business owners from discriminating against certain classes of people deemed “protected” by government, both in the hiring and firing process and in service toward customers while allowing other forms of discrimination. These laws were born out of the 20th century civil rights movement, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Supreme Court case Heart of Atlanta Motel vs. United States, which had good intentions in eradicating government discrimination yet harmed property rights in extending to private property owners too.
What supporters of these laws are in effect claiming is that they have a right either to the service of the owner or his business’s goods, which are both his property and his alone. One of course has a right to the owner’s goods/services if he has formed a voluntary contract with the owner and provides compensation for the goods/service, but he has no right to a contract with the owner against the owner’s consent, regardless of the reason, nor has he the right to force the owner into a contract via law. This is what current anti-discrimination laws do to private businesses. If government can step in and dictate to the owner of the business, which is his property and his alone (in theory at least), how he must control his property, including to whom he must enter into business contracts with, no matter the reason, it cannot be said that he truly owns and controls the property. In such a situation, the government has forced its way into his business as a dictatorial partner without the owner’s consent. Such is our situation in America. We have no true private property; we only have quasi-socialized property in America, joint ownership between private individuals/groups and government.