I have argued as a Christian and in a libertarian vein, that the Eurocentric state should NEVER have been involved in defining marriage in the first place and that THAT reality is at the root of the current social problem and debate. “Marriage” in my mind, however defined, began as and should always have been a private, secular thing left to God and conscience and personal choices. The only thing the state should have done is recognize whatever the secular realm accepted AS a marriage for purposes of taxation or inheritance or whatever needed to be done there. The problem is that at an earlier period of state formation, the US never had true separation of church and state (many of the English colonies for example were essentially theocracies or at least deist) and that led to the state defining the legitimacy of marriage on behalf of the secular church, which I do not believe to have ever been constitutional. That leads directly to the conflict in the present where in order to include people in the benefits of the state as citizens (which is not really contested), you then have to change the definition of marriage and that impacts on secular religion (contested). If the state got out of the business of defining marriage period, in effect, all marriages would be “seen” as civil unions by the state, which in my mind is what they are, politically. Any citizen could constitute a civil union with whomever they wish (in terms of reason like age) and then the state would just recognize that. That would allow marriage to be secular and eliminate EITHER citizens being denied their rights or the state telling religious people how they have to define or redefine their own marriages. Whenever the state steps into private matters, in my mind, it’s bad news. Shoot, half the time when the state steps in PUBLIC matters its bad news, so we know if the government starts defining marriage and family, we are ALL in trouble.
My position on this was honed during the study of the 60s where the state in its war on poverty tried to “save” the family with a definition of family that decimated Afrikan families and many lower income ones, externalized men as husbands and fathers, and generally wreaked chaos. That analysis tells me that if the government is defining your family, your marriage, and what it should be, things are always out of order. A government is a political institution and a collective one and so it’s interests are not your personal interests but the collective interests of those who control that government at any particular point in time. That by definition, is not the same as, or even necessarily consistent with your own interests and certainly not your personal life so it is vital that government stay out of those things.
I support marriage in principle, obviously, as a Christian. But I believe its definition to be and that it must be secular, and in my case rooted in God’s instruction. Others may believe otherwise and I respect their alternative beliefs. That does not become a problem socially until you try to force my belief on them or vice versa. Instead why not have the state step out of this altogether and say whatever your secular belief, our purpose is not to promote it but merely to ensure proper dispensation of legitimate state duties. This is why I support universal civil unions for any citizen by their definition (within reason again-don’t want pedophiles having unions with 6 year olds or something like that). That allows anyone to have whatever private, secular definition of marriage they choose and to live their lives without state-based and mandated discrimination.
It is, in my mind, none of the state’s business who I marry. It IS their business to know who I want my social security death benefits to go to, and I can tell them.