Letter: Why is the government in the marriage business?

Letter to the Editor

Why is the government in the marriage business? To listen to the marriage traditionalists and the gay-rights advocates, it would seem the natural, correct, and proper role of government is the policing of marriage. What?! ... and, who said so?

First, I dont think that marriage is a right: human, civil, or otherwise. Marriage is responsibility. Just ask any couple that are about to have a child.  Marriage is a right? Nah. It’s a big, big responsibility. Period.

There are some aspects of “relationships” that do touch on rights. Like the right to bequest your assets or identifying who can visit you when you are sick. In that respect, all people should be able to give their assets (like IRA accounts) to whom they wish, and the beneficiary should reap the tax benefit, if any (IRA accounts again) regardless of whether the parties are married on not. On visitation, a person should be able to select any visitors they wish. 

Put another way, we have rights not because of any chosen relationship; we have rights because we are persons, not because we are married or unmarried, regardless of its definition—so-called right that benefits the married then discriminates against the unmarried. And, have you noticed how many people are not married, but are in a committed relationship? Plenty.

Second, (and before I make this next point, please know that 1. I have been married for over 35 years, and 2. I have an academic degree in this topic): I think that marriage is a religious sacrament. It is not a governmental event at all. It never occurred to me that I was participating in a government sanctioned event when I got married. I did not think of if that way then, and I dont think of it that way now. In fact, I think that marriage is better and stronger when it reflects the deepest values, hopes, and commitment of the couple. And, what role does government have in all this?  No role at all.

So, what role does government have in marriage? If we cant think of an actual purpose government serves in this arena, shouldn’t we all agree on are our human (married or unmarried) rights and sunset government’s role in the marriage biz?

Herbert Hussey,