Once again, the issue of same-sex marriage has awoken from its three and a half year hibernation cycle, and graced us with its presence during this 2012 election season. Last week, President Obama made the announcement that he believes “same-sex couples should be able to get married.” One thing the President did not mention was of the top ten most important issues facing this country, same-sex marriage does not make the list.
The federal government is over fifteen trillion dollars in debt, the U.S. military is stationed in over 130 countries around the world, the dollar is losing its value faster and faster, and yet voters and public officials are arguing about whether or not two men can get married to one another.
As it happens, both sides of the same-sex marriage issue are fundamentally wrong in their approach. Supporters and critics of same-sex marriage both start with the assumption that government needs to regulate marriage. The problem with this premise is that marriage is a private institution and it is often times religious in nature.
Regardless of the nature of a marriage, it is not up to the discretion of the federal government to interfere with such a personal relationship. Regulating relationships between consenting adults is an act of government overreach. This should also apply to heterosexual marriages as well. Many people forget that it was government involvement in marriage that made it possible to ban inter-racial marriages. No matter what kind of relationship an individual desires, heterosexuals have just as much right to not be interfered with as homosexuals do.
The government’s primary responsibility is to defend our rights and to uphold the Constitution. When the government chooses to regulate the institution of marriage it shirks those responsibilities. Marriage is a voluntary association between consenting adults which hurts no one else and should not be regulated by the federal government.
No where in the Constitution does it mention anything about marriage. According to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, any power that is not explicitly given to the federal government in the Constitution is reserved for the people and/or the states. This means that if marriage is to be regulated at all, it needs to be handled at the local level.
Not only is marriage a personal and private issue, but it is also a religious institution as well. The First Amendment expressly forbids the the government from regulating religion which in turn prohibits the government from regulating marriage. To prevent an individual from marrying the person they wish is just as wrong as compelling someone to pray a certain way or keeping them from attending a specific church. Regulating marriage is not only unconstitutional, it is also morally and ethically wrong as well.
Another one of the few constitutional responsibilities of the government in a free society is to enforce private contracts between individuals or groups. Often times a marriage is accompanied by some sort of legal contract. If two (or more) consenting adults enter into a contract with one another, it is not the business of the government to deny those particular individuals that right.
When it comes to the issue of marriage, conservatives should be philosophically opposed to government regulation of such a private institution. Ironically, it is the so-called conservatives who advocate for more government interference in marriage. So-called conservatives have become proponents of more regulation, less privacy, and less religious freedom. While social conservatives lament over the sanctity of marriage, they overlook the true cause of the problem. Homosexuality is not a threat to the sanctity of marriage. The real threat is government.