The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that gay marriage is a constitutionally protected right on Friday. The 5-4 decision removed bans from the remaining 14 states that refused to grant gay marriage licenses.
Liberals see the gay marriage legalization as a huge victory. Though it should be noted that Obama was a gay marriage opponent just a few years ago. Conservatives see the ruling as a big loss. What about a Libertarian? Well, my answer to the question is a little more complex than simply agreeing or disagreeing with the ruling.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote a fiery dissent in which he said the Constitution was not a factor in the court’s decision. Scalia’s dissent was worth the read as well, so you may want to go check that out after you’re done reading this. Justice Scalia talked about more than just the ruling, and even took jabs at the court itself.
“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.“
As someone who identifies as a libertarian, I wondered straightaway what the libertarian position would be on the ruling. If you research the libertarian view on legalizing gay marriage, most are for it, while some others are against it. I came to my own conclusion quite rapidly, actually before researching the topic.
I think someone who loves liberty should view the Supreme Court’s latest major ruling with a level of indifference. And I don’t mean that in a rude or uncaring way. I hope you allow me to explain my thinking.
Quite clearly, I think, the Constitution does not allow the judicial system to create new laws, or redefine an institution that wasn’t created by a government in the first place. So, on that front, I believe the Supreme Court overstepped. And let me be clear, I don’t believe same-sex couples should be treated differently by the government. I just feel that the way the government went about fixing the issue was undemocratic.
Back to the indifference point. I said a libertarian should feel at least somewhat indifferent to the ruling because the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at any level. So the fact that the government now recognizes gay marriage may be a good thing when it comes to citizens being treated equally under the law. But on the other hand, the government really shouldn’t be involved in marriages like they currently are.
Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Hinkle had the following to say back in 2011 on the issue of gay marriage.
“Frankly, the idea that someone’s legal rights should depend on whether they’ve entered a government-approved relationship ought to be repugnant to all of us.”
Obviously, Mr. Hinkle is advocating for the acceptance of gay marriage by the U.S. government. As a Libertarian, Mark is also making the point that the fact that the government controls the institution of marriage is gross. Marriage was not created by the government, so why do they think they can regulate it?
According to Libertarian thought, everyone should be treated fairly by the government. But, most Libertarians only want the government to exist to protect its citizens. Police, fire, emts are all important aspects of government, but beyond that, a true Libertarian craves nothing else from their government. So, being involved in marriages is not a Libertarian-approved government function.
To that end, sure, the government should issue marriage licenses to gay couples if it insists on issuing marriage licenses at all. I’m not trying to sound cliché but if the government issues marriage licenses to gay couples, they should also issue them to polygamous groups.
I’m not trying to sound like some stupid, fear mongering conservative, polygamy is clearly the next step. Anyone who supports gay marriage and opposes plural marriage is an extreme hypocrite. Even the very liberal Slate agrees that polygamy must be legalized.
So, let me try to break down the ruling in one paragraph. The government redefined something it never really had the right to define. The result was that a small minority of Americans are now able to receive marriage licenses in all 50 states. The ruling essentially means more short term liberties for the gay community, but a rather dangerous precedent has been set in the way that gay marriage was legalized. On this ruling, I honestly think the court forgot what its job was.