The History of Marriage
Part 6 of the
Libertarian Case for
The history of marriage does not include people of the same sex. One argument we hear in favor of redefining marriage is this:
"Marriage is evolving."
Some might argue that the greater social acceptance of same sex relationships is part of the evolution of the marriage institution. This new way of thinking says that society should adapt to these new realities and decisions made by individuals.
This statement is seductive, because it is partially true. Unlike in the past, people are now free to have sex with whomever they want, move in with whomever they want, buy a house with whomever they want, leave their property to whomever they want. Mothers are free to make adoption plans for their children.
All these activities are being chosen more frequently by same sex couples than ever before. It is important to remember that all of these activities can be handled by contracts, an extremely flexible institution that has adapted to these new social situations. Same sex couples could even give each other permission to adopt each other’s children as a way of sharing parental rights.
But all these contractual activities taken together do not add up to marriage. To change the institution of marriage requires specific legal action by the state. Recall that man/woman marriage is pre-political. It’s also naturally self sustaining due to the inherent procreative aspect. This new institution, one that allows couples of the same sex to marry, requires the state to define it, precisely because it is not self-sustaining.
Redefining marriage to include couples of the same sex is an expansion of the state’s power. Libertarians are normally against expansion of the state. We fear that many Libertarians are hiding behind the "privatizing marriage" argument in an attempt to avoid taking a stand on this issue. But privatizing marriage is not the answer; furthermore, it is naïve to think that government will remove itself from marriage.
This is part 6 of our series, The Libertarian Case for Man/Woman Marriage Other parts are located here:
Part 1: What is the definition of marriage?
Part 2: What is marriage and why do we need it?
Part 3: Gay Marriage Facts
Part 4: Marriage equality creates new inequalities
Part 5: Marriage Laws: How Should the State View Marriage?
Part 6: History of Marriage (you are here)
Part 7: Gay Marriage means Genderless Marriage
Part 8: Government and Marriage
Return to the home page: History of Marriage