Why do we Need the State to Give Us a Marriage License Anyway?

Marriage-CertificateI’ve followed the Kim Davis story with moderate interest and most people seem to think there are two sides to the issue. I disagree. I think there is a third point of view that makes the first two irrelevant.

Why do we need the government to issue a license for two willing, legally competent, adults to sign a contract? Why? I ask a third time because it is the most important question in all of this. Why?

If you come to the conclusion that the answer is simply, “We don’t.” You have solved the entire problem.

Those who believe, like Davis, that it’s immoral won’t have to sign such a license because it won’t exist. Those who believe that state employees must carry out their duties without regards to their religion won’t have to worry about it because one of those jobs won’t be issuing marriage licenses.

Why is the state involved in marriage at all? The argument boils down largely to social engineering. It is to the benefit of the state to encourage marriage because society is stronger when it has more stable family units. That may or may not be true but it’s not within the realm of power of the state to encourage or discourage a private contract of this nature.

If two people want to get married, if three people are in a group relationship and want to get married, if two men want to get married, if a brother and sister want to get married; I see no justification for the state needing to issue a license. I know people won’t like that last example and I’m willing to begrudgingly agree that the state can make certain marriages illegal, but even then, if the state has agreed to make it legal, why do they need to issue a license?

If two or more legally competent people sign a contract stating they are married, that’s that. No more problem. No more Kim Davis. No more Constitutional debate. If it turns out later the contract is invalidated by law, say one contractor was underage, then the marriage is invalid. What benefit is there in having the state “license” a marriage?

You tell me.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition
Next Release: The Gray Horn


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