Monday, November 26, 2007

WHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry?

I doWHY do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families. The parents’ agreement to the match, not the approval of church or state, was what confirmed its validity.

For 16 centuries, Christianity also defined the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s wishes. If two people claimed they had exchanged marital vows — even out alone by the haystack — the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.

In 1215, the church decreed that a “licit” marriage must take place in church. But people who married illictly had the same rights and obligations as a couple married in church: their children were legitimate; the wife had the same inheritance rights; the couple was subject to the same prohibitions against divorce.

Not until the 16th century did European states begin to require that marriages be performed under legal auspices. In part, this was an attempt to prevent unions between young adults whose parents opposed their match.

Read more


Anonymous said...

I think people need to make up their minds. Marriage is either a religious institution, or a civil one. If it's civil, any 2 consenting adults should be allowed to do it, and should get the tax breaks, etc. that legally married couples now get in the U.S. Religion would have no say in it.

If it is a religious ceremony, so be it. But couples receive no tax breaks or special considerations, and religions have the final say in who is allowed to marry.

Anonymous said...

crap... went to vegas and told them we wanted to redo our wedding vows (just to ride in a limo)... we were not married the first time...later I found an Married the right person for me, so does this mean I have two wifes???

John said...

As a libertarian, I'd love to be able to privatize marriage, but it just isn't possible. Marriage could be restricted to religious institutions, but divorce would inevitably involve the state.

Any contract that would lead to divorce must involve the state somehow.