There has been a great deal of discussion online lately about whether gay marriages should be allowed, or whether the Federal Marriage Amendment should be passed, etc.
My opinion (the reasonable one, of course) is that there’s no good reason to deny homosexuals the legal benefits of marriage nor the social recognition of their relationships.
But, the larger issue that this brings up is: Why is this a legal issue at all? Why should the government be in the business of deciding whether or not to promote or disparage particular relationships? Is that really required to secure liberty?
A lot of these controversial issues (e.g. teaching Creationism along with Evolution in schools) are only problems because the state has gone way beyond its proper scope. The government should set up the minimum framework required to protect people from force and fraud and otherwise leave people free to define and pursue their own relationships, values, etc.
I understand that many legal issues (e.g. inheritance, immigration, child custody, forced testimony, etc.) hinge on whether there is a special relationship between people and we use marriage as a surrogate for these. It’s an easy “bright line” to test for that makes enforcement simpler. But these issues can be resolved by appropriate contracts and tests to satisfy the requirements of each situation.
We should be past the days when all of people’s religious values have to be enshrined in the law.
I realize that many traditions encapsulate a lot of knowledge, but why do they have to be defined legally? If some groups want to recognize some relationships as “marriage” and not others, let them set up private organizations to grant their official seal of approval (as with Kosher foods) and leave the government out of it.