So http://dkva.net/wo5m-call-blocker-for-lumia/ A spy sweeper for iphone This mobile tracker per android When http://haciendajireh.com/ouas/phone-spy-samsung-2ak/ Skin http://heartofafiercewoman.com/spy-mobile-computer-yyn/.
FacebookTwitter

The Libertarian Case For Traditional Marriage

By on Jun 4, 2013 | 50 comments

Share On GoogleShare On FacebookShare On Twitter

Marriage and Family: The Lynchpin of Civil Society

One of the great calumnies against the libertarian movement is that it is anarchistic in nature, proselytizing for a world without any kind of governing system to restrain the will of the individual. This libel can be traced all the way back to Thomas Hobbes, who erected the straw man of a world without Leviathan in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” From then until the present day, the defenders of limited government and personal liberty have contended with an opposing narrative of a nightmarish “libertarian” world, replete with stock characters such as the robber baron and the Somali warlord.

As the readers of this site presumably know, this is ludicrous! Far from thirsting for a world of unchecked will and aggression, the true libertarian is a partisan of what Edmund Burke famously dubbed society’s “little platoons,” those local associations and organizations into which free men naturally congregate and that form the genuine lifeblood of a healthy, self-sustaining civil society.

It is within the context of these myriad and interlocking free associations — be they churches, school boards, town assemblies, fraternal lodges, etc. — that man is truly free to exercise self-governance in accord with his God-given dignity and liberty. The stronger these little platoons, the weaker the case for a strong and aggressive central government to fill in the societal gaps, real or supposed, that are left by them.

This being the case, it astounds this writer that so many libertarian pundits and activists are eager to toss aside the strongest and most vital of these platoons — that is, marriage and the natural family it supports. They favor a scheme which, if enacted, will serve only to further weaken civil society and is swiftly becoming the sole constant in the lives of our nation’s citizens: the State.

The Family: The Last Line of Defense Against State Power

It is an open secret that the State and the Family do not get along. As Leviathan grows, that which claims a greater hold on the minds, hearts, souls, and loyalties of its citizen-subjects becomes increasingly perceived as a threat to be neutralized or destroyed. After the sovereignty of the states and the prerogatives of local government have been bled dry, the family remains as the last line of defense between the naked exercise of state power over the will of the individual. It is a telling fact that in the widely varied dystopian fiction of the past century, a recurring element is the destruction of our understanding of the family. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, it has been replaced entirely by casual sex and cloning vats. In Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it clings to existence as a stud system more suitable to a barnyard than a free society. Perhaps most chillingly of all, in George Orwell’s 1984, the family retains the outward trappings of the institution we call by that name, but internally it has been perverted into the cruelest instrument of state surveillance ever devised.

These writers, and the dictators of totalitarian regimes the world over, understand that the Family is the greatest threat to the unchecked might of the State, for it is within the sanctity of the home that loyalties stronger than any flag can command are fostered. Minds, both young and old, are at liberty to develop free of the suffocating hand of political correctness and party line.

Traditional Marriage: The Secret of Familial Strength

Presently, our society is facing an unprecedented, albeit long in the works, threat to the strength and integrity of the family. Many libertarians have been sadly duped into fighting on the wrong side of the battle. As previously stated, there are many ways in which Man organizes himself in a free society, many grouping and associations into which he may enter. What defines his family, though, rests on our traditional understanding of marriage: one man and one woman coming together in a lifelong commitment out of which children may naturally arise. Now granted, for decades Western society has been doing a horrible job at living up to this ideal, but it is something in our collective psyche for which we continue to strive. Despite the tragic mundanity of divorce, we still do not refer to the aftermath as a “family,” but rather as a broken family or a broken home. We recognize that the ideal has been ruptured, and while we may not live up to it, we at least continue to respect it.

This could all change within the next generation. As an alternative to the traditional conception of marriage, two proposals have arisen. In the first, it has been proposed that marriage be altered in our legal code from one man and one woman to any two consenting adults. In the second — one favored by many libertarians — it has been proposed that our legal recognition of marriage be done away with entirely. Both proposals constitute folly and a threat to liberty.

Should marriage be defined in the law as the joining together of two consenting adults, full stop, it would fundamentally alter and weaken the concept of family. There exists, in the union of a man and a woman, an implicit understanding that children will arise out of this new-found partnership and that a whole new societal unit will be created. This is, indeed, the natural order of things. However, should the definition of marriage be expanded to cover instances where there is no such understanding, then marriage becomes just another contractual relationship between two adult members of society, albeit one infused with erotic and romantic love. If such contractual relationships gave rise to associations equal in strength and vitality to that of the family, then the whole idea of the family’s uniqueness and indispensability would be an alien one. Once traditional marriage is gone, the entire concept of the family becomes a vague and nebulous one. As with human and civil rights, that which is fuzzy and nebulous is that which is easy to erode and destroy.

In the “second way” proposed by many libertarians, this process is only accelerated. Not even the fig leaf of the word “marriage” remains; now adults really do simply enter into contractual agreements with one another, and the process of familial erosion is accelerated. Private conceptions of marriage and family may continue to exist — but without definition and recognition inside the legal code, one cannot expect that the State will honor the sanctity or inviolability of that which it does not acknowledge to exist in the first place.

Marriage and Society: A Truly Libertarian Vision

As a movement, libertarians must stand shoulder to shoulder in defending the last best hope that civil society possesses in resisting the onslaught of Leviathan. The Movement must not succumb to the leveling impulses of the Statists who would see marriage defined down and outward until said definition was so broad as to be rendered meaningless.

This is not the libertarian way.

One who loves liberty and true equality will not settle for a mundane sameness across society. Rather, he will celebrate the myriad diversity of how we gather and associate in friendship and love with our neighbors and fellow citizens. Yes, for the health of civil society and the defense of liberty, marriage must remain in its definition a limited institution that does not cover all committed, loving relationships.

Rather than weep over this and attempt to tear marriage down in the name of false concept of equality, let the libertarians of the world throw themselves into the work of building up and promoting other valuable and enriching institutions: friendship and neighborhood, local pride, and a truly universal fraternity of mankind.

One’s sense of worth and human dignity should not be predicated on a slip of paper from the county courthouse, but arise rather from the knowledge that we have the liberty and the support of those around us to find our own unique and irreplaceable spot within our particular platoon.

For more by Mike Gannon, visit his blog Distracted Catholic or follow him on Twitter (@MikeCGannon). 

The following two tabs change content below.
A Burkean and an avowed federalist, Mike Gannon stands opposed to levelers, Leviathans, Jacobins, ideologues, and innovators. He believes that liberty is best defended by firm faith, strong families, a rigorous social order, and a healthy sense of tradition. Mike lives and writes in rural Virginia. You can follow him on Twitter and find his personal blog at Distracted Catholic.

50 Comments

  1. Chelsea

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    So, in order to protect your family from the state, you would use the power of the state to harm my family?

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Far from it. What I propose is that, in order to protect everyone in society from the power of the state, the institution of marriage be preserved (and indeed, strengthened) in the form in which it has existed and functioned adequately for some centuries, while allowing for new and distinct social arrangements to freely arise among other members of society.

  2. Brian

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Enjoyable read, sir, but I can’t really square marriage laws with libertarianism. While I agree with you that marriage is vital to a society, I still don’t think it’s a vital function of the state.

    Put another way, I think if we all followed Christian teaching re: loving one’s neighbor, turning the other cheek, society would be infinitely better off. But enforcing that belief or behavior likewise should not be a project of the state.

    If America is going to work, free people have to freely make good choices. We need Tocqueville’s civil society to be strong and functioning, and government is civil society’s greatest enemy, inasmuch as it invades the space traditionally occupied by civil society and seeks to replace it with uniform, state-imposed moral codes.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Brian, you are absolutely correct, but I think that you are missing a key element here. Civil marriage laws as they currently stand do not strengthen the power of the state; rather, they serve to restrain state power from being exercising inside that which it absolutely must not: the family. Weakening marriage laws by watering them down into mere arrangements between individuals would serve ultimately to weaken the legal protections the family enjoys against state abuse.

      To put it another way, there is a kind of political judo at play. The power of the state, in the form of legal recognition and support of traditional marriage, is being turned by the body civic against the remaining power of the state, in order to allow civil society to more freely flourish.

  3. ZuiyoMaru

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    If you think – in any way – that “traditional” marriage is in any way a libertarian value, then you have completely failed to understand libertarianism. Let me break it down for you.

    See, libertariarianism is all about one thing, and it’s in the name – liberty. As much as many have tried to warp the philosophy into something it’s not, at its core libertarianism is about freedom. It you are truly concerned with free association, as you purport to be, then there is literally no argument you can make to justify an arbitrary definition of marriage such that it includes only a man and a woman.

    Your argument is full of holes; you assert the naturalistic fallacy that somehow, because heterosexual reproduction is “natural”, that it is somehow moral, despite the fact that marriage is not an institution that exists in nature. And how, indeed, is a nuclear family somehow more equipped to resist the tyranny of the state than any of these other voluntary associations? In fact, isn’t it the most voluntary association of all for two people to decide to raise a family together, regardless of the gender or adoptive status of all those involved?

    Ultimately, the only rational libertarian argument for marriage is one that allows the most freedom of individuals to associate as they choose, without regard as to their gender, orientation, or any other perceived differences. This then means that the ideal libertarian should support the abolition of marriage as an institution regulated by the government, or failing that, the changing of marriage in a regulatory context to allow all rational individuals to enter into relationships voluntarily.

    The argument you make, the one asserting that tradition somehow makes an institution more correct? That is a conservative argument. If you are a conservative, feel free to admit it, but keep in mind at all times that libertarian and conservative are in no way interchangeable, and in some ways incompatible. Your conservative argument is in many ways contrary to the libertarian philosophy you claim to support, but just calling yourself a libertarian does not make it so.

    • Brian

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      ZM, if I may play devil’s advocate: What about clearly libertarian policy preferences which will inevitably lead to outcomes hostile to liberty?

      I agree with you that marriage is not an issue for the state, but I also agree with our author that the family has always been an important bulwark against the state.

      By way of example, the libertarian position on immigration is generally one of open borders. But we can be fairly confident that open borders will lead to an increase in the size of the welfare state. So here is a libertarian policy which will almost necessarily lead to a less liberty-friendly outcome.

      Likewise, single parent households tend to increase demand on state services. Does this mean I support compulsory marriage? No. But I think it’s worth noting that, as long as we have a welfare state, libertarian positions won’t always lead to +liberty outcomes. As a libertarian, I support OctoMom’s freedom to be a vile horror; but I won’t pretend her actions are good for liberty.

      So while I don’t support state intervention in marriage, I think you do Michael a slight disservice by dismissing his argument so easily.

    • ZuiyoMaru

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      @Brian

      Before I address your concerns, I should point out that I do not identify as a libertarian. Though I do sympathize with most libertarian social policies, I do not always agree with libertarian economic policies. That said, let me answer your points.

      Whether the family is an important bulwark against the state is debatable, and coming from a somewhat broken family tends to lead me away from that conclusion. Regardless, however, my biggest divergence from Michael is the idea a “traditional” family (an institution that has frequently gone through some extremely varied changes based on culture and time period) is somehow superior to a family comprised of a same-sex couple and any children they have, whether adopted or born through a surrogate. There certainly isn’t any evidence to support this supposition, aside from conservative philosophy that asserts that, because something is traditional or institutionalized, it is somehow better. I, frankly, see no reason why or why not the arrangement described by Michael is any better than any other.

      As for your concerns about families or immigrants that cause a drain on social services,the obvious solution in an ideal political climate (speaking as a libertarian and not from my own personal beliefs) would be to eradicate those services first and then extend the liberty to immigrate or raise children. This response is specific to your examples, but I think the general point applies to any such policies.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      ZM, I addressed a couple of the points you raised in my comment below to Kevin, and I hope that clarifies some things for you.

      As for your argument that a true libertarian stance would be to remove government entirely from the matter…my good fellow, the state is going to be involved one way or another. Under the allegedly “pure” libertarian system, it would still be the courts and the legal system that would be responsible for validating and enforcing any “domestic contracts” that might replace civil marriage.

      Given that inevitability, the question becomes “What sort of civil society will our laws tend to encourage, and how will the legal system protect and render inviolate the sanctity of the home?” Private businesses are certainly more subject to state scrutiny than families, so to take the family and reduce its organizing principle to the same one used by business partnerships would be sheer folly and an invitation for all kinds of outside intervention! Not immediately, but slowly, over time, and inevitably.

  4. Kevin Boyd

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike,

    Good piece and interesting argument but one I must disagree with.

    In the “second way” proposed by many libertarians, this process is only accelerated. Not even the fig leaf of the word “marriage” remains; now adults really do simply enter into contractual agreements with one another, and the process of familial erosion is accelerated. Private conceptions of marriage and family may continue to exist — but without definition and recognition inside the legal code, one cannot expect that the State will honor the sanctity or inviolability of that which it does not acknowledge to exist in the first place.

    One of the few roles of the state in libertarian thought is to enforce contracts. Why would private marriage contracts not be enforced and honored?

    Also, I would rather gay couples committing to each other for like and raising children then to encourage them to engage in risky behavior. Gay marriage will encourage gays to settle down and be a part of the community. There’s a Burkian argument for gay marriage.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Kevin, thank you for your response, and I will try to reply to both your points.

      1) I don’t expect that the state will not enforce private marriage contracts, should it come to that state of affairs. What I’m saying is that what at that point will be called “marriage” will be valued no more highly than other contractual arrangement. While this may not affect the spousal bond, it does pose a threat to the meaning and sanctity of the family. Right now, the state has no problem intruding into the internal workings businesses arising out of private contracts; should marriage be reduced in the law and in our cultural understanding to something for all intents and purposes equivalent to that, what rationale will then exist for the government not regulating the home as it does the workplace? I don’t see any.

      What makes marriage special, what makes it stand out is the fact that it naturally tends to give rise to children and family, without human intervention. That is what sets it apart from everything else, and that standing apart is what gives it its strength as an institution. It is clearly special, and in a certain way unique, and this garners it respect in the eyes of society and the law.

      Now, I’m not saying that gay couples are less capable of being good parents or having a positive impact on society! But…a family will never naturally arise out of that pairing; it will always require artificial intervention of one form or another. Writ large, and instituted as a norm, this undermines the uniqueness of the family, as described above. In some cases, deviations from the norm may be beneficial, but altering said norm could have profoundly negative consequences on liberty.

      Family, as a general rule, would be transformed in the public consciousness into something that couples “opt in” to as opposed to “opt out” of. This may seem like a thin semantical point, but consider the striking difference between, say, a government surveillance program that citizens could opt in to, and one that they had to opt out of? Under which system would you prefer to live?

    • Mike,

      Heterosexual couples already “opt in” to family by having sex that produces a child. Sure, maybe they used contraceptives that weren’t fully effective and the child was conceived, anyway, but that is the only actual case where a child is truly “opt out” (and, I suppose, fits of passion coupled with irresponsibility in the contraception department).

      Plenty of heterosexual families “opt in” via other ways as well, whether they be IVF, surrogacy, sperm banks, or adoption, and nobody is denying them marriage.

      Nobody I know, heterosexuals included, defines “family” as how the child was created, but instead by their bond, which is emotional and usually also by DNA. Getting SS partners into stable relationships, where they have that bond, seems a far better option to me than tossing them out into the cold with a “Sorry, but you didn’t create your kid the right way [or didn't create at all], so we’re not going to allow you to share the same kind of family relationship that others have for thousands of years.”

  5. Teddy

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    How incredible. To wit: It is vitally important for people to self organize into associations of their choosing, the most important of which being the family. It is therfore vitally important the state prevent homosexuals from doing the same because FREEDOM.

    There could not be a more disingenuous or dishonest argument made without intentionally setting out to do so.

    • Brian Lehman

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      It made me think of the famous George W. Bush excuse for passing TARP – that we need to violate the free market in order to save the free market. Or, the rationale behind the PATRIOT ACT, that we need to violate freedom in order to save freedom. It didn’t make sense in those cases, and it doesn’t make sense here either.

      You don’t create a free society by limiting what individuals to do to actions you “approve of”. And you don’t foster liberty by stepping on liberty.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Teddy and Brian,

      All liberty requires a certain amount of structure in order to be able to flourish. There is nothing inimical to libertarianism in acknowledging this fact. The Tree of Liberty needs gentle and careful pruning here and there in order to grow to its full potential, and remain not a mere shrub.

      In order to protect marriage and the family from the state, some level of involvement and acknowledgment must be written into our legal code. I have yet to hear of a government that honored rights and privileges that were non-existent within its law books.

  6. DrkLrdBill

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    So gay couples who adopt and raise kids who were unwanted otherwise are contributing to the downfall of society?

    Your argument against gay marriage is essentially saying that society is better when gay couples cannot marry and raise children. I’m sure those kids without any parents at all will do just great.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      I’m sorry that, in my effort to achieve some degree of brevity, that impression came across. Please see my comment above to Kevin to clarify my views on that matter.

  7. Mike

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike – you said: “There exists, in the union of a man and a woman, an implicit understanding that children will arise out of this new-found partnership and that a whole new societal unit will be created. This is, indeed, the natural order of things. However, should the definition of marriage be expanded to cover instances where there is no such understanding, then marriage becomes just another contractual relationship between two adult members of society, albeit one infused with erotic and romantic love.”

    Why would a new societal unit not develop from a same sex couple? What if they adopted children? What if a man and woman can’t have children, and adopted one? Would that qualify as a new societal unit?

    Also, I don’t see how getting government out of the marriage biz leads to a Leviathan getting bigger. That seems to be the opposite case to me.

    Finally, I do think that many of the state-level proposals for SSM fail to adequately protect religious liberty, which is a deal-breaker for me.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Mike, thank you for your comment. I agree on that the current SSM laws being proposed fail to adequately protect religious liberty, but that is a topic for another day.

      Regarding the rest, please see my comment above to Kevin. May of you raised the same objections, and I think it is simpler if I direct you there instead of repeating myself ad nauseum.

  8. Matthew

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    This is not a “libertarian” case for traditional marriage. It’s a conservative case made by a libertarian. The frequency of the word “traditional” within the argument itself argues against your premise.

    “As previously stated, there are many ways in which Man organizes himself in a free society, many grouping and associations into which he may enter.

    But if we think all but one of those type of associations is harmful to society, we should use the power of the State to prevent it? That is prima facie social conservatism, the opposite of libertarianism.

    What defines his family, though, rests on our traditional understanding of marriage: one man and one woman coming together in a lifelong commitment out of which children may naturally arise.

    No. You are attempting to define his family for him. It is, again, the antithesis of libertarianism for the State to hold this power.

    Further, children may also arise out of any number of other familial arrangements, by surrogacy, adoption, or other means. Children also “naturally arise” out of non-familial arrangements. Would you argue for State enforcement of out-of-wedlock pregnancy bans and call it libertarianism as well?

    An argument made by a libertarian is not necessarily itself libertarian. This post is probably the best proof of that I’ve ever seen.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Please refrain from putting words in my mouth. At no point did I state that all arrangements other than marriage are harmful to society. An honest reading of my words will show that I stated quite the opposite. My argument is that, in order for the maximum possible amount of liberty to flourish, certain limiting parameters ought to be preserved on the institution we call marriage.

      Feel free to peruse my responses to other commentors if you seek additional clarity on the matter.

  9. Anna Morris

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Very interesting read, Mike, but I’d have to disagree with you on several points.

    This does not account for heterosexual couples who cannot or choose not to have children. They are not creating a new societal unit, so does this nullify their marriage? Without addressing this, the entire argument falls apart. Also, what becomes of children who could have been potentially adopted by a gay couple?

    • Kevin Boyd

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Bingo!

      As a matter of fact, by encouraging gay couples to settle down and adopting children (which is better than orphanages and foster homes) you can make a conservative argument for gay marriage.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Anna, thank you! Glad you found it interesting; it has certainly been an interesting topic to ponder and discuss with everyone here.

      Regarding your points, please see my above response to Kevin, who raised some similar ones. Hope that clarifies my thinking on the matter for you!

  10. Lawful Plunder

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Thoughtful piece, and there’s certainly a compelling case to be made for marriage/family, but it seems to me you are making the traditional Conservative argument, not the Libertarian one. Nothing wrong with that, and if you are some blend of Conservative/Libertarian, that just makes you one of the many Conservatarians out there.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      My goal was to make an argument for traditional marriage based on maximizing liberty and checking the power of the state. If that is not at least a “little-L” libertarian argument, than I don’t know what is.

    • Matthew

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      But the state enforcing one kind of personal contract over another isn’t “maximizing liberty”, it’s limiting it. “Maximizing liberty” would be for the state to be completely uninterested in the matter.

  11. Matthew Caruso

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    “How incredible. To wit: It is vitally important for people to self organize into associations of their choosing, the most important of which being the family. It is therfore vitally important the state prevent homosexuals from doing the same because FREEDOM.”

    It took Teddy all of 40+ words to dismantle this asinine post.

  12. Dave

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike, the premise you base this argument on is fundamentally flawed. You are begging the question in this argument because your premise assumes the truth of your conclusion, i.e. that if couples who need to have children through methods other than natural pregnancy aren’t a family.

    The premise of your argument is wrong because clearly there are plenty of female/male couples for whom children have not been born naturally. Couples adopt, couples use IVF, and couples never have children. A 70 year post natal woman can marry if she finds someone, yet you would not argue against that on the basis that she can never have a child again. Yet all these things are already accepted as normal and don’t change people’s understanding of a family is.

    This tactic is quite often pulled out by Christian crackpots, now that they can’t argue against it solely on the basis that being gay is “wrong”.

    There are 12 countries were gay marriage is legal today. Rather than a hopelessly flawed argument why don’t you collect some evidence from those countries where your so-called liberty has started to erode? Or maybe you couldn’t find any examples? Yeah, thought not.

    Why not just admit you hate the gays and are happy to use the state power you so decry to continue discriminating against us. That would fit with the flawed conservative argument you are using.

    • Mike Gannon

      June 4, 2013

      Post a Reply

      Dave, please see my above comment in reply to Kevin. A family may take many forms, and in individual cases, a non-traditional one may produce better results than a one that follows the perceived norm. I do not dispute this.

      However, it is my argument that in order to maintain the special status, and therefore unique checking power on state authority that the family possesses, the definitional norm of “family is that which naturally arises out of a man and woman bound in lifelong matrimony” must be maintained. In this case, it is similar to our understanding of liberty, which we hold to be man operating free of government control, while acknowledging that, under certain circumstances, some exercise of state power becomes necessary to ensure the full flourishing of liberty for all.

  13. Kevin Boyd

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike,

    What I’m saying is that what at that point will be called “marriage” will be valued no more highly than other contractual arrangement. While this may not affect the spousal bond, it does pose a threat to the meaning and sanctity of the family. Right now, the state has no problem intruding into the internal workings businesses arising out of private contracts; should marriage be reduced in the law and in our cultural understanding to something for all intents and purposes equivalent to that, what rationale will then exist for the government not regulating the home as it does the workplace? I don’t see any.

    I would argue the state already did interfere with what goes on in the home with sodomy laws until they were struck down. The same is true with restrictions on pornography, sex toys, drug use, and what we can eat and drink. The state doesn’t need to devalue marriage to attack the home.

    What makes marriage special, what makes it stand out is the fact that it naturally tends to give rise to children and family, without human intervention. That is what sets it apart from everything else, and that standing apart is what gives it its strength as an institution. It is clearly special, and in a certain way unique, and this garners it respect in the eyes of society and the law.

    I can go out and get a woman pregnant tonight without marrying her. Many heterosexual married couples struggle with infertility as well. Your argument I’m afraid if carried to its logical conclusion would open the door to eugenics type restrictions on marriage. We would both agree that those would not be beneficial to liberty.

    I would also argue that the state licensing of marriage weakens the power and the liberty of the church, which is also a bulwark against state tyranny in its own right. Some other faiths may have a different view of marriage than ours.

    Finally, a piece paper from the state does not and should grant respect for an institution. The attitude of each individual and society at large should determine if an institution is worthy of respect. Clearly with a 50% divorce rate, marriage has bigger problems than the gays.

  14. Dave

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike,

    As I said, you’re begging the question. Your premises assumes the truth of your conclusion. You haven’t proved how people accepting two guys as a family will make the concept of family “weaker”, you’re just assuming that it is true and then arguing that because it is true gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

    Come back when you have some real world truth to your assumption. Canada has had same sex marriage since 2004, why don’t you go survey some Canadians and find out if what they think of as a family is descending into the dystopian future you are asserting it to be.

  15. Lawful Plunder

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike,

    In the battle against big/bigger govt, I completely agree that marriage/family serves an important role. I would just say that an argument that ultimately serves the cause of liberty, is not necessarily a libertarian argument.

  16. GaltsGirl

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Mike, there is positively nothing libertarian in your viewpoint. Any argument you attempt to label as “libertarian” that grants control over a personal decision is flatly misleading. I don’t think the word “liberty” means what you think it means.

  17. sqeptiq

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    You have written an engaging social conservative case in favor of granting heterosexual couples a monopoly on legal marriage; however it is mischievous to portray your social conservative and traditionalist Catholic views as libertarian. Likewise, the great Edmund Burke was a conservative; that’s why “Burkean conservative” is a commonly used term in political philosophy and “Burkean libertarian” isn’t. Libertarianism isn’t bound to defer to or prop up “the little platoon”; libertarianism is about securing individual rights. Libertarians aren’t reflexively hostile to federal authority. Authentic libertarians recognize that sometimes the federal government needs to step in to secure individual rights when a state or locality denies them. In his notorious interview with Rachel Maddow, America’s most prominent libertarian elected official, Rand Paul, provided a good example of this: (part 1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9U4FTd-1m-o&feature=youtube_gdata_player (part 2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS_qya7w0hs&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    Rand said that he would have voted at the federal level to ban segregation in public institutions such as schools, thereby overturning state segregation laws, and that’s a proper libertarian principle, one that affirms equal citizenship. (Partisans of states’ rights like old Richard Russell would disagree, but then, they took a conservative, not a libertarian, position.) The Supreme Court decisions Loving vs State of Virginia, which overturned state bans on interracial marriage; and Lawrence vs Texas, which overturned sodomy laws, are other federal interventions that consistent libertarians can and should embrace.

    You are mistaken to see the heterosexual marital unit as a bulwark against totalitarianism. Heterosexual marriage was a strong institution indeed in the USSR, in some ways more strongly defended there than in the free world. The Soviets had the institution of punishing cheating spouses in their employment, it was a part of “punishment for immorality” (Russian “nakazanie za amoralku”). Incidentally, the USSR also imprisoned gays.

    There is no “mundane sameness” in allowing gay marriage along with hetero. Allowing both is by definition more diverse than just allowing one.

    Prohibition of gay marriage doesn’t strengthen the heterosexual marital unit, either. Together with homophobia, it promotes beard marriages and seeking same-sex lovers on the side, and creates heartbreak for deceived spouses. Far better to extend equal respect and rights to gays and lesbians than to pressure them into beard marriages and furtive secret lives.

  18. Okie

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Thank you for a great article. I side with Libertarianism quite often but I challenge my libertarian friends to think of how “offended” you are when some write about libertarianism you believe is not libertarianism as I am sure those of traditional marriage, one man and lady, feel the same when homosexuals try to use the institution of marriage.

    *If* Government is to be involved in recognizing marriage, we would expect Government to recognize the proper definition of said institution. Honestly, none of us need Gov to marry.

    The family is very important. One could argue science dictates it’s the reason of life. To further your point simply look to the slave masters of the South. In order to keep control and quell rebellion from slaves, slave families were split up as often as possible.

    I will always side with the individual and their option to choose but you make great points i could support. I hope you have a great night.

  19. Jason

    June 4, 2013

    Post a Reply

    This post may have carried some weight if the author hadn’t mislead readers from the word “go” — and yes, that is exactly what you’ve done. The entire premise of this post is a fallacy because it is a socially conservative viewpoint.

    As much as I may disagree with my social conservative friends, I can understand their views on this issue. I know that they come from conviction, usually motivated by their faith. I can respect that.

    It’s true that there are issues on which libertarians have some real divides — including abortion and, to a lesser extent, immigration.

    There are legitimate arguments among libertarians as to whether or not there should be state recognition of any marriage. However, the central point on which libertarians can agree — the point that is, apparently, lost on this author — is that two people who love each other, whether it’s a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, should be able to enter into binding contract.

    I submit that the core of the libertarian view is the “harm principle,” as defined by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty. It’s fundamentally anti-libertarian to assert a moral objection to any activity — or, in this case, a legal, binding contract — that doesn’t inflict any actual harm on another sovereign individual.

    “[T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right… The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

  20. Jeff

    June 5, 2013

    Post a Reply

    I disagree, tell me how allowing the government to define marriage makes it stronger? By allowing leviathan to dictate who can be married makes the institution weaker (just look at the last century for evidence). What truly makes a marriage strong and the family bonds secure are the people that have joined in the union, not the definition or tax code that comes with it. Marriage today as it currently stands is a broken mess because the government defines it.

  21. Morgan Phillips

    June 5, 2013

    Post a Reply

    “This being the case, it astounds this writer that so many libertarian pundits and activists are eager to toss aside the strongest and most vital of these platoons — that is, marriage and the natural family it supports. They favor a scheme which, if enacted, will serve only to further weaken civil society and is swiftly becoming the sole constant in the lives of our nation’s citizens: the State.”

    How? By further disenfranchising gay and lesbian community members per your brilliant scheme you guarantee 1 of 2 results. 1 – Loveless unhappy marriages by those browbeaten into conforming to societal norms. Don’t really see that strengthening your beloved family unit, let alone community, in any possible way. 2 – You’re left with permanently dissatisfied gays and lesbians consigned to the status of 2nd class (or 3rd or 4th – your bigotry probably isn’t limited so I imagine you have a whole hierarchy of “less than”) that are denied the ability to take part in what you see as the bedrock of society. Again, I fail to see how this strengthens local bonds.
    I’d love to hear a single cogent argument as to how two men getting to marry and love and honor each other in any way weakens the bonds of your, or any heterosexual union. If we’re going to play along with your 1/4 baked idea that national government is best left to school boards and drinking buddies,it seems pretty obvious that you’re doubly wrong. Unless you deny that gays and lesbians exist (in which case what the hell are you doing trying to squash the happiness of imaginary people?) aren’t the benefits obvious? You aren’t relegating this entire demographic to the margins of society for starters. Then, by acknowledging that members of that group are people, there will be a net gain of your beloved marital bonds. It will extrapolate outwards, surprising you how much more likely and willing people are to give back to and participate in their community when they aren’t treated like lepers.

    The funny thing about this is, just like every other homophobe who feels compelled to grab the nearest megaphone and assert how straight he is, you’re totally gay.

  22. Frank B

    June 5, 2013

    Post a Reply

    After reading this I’m going to write an article titled, “The Libertarian Case for Gun Control and Warrantless Searches.” It’ll make about as much sense.

  23. Bill O'Keefe

    June 7, 2013

    Post a Reply

    So let me get this right.

    Someone who is a blind to the world and incredibly stick-up-the ass pre-Vatican 2 holy roller writes a story defending his failed interpretation of a sentence from Leviticus using Libertarian philosophy (which openly mocks and doesn’t adhere to) ?

    Seems legit to me….

    PS (just to alleviate this allegation)

    I’m a Catholic who has two cousins who are Jesuit priests and my grandparents were both Eucharistic ministers and members of Opus Dei.

  24. I took on this piece over at Thoughts on Liberty.

    “Gannon believes that he knows what is natural and right for society, and he wants to enforce his ideas. This makes him no different than those throughout history who have used power to enforce their personal utopia. What Gannon needs is a humility check. He does not know what is best for each individual, gay or straight, what is best for the family, what is best for society, or what natural order even looks like. For him to claim that his argument is libertarian, he would have to address the knowledge problem, the right to associate, and the right for private institutions to marry gays if they wish. None of these issues arose in his article.”

    More here: http://thoughtsonliberty.com/there-is-no-libertarian-argument-against-gay-marriage

  25. Bill O'Keefe

    June 7, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Serious question: Does this blog exist to promote Liberty anymore or just troll people who do with garbage like this? Serious question here….

    • sqeptiq

      June 7, 2013

      Post a Reply

      I also wonder what led PFoL editors to publish this piece. People can of course publish what they please, but PFoL bills itself as conservatarian, and accepting the legality of SSM at at least the state, and for a good number the federal, level is pretty much a litmus test for conservatarians (which makes it both foolish and annoying for the dogged socon and fundamentalist Dana Loesch to call herself a conservatarian, by the way).

  26. cls

    June 7, 2013

    Post a Reply

    The premise that libertarians are anarchists is wrong. That is just the first of many errors.

  27. @mesobland

    June 18, 2013

    Post a Reply

    This piece was EXCELLENT, Mike. Reasoned well, and countless studies back your assertions.

    Family is the first exposure individuals have to principles, behavior, love, virtue, ethics-etc…they learn from family structures. Fatherless homes are among some of the most at-risk environments–and how many times do we hear the role of the father undermined and altogether ignored in our society. Maybe if we had stronger families and father figures–we wouldn’t look to Big Brother for help.

  28. 1234398

    June 29, 2013

    Post a Reply

    “MAN organizes himself in a free society, many grouping and associations into which he may enter. What defines HIS family, though, rests on our traditional understanding of marriage: one man and one woman coming together in a lifelong commitment out of which children may naturally arise” MAN, MAN, HIS, HIS, HIS

    So I guess as a dyke this does not apply to me?

    “his God-given dignity and liberty”

    But I’m an atheist…

    This post is so sexist. Why can’t I take care of my family without a man? I mean, clearly I can and if people want to create families without female partners that is fine too. Your post makes it sound like same-sex families are “lacking” something. I’m a responsible adult and my partnership is very much like a heterosexual one. The only difference is that I have female secondary sex characteristics and long hair. Surely you cannot define a partnership by some arbitrary physical characteristics?

  29. Ken Munson

    August 11, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Families are important! And gay marriage “will serve only to further weaken
    civil society!” How? Because families are important! But how will gay marriage makes them less important? By what mechanism? By what reasoning? IT. JUST. WILL. JUST TAKE MY FREAKING WORD FOR IT.

    I am sick of asinine, illogical things like this just being asserted.

  30. Richard Eisenman

    June 6, 2015

    Post a Reply

    I agree that ‘the true libertarian is a partisan of what Edmund Burke famously dubbed society’s “little platoons,” those local associations and organizations into which free men naturally congregate’.

    AND I argue that only those “local associations” should grant marriage licenses. I find the following article by Gordon Anderson ‘Why Christians should oppose a government definition of Marriage’ to be a clear statement of the case:
    http://blog.ganderson.us/2011/05/why-christians-should-oppose-a-government-definition-of-marriage/

    What many find daunting is how tax law might change. Anderson answers in that article as follows:

    “Inevitably, questions of taxation and property arise. Perhaps it is time for the government to get out of this as well. For tax purposes, there already exists a system for claiming dependents that can be used without reference to marital status. For property allocation, we should simply demand that people who are concerned about probate should make a will. Failing to do that would lead to probate based on only one marriage, and that would be proof of a marriage performed by a cultural institution.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. There Is No Libertarian Argument Against Gay Marriage | Rachel Burger - […] thought this was old news until I read Pocket Full of Liberty’sembarrassment of an article, “The Libertarian Case For …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>