Thursday, December 22, 2005

Common Sense on SSM

the essential issue is symbolic. I disagree with both about the conclusion. A law that forbids same sex marriage imposes on everyone the view of one side of the controversy; a law that permits it imposes on everyone the view of the other side. My colleague has the right to live with his partner on the same legal terms that I live with my wife, but he does not have the right to insist that other people regard their relationship as marriage. Making laws about symbolism is not the business of the U.S. government.The only way out of this dilemma is the neutral option: Get the government out of the business of defining what is or is not marriage. Revise laws where necessary to define legally relevant relationships in gender neutral terms. If a state wants to give special rights to one person in regard to another based on their relationship--the right, say, to make medical decisions in an emergency --let it define the relationship by how long they have lived together, whether they share property, the existence of a public commitment, or whatever other criteria are relevant. Churches, and anyone else, are free to handle marriage as they choose. The legal consequences are gone. The social consequences are up to all the other people who do or do not choose to regard a couple as married.

David Friedman has one of the most common sense solutions to the same sex marriage debate I have seen to date.  Of course such an approach means that our government would have to engage in common sense.

I’m not holding my breath.

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