drwex (drwex) wrote,

I would like not to say anything about Kim Davis

...but it appears there might one iota of good coming from this idiotic fiasco.(*)

A proposal is being bruited around to change the law, and thereby fundamentally change the amount of governmental involvement in marriage. The proposal is to eliminate the need for the government to issue a license for marriage and instead to have the government act as a registrar of marriages.

In effect, this would make marriage licenses like property deeds and estate wills - you have one, there are laws around what makes one a binding legal document, and the government preserves its and the public interest in knowing what happens with them. But it takes away the governmental role of sanctioning marriages. For some time - at least since equal marriage became a widespread topic of discussion - people have wondered whether it wouldn't be better if government got out of the marriage business altogether.

I think the answer to that is a qualified "no" in that I believe government has a role in protecting people from coerced marriage and fraudulent marriage. I also believe it's important that there be a persistent documentation that is either fully transparent or that can be brought into court under the right authority. Civil records seem to me to be the best place to hold this information. I'm extremely uncomfortable with - but don't have a better idea than - having government involved in regulating certain kinds of marriage, such as marriage to underage persons, marriage to close blood relatives, and marriages to non-citizens. All of these situations have a high potential to create a social cost and if the population as a whole is going to be asked to bear that cost then I think regulation is appropriate. I'm just unhappy with the idea that some government might get to continue defining some kinds of marriage as "dangerous" or similar.

So to the extent that the Davis situation might produce a movement toward lessening the role government plays in marriage I'm willing to consider that the silver lining of this particular dark cloud.

(*) Just in case there was any doubt, I'm of the opinion that Ms Davis has a right to her religious beliefs but she does not have a right to hold governmental office. When the two are in conflict she has to choose and that's NOT an infringement on her religious rights.
Tags: politics
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