I know you’re aware of the Marriage Equality debate that has been foaming at the mouth again. If you know me, you know my point of view and I won’t beat you over the head with it. That’s not what I’m concerned with today anyways. Right now, I’m more concerned with a sub-debate that has popped up in some (mostly, but not totally Libertarian) circles.
Why the hell is the Government involved in Marriage anyways?
It’s a valid question and seems obvious enough. Especially if you define marriage as a social (possibly religious) agreement between two people promising to take care of each other (you can even use the term “help meet” if you want to get biblical about it), then who I marry should only matter to me, my spouse and (if applicable) my chosen deity. There doesn’t seem to be much need for any government in that. Easy.
But then let’s use my own personal anecdote* to illustrate where I see the fault in this logic.
My current wife and I were together for eight years before we got married. We lived together for about Six and a half of those wherein she was in every way a helpmeet for me and I for her. We took care of each other and shared our lives as well as our habitation and bills. Everyone we knew understood this and, as we are not religious people, we didn’t particularly need a ceremony to cement anything. We could have simply declared our marriage in a social sense and be done with it. Maybe even bought each other rings and slapped them on our fingers as an outward statement of fidelity. If we wanted to be particularly showy and involve the family, we could have paid any number of people to perform a ceremony (I'm also certain that any church would have allowed it if we were members of that church). We didn’t need a government for that shit.
My wife didn’t have health insurance through her work and I was only able to add someone onto my insurance if they were my LEGAL spouse. If she got injured or sick and admitted into an ICU, the hospital could potentially keep me from seeing her because I was not a relative and I wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing about it. If I were to die, my sister would have more legal rights as to the fulfillment of my final wishes than her. Not of that touches on tax benefits, wrongful death benefits, inheritance issues, decisions on medical care should I not be fit (physically or mentally) to decide for myself and a litany of other issues.
Without a firm, legal backing bound by reams of paperwork held in third and fourth party hands and performed under officially recognized guidance, that is where we were.
So we said to hell with that bullshit and got the government involved in our marriage.
*Obviously, as a personal anecdote, I don't expect that this reveals any universal truths. Just personal ones.