Marriage

Is It Finally Time to Get Government Out of the Marriage Business?

Elected officials cannot be fired, which makes it that much harder to hold them accountable.

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wedding rings

Americans everywhere learned this week just how hard it is to hold accountable an elected official who flagrantly violates the law.

Kim Davis, the duly elected clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has been held in contempt of court by a judge and sent to jail for continuing to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many onlookers, including Reason's Scott Shackford (who, needless to say, supports gay marriage), are discomfited by this. Not only does it seem needlessly heavy-handed to bring the carceral state to bear, but it has transformed Davis into a martyr in the eyes of many same-sex marriage opponents. (And if you doubt, as I did, the extent to which that's true, take a look at this screed from Christian blogger Matt Walsh and be enlightened.)

Consider that the reason the federal judge in question felt compelled to have Davis jailed is that so few other remedies were available. Davis disobeyed two court orders and a (non-binding, apparently) command from the governor to hand out marriage licenses to all eligible couples. She explicitly refused to carry out one of the key functions of her job. But elected officeholders are not employees and cannot, therefore, be fired. Kentucky makes no provision for a recall election, so the people would have to wait until her term expired to punish her at the ballot box, and no other official has the authority to remove her from office, even for breaking the law. Impeachment proceedings, while theoretically possible, turn out to be vanishingly rare in that state and, in any case, do nothing to resolve the issue in the short term.

The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.

It's exceedingly easy to hold private organizations and individuals accountable for their actions. Business owners can (or ought to be able to, anyway) terminate employees. Workers can walk out on employers. Donors are free to alter their giving patterns, and consumers are free to organize boycotts and public relations campaigns to punish or reward businesses and other civic organizations. If you don't like a particular church's definition of marriage, you can go to another one. If a service provider won't accept your definition of marriage, you can take your money elsewhere.

The more of the business of life we can place in the sphere of voluntary relations, the less likely will be messy situations like the one unfolding now in Rowan County.

I won't go so far as to say that getting rid of government marriage licenses is the libertarian position—there are dissenters, including Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia, and skeptics including Shackford—but it's a pretty common one that Reason has written some about over the years. Maybe it's time to start seriously thinking about how to make it happen.

NEXT: Clinton Sorry to Be 'Confusing,' Kim Davis Says She Won't Resign, Obama Meets Saudi King: P.M. Links

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  1. Of course not. There are ideological enemies to be punished.

    1. Kim Davis may well be the most effective libertarian in history.

      Today, everyone in the US seems to be discombobulated that a bureaucrat isn’t blessing their marriage.

      Tomorrow, maybe some people will wake up say WTF do we need some bureaucrat to bless our marriage

      OTOH – maybe this will all just clarify that the real issue here is how many pigs want to stick their snouts in some government marriage trough

  2. Many onlookers, including Reason‘s Scott Shackford (who, needless to say, supports gay marriage)…

    Way to be a cliche, Shackford.

    1. including Reason’s Scott Shackford (who, needless to say, supports gay marriage),

      Clearly the implication is that every gay man supports gay marriage. Stephanie needs to do a little more research – not all gay men and women support gay marriage. No homo.

      1. Interestingly enough, Shackford seems to be the only contributor here who consistently uses “marriage recognition” as opposed to “legalize” when writing on the subject. I appreciate that because when arguing a point using precise language helps frame things correctly.

  3. Also might be time to stop electing paper pushers like county clerks.

    1. Also might be time to stop electing paper pushers like county clerks.

      The hell? Why don’t you just pack up and move to Somalia??

      1. Do they appoint county clerks there? Next thing you know, folk will be advocating that the highbinders in the State House appoint Senators.

      2. I’m unfamiliar with Somali clerk-recorder policy. Please tell me more.

        1. They have them. But the offices are burnt out and the clerks are completely illiterate md have no paperwork or writing utensils. And they have all been murdered by thugs.

      3. Can’t get there without roads, ya know.

    2. Errand boys sent by grocery clerks

      1. Are we talking about Elaine or Capt Willard?

        1. I will have to see this hat!

  4. The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.

    I’m not sure how you would know you’ve gained universal cultural acceptance without the ability to force wedding photographers to take pictures of you on your special day.

    1. No shit. If you can’t use government force, or the threat thereof, to make people participate in your wedding whether they want to or not, then what’s the point of getting married in the first place?

      1. Or even…what’s the point of having a government in the first place?

  5. No! It would tear apart the fabric of society, or at least the social contract!

    1. *runs social contract through a woodchipper*

      1. A paper shredder would probably work better, unless you want the facade of destruction without any actual destruction.

        1. As a repairman you should be promoting such things or is business that good?

    2. Was your social contract registered with the county clerk?

  6. Okay 1000 posts or bust!

    1. the staff hit that number long ago

  7. Americans everywhere learned this week just how hard it is to hold accountable an elected official who flagrantly violates the law.

    Yep. A lot easier than holding accountable an appointed official who flagrantly violates the law.

    1. WDATTDIM?

    2. It’s a game of follow the leader you know.

  8. Americans everywhere learned this week just how hard it is to hold accountable an elected official who flagrantly violates the law.

    Its not hard at all.

    A politician can live by the ballot box or the ammo box.

  9. “The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.”

    Agreed, and not just because foofaraw is a great word

    1. Agreed, but just for the word usage.

  10. Tar and feathers are an under appreciated and underused method these days.

    1. And whatever happened to running people out on a rail?

      I think “the old ways” were more effective.

  11. I thought Dalmia had already decreed that government can’t get out of marriage because contracts or something.

    1. DALMIA(desperately trying to rationalize freedom with a long-held traditional belief): It’s licenses or something. No wait. Contracts. No, it’s the children. No, um, wait…

  12. Kim Davis, the duely elected clerk

    Them’s fightin’ words.

    1. Can we have the president elected by a succession of duels? That would make the political season immensely entertaining.

      1. Yes, on the next Star Trek: Klingon Empire.

  13. Fuck everybody who has an opinion about anything.

    1. Shut up, JJ. Genie Bouchard just won her first set against Cibulkova in a tight tiebreak and I won’t have you distracting me. Only Genie can distract me right now. Though Cibulkova is kinda cute herself.

      1. Way to social signal that you’re into something indecipherable (I’m assuming those are tennis references? God you’re so white and gay).

        Meanwhile, I will watch college football and drink beer like a real man.

        1. Well, I am the gayest monster since gay came to Gaytown. So I’ll just keep watching this. Maybe I’ll have a white Zinfandel while I’m at it.

        2. You need to do a better job of policing your masculinity. You cis-hetero shitlord male RAPIST!

          1. Pfft, I wish I was a shitlord. That would be a major promotion for me. I’m still stuck down here as a turdburglar.

  14. Yes, next question.

    Unfortunately, the supreme court somehow decided that it was a fundamental right and not an equal protection question.

    1. Libertarians–always on the lookout for new rights to destroy, for freedom.

      1. Yeah, it’s not a right unless you need the government’s permission to exercise it!

        1. Land of Teh Free, baby.

      2. Re: Tony the Marxian,

        Libertarians–always on the lookout for new rights to destroy, for freedom.

        Only the made-up rights, Marxian. Only the made-up ones.

        1. They’re all made up.

      3. Rich coming from someone who thinks public accommodation laws, archaic as they are, should trump one’s freedom of conscience.

    2. the supreme court somehow decided that it was a fundamental right and not an equal protection question.

      Which is just obiter dicta as that wasn’t relevant to their decision in the case at hand. It doesn’t bind lower courts or set precedent.

      1. well, it was referenced by Judge Bunning

  15. Does Reason leave out the party affiliation of all elected officials, or just Democrats like Kim Davis?

    1. Do you have a point?

      Perhaps they just leave it out for low-level local offices that are supposed to be non-partisan and essentially non-political.

      1. I asked a question. So do they or not?

        1. No, in both cases, as you already were aware.

    2. When a government functionary refuses to follow the law, it’s really irrelevant what his/her political affiliation is. Focusing on that detail is idiotic.

  16. OK, can someone like Cato or the Reason Foundation (or even a Reason commenter) lay out a *specific* blueprint for adopting this marriage-deregulation policy.

    I’m talking about a bill to put before state legislatures and/or Congress to make *all* the needed legal changes entailed by deregulation.

    What would the bill say about the obligation to testify? Since the government no longer recognizes marriage, it can’t carve out a special exemption for spousal immunity. So do we compel spouses to testify against each other, or do we abolish compulsory testimony?

    So husband dies after 50 years of marriage, and the widow finds out that his will leaves everything to his 23-year-old mistress. The widow goes to court for her forced share of the estate (previously protected by law), but the court says, “we deregulated marriage, so we don’t distinguish between married and unmarried people. Maybe if you’d been clever enough to insist on a prenup half a century ago…” What *specific* changes would you advocate to replace the wife’s forced share?

    As for taxes with spousal exemptions, do you abolish all the exemptions, thereby raising taxes, or get rid of the taxes? Again, list the taxes to be affected and the effect of your policy on tax rates, individual tax liability, the budget, etc.

    OK, start with that.

    OR…you could say “deregulate marriage now, man, and the rest can sort itself out later!”

    1. Your paragraph four indicates that you are unaware of courts dealing with joint property of unmarried people all the time. They do that with the children of unmarried people all the time too, but that might just be me piling on.

      1. Specifically, when do they get to set aside a will in order to provide a fairer outcome for someone like the widow? Remember that you can’t recognize her marriage. And if you’re recognizing her as “a partner in a domestic partnership yada yada,” then aren’t you re-regulating marriage through the back door, simply by using different names?

        1. In the presence of a marriage license, many States set aside all the normal property rules and a surviving spouse, even one who has been estranged for a prolonged time, gets special preference.

          In the case of children, see “presumption of paternity,” where the male on the marriage certificate is automagically made father of any children that the mother has during the marriage, even if scientifically sure methods like DNA analysis prove otherwise.

          1. And are these things right or wrong?

            How would the Cato or Reason Foundation draft bill address these issues?

            1. Wrong, very wrong. Especially that presumption of paternity issue. I have no idea how Cato would approach it, but Reason (other than this particular author) seems to be fine with the jackbooted statist approach, so long as they get to hang out with the cool libertines in DC and LA.

        2. And if you’re recognizing her as “a partner in a domestic partnership yada yada,” then aren’t you re-regulating marriage through the back door, simply by using different names?

          No, I am advocating only recognizing who owned what property. Like if a couple of roommates decided to buy stuff together and one of them kicks off. Or even if a gaggle of chums decide to start a communal house and business, etc.

          1. Eddie is just being an ass here. He isn’t serious. He knows that the courts regularly adjudicate non married people’s common property with or without an actual license. He is simply playing the obtuse.

        3. BTW, there is a legal device called a Will that allows a property owner to designate who gets his stuff. If courts enforced those, it would be dandy.

          1. You see, the point of my example was about how a widow can get property that a will denies her.

            To deny this, we have to explain patiently to the legislators that the widow who was married 50 years should get shoved aside in favor of Miss Abernathy the Yoga Trainer, and end up with nothing.

            “The old crone should have signed a prenup – if she was too dumb to do that 50 years ago, screw her!”

            1. Prenuptial agreements get tossed out all the time in order to uphold the capricious marital property laws of States.

              A widow, or dead best friend, dead ex friend, whatever should get the property that is actually theirs and which is willed to them.

              BTW, all States are not community property States either. In the case of a divorce in many States, even for that 50 year marriage, the only property that your example woman would get is what she brought to the marriage and what she helped purchase (in her proportion) during the marriage.

            2. Why should she get the property if the will denies her? The property belonged to the owner, disposed of according to his wishes.

              My dad was pissed at my wife, convinced she couldn’t hold on to money (she can’t) so he skipped over me, the only child, and my daughter, and left everything (nearly $500k) to my son.

              I was disappointed, but it was his property and his wishes.

          2. Various churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc. can set forth marriage contracts that reflect their peculiar moral sentiments regarding the sacrament of marriage. Attorneys can draft prenuptial agreements. A couple could pick up a form contract at Office Depot or download software from the Internet that stipulates all of the terms for their marriage if not religiously inclined. There are all sorts of arrangements that can be devised for the distribution of property, custody of children, and so forth in the event of death or divorce.

            The reason people in the real world have wills is that they don’t agree with the standard distribution that the state provides in the event of intestacy.

            This is so obvious, but those who insist on the state’s blessing on marriage are incredibly stupid.

            1. Scroll up, that is not what he is asking. He wants to know how we are going to preserve the existing rules that attach to marriage certificates if those certificates are abolished.

              1. The concept of “grandfathering” is very well established.

              2. “rules that attach to marriage certificates”

                As I said before, I don’t think you should need a government license to get married.

                So for the sake of argument, let’s say that all you need to get married is for you and your intended to get up in front of witnesses and say “we’re married.”

                That doesn’t resolve the question, who is eligible to get government *recognition* for their marriage after their ceremony?

                What if one of the parties in the marriage ceremony is married to a third person (since this is a libertarian forum, let’s stipulate that the 3rd person does *not* consent to a new union)? What if the ceremony, although conducted and witnessed in due form, is in violation of libertarian principles? Would it be legitimate for the government to deny recognition to the putative marriage because, for example, there was coercion involved? So you can’t just look at whatever form they signed, the government must be open to evidence that it was signed voluntarily. Also that the parties were authorized to marry each other – which I *hope* you agree would mean not being a father and a daughter, for example. A certificate saying that daddy and his little girl are now husband and wife should not create a recognizable marriage (I mean, you *agree,* right)?

                So getting rid of licensing doesn’t solve the problem of *what is a marriage* for govt-recognition purposes.

                This seems like a fairly obvious point to me.

                1. As in other contracts, you only call in the courts to settle disputes. Contracts have to be informed consent of adults, not entered into under duress.

                  Other than helping to resolve disputes, there should be no other reason for government recognition.

                2. (I mean, you *agree,* right)?

                  Absolutely not.

                  Consenting adults may do as they choose.

                  1. My mother, my father, my stepsister, and my grandfather all agree with this.

                    That’s two people!

        4. Yeesh. All it takes is RE-legalizing common law marriage. That is not the state licensing/approving marriage. It is merely a court recognizing what free people have already created for themselves. Under common law, that widow has a claim precisely BECAUSE she and her husband held themselves out as married – to their community.

          1. Please don’t spread the common law marriage, which is not at all dead in America yet. Giving the state the power to decide when folks are married, especially without the consent of the folks they declare married is worse than begging for permission.

            1. There is no such thing as an imposed common law marriage. There is definitely such a thing as a couple pretending to be married until it involves some responsibility which one of them tries to get out of. Do you seriously think disputes just resolve themselves without something being imposed on someone?

    2. Sherman Booth, a married man, was convicted of seducing a young girl.

      He was also an abolitionist who went to prison for going to the aid of a fugitive slave. His case entailed conflict between the proslavery U.S. Supreme Court – which wanted him in prison – and the antislavery Wisconsin Supreme Court – which wanted him released. It was a classic constitutional confrontation.

      But never mind, Booth was a bad person so he doesn’t get to do anything good, ever.

      1. (meant as a reply to the comment re Davis’ personal history)

        1. So being an abolitionist trumps seducing children? What the ever loving Fuck?!

          Hitler, I have read, was a wonderful dancer. But never mind, Hitler was a bad person so he doesn’t get to do anything good, ever? That would be a big, Yes.

          Who cares if Tookie Williams wrote some nice children’s books after murdering people? No, I don’t care if he ever did anything good after committing murder! What religion are you in that forgives sin if you have done some other good works?! Certainly not Christianity.

          Dude, lay off of the sacramental wine, you appear to be drunk.

          1. Wikipedia on Booth’s trial:

            “Charged with “seduction”

            “In April 1860 Booth was indicted on a morals charge. Fourteen-year-old babysitter Caroline Cook claimed that during an overnight stay caring for his children that Booth had “seduced” her, getting into her bed naked and fondling her, and later carrying her to his own bed and raping her. During the subsequent trial Booth did not testify but his lawyers described Cook as a “little gipsy” and “strumpet.” Cook’s father testified that Booth had admitted he had done a “great injury” to him and that he wished to settle out of court, but was refused. Ultimately, the jury could not come to an agreement, and seven voted for conviction and five for acquittal. As a result, Booth’s wife left him, and his reputation as a moral authority was diminished.”

            Doesn’t sound like a nice thing to have done, though apparently there remains some doubt if he did it.

            On consideration, bumping uglies with a series of husbands is different from doing the baby sitter.

            “What religion are you in that forgives sin if you have done some other good works?!”

            I thought I was talking politics, not religion. Politics is more forgiving even than Christianity, because Christianity asks for repentance.

    3. I’d be OK with abolishing compulsory testimony.

      You could also say that all of the people who are already married under the old regime keep the same contractual/legal arrangement that they agreed to when they got married. People who get married from now on can figure it out for themselves.

      No one says you have to dissolve all existing marriages and start all over. And deregulating the specific terms of marriages when it comes to finances and such would take away the power of the legislature to change the rules mid-game, so to speak, with things like easier divorce or legal presumptions about child custody, which seems like something you would be in favor of.

      There’s a start. But I don’t think it is really society’s obligation as a whole to make people’s marriages easier things to negotiate and manage. So mostly I say people can sort it out themselves.

      1. You start with government treating everyone the same as much as possible. Once that’s accomplished, they have no need to know someone’s marital status, it won’t be important.

    4. What would the bill say about the obligation to testify? Since the government no longer recognizes marriage, it can’t carve out a special exemption for spousal immunity. So do we compel spouses to testify against each other, or do we abolish compulsory testimony?

      Under current law, the state can compel mothers to testify against their children, brothers and sisters to testify against each other, etc. Spousal immunity is a bizarre holdover from the common law (probably intended to keep women from testifying against their husbands).

      1. OK, then, by all means promote a bill to make the country more libertarian by deregulating marriage…and in the small print it says the various marital immunities from testimony are abolished and husbands and wives can be forced to testify against each other because in the eyes of the government they aren’t husbands and wives.*

        *In practice, as I’ve discussed earlier, even without these privileges husbands and wives may be able to take the Fifth, especially in a criminal context where there’s alleged to be something sinister about the spousal activities…but under a grant of immunity these privileges can be destroyed.

      2. It’s not bizarre. It is simply a recognition that most religions view marriage as the uniting of two people into one. And compelling spousal testimony is thus compelling one to testify against themselves. Same as the legal basis for conscientious objection.

        Of course, that doesn’t apply to anyone in a civil/secular marriage who think marriage is just some romantic ‘contract’ between two adults. But those folks are nothing but pigs looking for whatever goodies/’rights’ they can get from gummint

    5. 1. Abolish compulsory testimony
      2. Sign a contract (phase marriage out, old rules stand for those already married but not to people married after x date)
      3. Fuck tax exemptions for being married. Go to a fair or flat tax.

      1. or a sales tax

        1. Fair tax is a sales tax

  17. Per the link to the Blaze article defending her: She’s been divorced three times, and conceived children via adultery.

    Sounds about par for the “do as I say, not as I do” course.

  18. Per the link to the Blaze article defending her: She’s been divorced three times, and conceived children via adultery.

    Sounds about par for the “do as I say, not as I do” course.

    1. Per the link to the Blaze article defending her: She’s been divorced three times, and conceived children via adultery.

      Sounds about par for the “do as I say, not as I do” course.

      BUUUURN

    2. Sherman Booth, a married man, was convicted of seducing a young girl.

      He was also an abolitionist who went to prison for going to the aid of a fugitive slave. His case entailed conflict between the proslavery U.S. Supreme Court – which wanted him in prison – and the antislavery Wisconsin Supreme Court – which wanted him released. It was a classic constitutional confrontation.

      But never mind, Booth was a bad person so he doesn’t get to do anything good, ever.

      1. Also, IIRC the laws of Kentucky recognize divorce, so clerks are allowed to give marriage licenses to divorced persons. I would prefer that Kentucky’s constitution had an anti-divorce provision, but no such luck.

        But the Kentucky constitution specifically requires that officials only recognize opposite-sex marriage.

        So the only remaining question is whether the US Supreme Court is authorized to change the Ky Constitution on this point – and for those who deny such power, like Davis, the thing to do is follow the law. That is, uphold the Ky Constitution and the 10th Amendment.

        1. Oh, right. This is one of those times when you get all theocratic and tedious.

          Have a nice weekend.

        2. I’ll bet she considers herself blessed that the county clerks that recorded her divorces didn’t decide to go all bible-thumpy on her. God’s laws/Man’s laws and all.

        3. I would prefer that Kentucky’s constitution had an anti-divorce provision, but no such luck.

          Why?

          1. These people made a pinkie swear Her Mu, if I may call you Her Mu, and we can’t have state sanctioned Backsies on pinkie swears, Pinkie swears must be upheld, even if that means bringing down the violence inherent in the system down on would be Backsie givers and takers.

            1. if I may call you Her Mu

              Why not?

          2. Because divorce is bad for children and other living things?

            Imagine if half a century ago we’d *rejected* divorce “reform” and decided if anything to make marriages even harder to get out of. Then we’d gotten the social results we have now – such as the vast growth in fatherless families – and the pro-divorce people would be doing victory laps and saying “see what happened when you didn’t follow the policy we advocated”? Yet somehow the opponents of modern divorce laws and divorce culture don’t get to use that line of argument.

            I consider the gay activists and the divorce establishment to be two peas in a pod. I’m no homophobe – I’ll bash gays and straights equally when it comes to those who mess with the institution of marriage.

            1. Because divorce is bad for children and other living things?

              Always?

            2. How are gays messing with “the institution of marriage”?

              Seems to me that they just want to be part of it.

            3. Yet another reason why the state has no business issuing marriage licenses.

              The marriage license accomplishes nothing of social benefit. The state is not competent to bestow its blessing on a religious sacrament or to determine whether a union is moral or immoral regardless of whether it is okay for a person to wed for his second or fifth time to a heterosexual partner or for his first time to a homosexual partner. The state ought to stay out the marriage licensing business. At one time, in an ancient homogeneous culture, it may have made some sense. It is now an absurd anachronism that only serves to exacerbate a conflict in moral sentiments.

          3. Because Eddie is evil, HM.

        4. But the Kentucky constitution specifically requires that officials only recognize opposite-sex marriage.

          She refused to issue licenses to heterosexual couples, too. Even if one were to accept the legally flimsy argument that she was upholding the Kentucky constitution by not licensing gay couples, there is nothing in any local, state, or federal law that gave her a legal right, let alone obligation, to refuse to issue licenses to NON-gay couples.

          To sum up the timeline:
          1. She swore an oath to issue marriage licenses to legally qualified married couples.
          2. The Supreme Court made a ruling she didn’t like.
          3. She decided that it was now against her religious beliefs for her signature to appear on a heterosexual couple’s marriage license.
          4. But it isn’t against her religious beliefs to cash her paycheck, just so we’re clear.

          1. Wait, she refused to assist at *opposite*-sex marriages?

            This is a new one for me.

            It would certainly change the case if she had actually disobeyed the laws of Kentucky by refusing to help at legitimate marriages.

            Though I don’t think that’s what she did, and it certainly isn’t what she’s in prison for.

            1. Yes she did.

              Here’s the complaint
              http://www.aclu-ky.org/wp-cont…..plaint.pdf

              1. That’s interesting.

                The judge’s preliminary injunction and reasoning for it:

                http://www.aclu-ky.org/wp-cont…..-81215.pdf

            2. by refusing to help at legitimate marriages

              Christ, you are a fucking douchebag!

              1. Evil. Remember. The voices in his head tell him to do evil.

              2. “Oh, wow, I just realized – you don’t think same-sex unions are legitimate marriages! I just realized it just now! With this new information, I don’t think I can be your friend anymore!”

                1. So, just to be clear…

                  You are admitting your bigotry and want the state to provide unequal protection under the law for people not harming anyone else, because “marriage” is a sacred Skydaddy word that must not be used by evil prevertz?

                  1. Wow, man, it’s as if you can read my mind!

                    Don’t forget the part where I put puppies in blenders just to hear their screams of agony.

                    1. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least Eddie. You are fucked in the head. If Jebus told you to, I’m sure you would.

                      You’re a diseased statist theocrat.

                    2. You seem to have lost your shit. Should I put an ad in Lost and Found?

            3. This is a new one for me.

              Well, that’s understandable. You have to have spent at least sixty seconds looking into the case to discover that information.

              it certainly isn’t what she’s in prison for

              She was sued by a group of heterosexual and homosexual couples she had denied licenses. She lost the lawsuit, appealed, lost, appealed, lost, and then told the judge to go pound sand.

              So yes, she’s in prison for refusing to issue marriage licenses to heterosexual couples, among other things.

              1. Then I thank you for clarifying the situation.

                I must have skimmed the news summaries, or maybe the news summaries didn’t have this information.

                Still, even if she agreed, “OK, I’ll assist at the weddings of opposite-sex couples,” the judge wouldn’t let her out of prison. She’d have to agree to assist at same-sex weddings, too.

                And the reason she stopped doing straight weddings is part of her protest against doing gay ones. So it all comes down to same-sex marriage in the end.

      2. Not even in the same ballpark.

      3. Davis said she’d let people issue licenses to gay couples so long as her name didn’t appear on the document. Because Jesus doesn’t mind adultery or divorce or even gay marriage, but by God your signature better not show up on the wrong piece of paper.

        This is the brave moral stand you’re comparing to abolitionism?

        1. Perhaps Sherman Booth wore cotton clothes which were made by slaves. Maybe that would have made him a hypocrite. I don’t know.

          But that’s not why he went to prison. He went to prison for resisting an unconstitutional federal law.

          This clerk may hold donkey orgies in her office, I don’t know, but that’s not why she’s in prison. She’s in prison because the federal courts want to establish govt-recognized SSM in her county and she tried to resist.

          1. (Note to the clerk’s lawyer – I was giving a hypothetical, for argument purposes.)

    3. I don’t see the connection. Is she refusing to give licenses to people who were divorced before?

    4. “Sounds about par for the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ course.”

      Or she just converted to these beliefs in 2011.

  19. Serious question: is legalized polygamy/polyandry far behind? Will we, one day, watch as a Utah clerk of court is sent to the joint for failing to issue a plural marriage license?

    Please tell me this is going to happen.

    1. It’s going to happen, and libertarians should support it. Why wouldn’t they?

    2. Successive divorces and marriages, with the exes still hanging around, is legal for everybody but Mormons already. They are the only folks getting busted these days for “constructive marriages.”

      1. With the family I know, it started of typically when a guy married a girl, but then they guy went off to fight in a far away land. When he returned home, many months later, he found the nanny his wife had hired giving her an oral examination. After chasing off the nanny, he discovered how distraught his wife was without her, so he found the nanny and dragged her back home. They’ve had an ongoing three way for the past 16 years. The man was two wives, each woman has a husband and a wife.

        1. Well, I was talking about that story from about 10 years ago in Reason, but yours sounds hotter.

          1. Actually, checking the chat room, that family is live tweeting the drama of the wife’s family visiting, to find out that the nanny is pregnant. When the wife’s little niece says “Daddy…” her aunt turns to the wife’s sister and says, “What, you’re fucking him too?” This is going on live as I type.

          2. tweeted you details

            1. Damn you, I want details. Or at least updates. This sounds hilarious.

              1. well, Nanny’s explaining to me that wife is the southern belle, rich family. They’ve know about the arrangements, but never liked the husband, because he was the soldier from the wrong side of the tracks, and then they brought in the tramp. So corrupted their little girl.

                1. fess up, you’re just testing out your entry in this years “Bad Bronte Novel” competition.

                  1. I have my own novel, these are folks I met in the author’s chat room.

                    1. I have my own novel

                      what’s it called, i’m between books right now, I read Uncivil Servants’ screed* so I may as well read yours.

                      *Kidding Un Civ , as I said before it didn’t suck.

    3. A cohabitating group has already filed.

      1. If that bunch filed in a State that the feds required to ban polygamy in their constitutions, as a precondition for becoming a State, this will be much more interesting.

    4. I’ll go a step further and say that not only is it coming, it will be an entirely good thing.

      It is already legal for a guy to shack up with multiple women who then bear his kids. He’s just not allowed to enter into a legally-binding contract with one of them. “Married to 3 women under legally binding contracts” seems a hell of a lot better, both from society’s standpoint and that of the women and children, than “married to one woman, shacked up with two more”.

      I do expect it to be rare, though. Polygamy doesn’t last in societies where women enjoy a high degree of autonomy. Women are not, in general, in favor of their husbands having babies with other women.

    5. That’s probably not how polygamy would work. It’s unlikely that you’d marry all your spouses at once, so without performing some kind of record check the clerk would have no way of knowing if the marriage license you’re requesting is a polygamous one.

    6. No, because they’re not legalizing things that were illegal, they’re creating privileges for people they like. Polygamists are uncool, dislike.

  20. You mean to tell me that elected officials aren’t conforming to or enforcing the existing laws? This must truly be a first?

  21. “Is It Finally Time to Get Government Out of the Marriage Business?”

    Can’t happen, as Judge Bunning has stated that the same and different sex couples that were plaintiffs in this Casey have a constitutional right to a marriage license issued by the government (and, issued in the county of their choice.)

    1. Bunning did not say that there was a constitutional right to a marriage license. There is a right to a marriage license under Kentucky law (explicitly for heterosexual couples, and implicitly for gay couples since last month), and there is a federal statute forbidding state officials from denying people rights they are entitled to under local, state, or federal law. Those two facts were the basis of his ruling that Davis could not refuse to provide licenses.

      1. In KY, the only valid solemnized marriages are those for which a ML has been obtained, so no license, no legal marriage.

        Justice Kennedy first stated the new constitutional right to marriage. Because a license is a necessary precondition, Bunning linked those, ruling the couples had a constitutional right to be issued a license.

        Bunning ruled that Davis could not deprive the plaintiffs their due process rights to a marriage by denying them a license, whether same or different sexed.

        1. Kennedy’s claim of a fundamental right to marriage is obiter dicta and thus not binding on lower courts. The question of a fundamental right to marriage was not before the court in Obergefell.

          1. Well, here’s what Bunning had to say about it.

            http://www.aclu-ky.org/wp-cont…..-81215.pdf
            B. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction
            1. Plaintiffs’ likelihood of success on the merits
            a. The fundamental right to marry

            Under the Fourteenth Amendment, a state may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

            Although the Constitution makes no mention of the right to marry, the U.S. Supreme
            Court has identified it as a fundamental interest subject to Fourteenth Amendment
            protection. Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967) (striking down Virginia’s anti-
            miscegenation statutes as violative of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment). After all, “[t]he freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Id. This right applies with equal force to different-sex and same-sex couples. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2604-05 (2015) (“[T]he right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Causes of the Fourteenth Amendment same-sex couples may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”).

        2. Because a license is a necessary precondition

          Circular logic. A license is only a necessary precondition to marriage because the law requires a license before recognizing a marriage.

          There is no right to a license itself — states could abolish marriage licenses if they chose, and just let people marry freely.

          1. I get what you’re saying, but from how the judge worded his decision, I don’t know if that’s what he is thinking.

      2. Of course there’s no right under KY law, but who the hell cares about state law anymore, this is post-Obergfell

    2. Yes, and the government still hates Mormons, so fuck you, polygamists. Missouri had it right when the governor issued an extermination order on your horny hides – so fuck you, Cody & all 4 of your wives.

    1. Vaping is just the updated practice of filling your humidifier with hash oil-infused water and sitting in your smoke room while it fills up like a sauna.*

      *I just made this up.

      1. Well, I vape hash oil and while it is a heat evaporation (the coils in the vape head get quite hot, and wear out fast), you’re not that far off the mark. You can also put dabs/shatter (more terms for the hash oil) on top of a bud you’re going to smoke and get it through your bong, too.

        1. I’ll have to try that sometime.

          I do wonder whether I’d be happier as a liberal smoker than I am an immoderate drinker.

          1. Why not do both? I sure do.

    2. That article made me very worried. I’d better go vape some Unicorn Horn and chill out.

  22. The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.

    Actually, putting government in the anything business was a bad idea to begin with.

  23. Getting government out of the marriage business is fine in theory, but in practice how’s that going to happen?

    Libertarians are few. Leftists have no reason to endorse the proposal. Conservative support will be based entirely on loathing of gay marriage, and said loathing is increasingly less common even among conservatives. It will also be offset by the realization that abolishing marriage licences will place polygamy on the same legal footing as monogamy.

    I just don’t see it happening. We can’t even get government out of the nail-filing business; getting it out of a central cultural institution seems like a hopeless dream.

    1. First – amnesty for anyone jailed for bigamy and polygamy.
      Second – no govt prohibition on 1st cousin marriages.
      Third – more than 2 may constitute a legal marriage constitute a marriage.

      1. Why stop at first cousin marriages?

        1. That is number 4.

    2. Are you kidding? Alabama is on the verge of doing it (which Reason hypocritically opposed because they have “the wrong motives”).

  24. Finally?

    The time to do it was well before gay marriage was a real issue.

    1. Joseph Smith tried to get the govt out of the marriage business over 150 yrs ago. He was murdered because of it.

      Utah exists because a bunch of renegades were intent on “getting govt out of the marriage business”.

      What – did you think Brigham Young went West because of the weather? Or to get govt out of the marriage business?

      1. Not true at all.

        Mormons believe govts exist by the leisure of god, and that they are responsible to god for their actions.

        They also believe in obeying the law, and specifically that sex is legitimized by govt sanction.

        They believe in the constitution, almost like as the word of god, the bible.

        But as govts are subject to judgment of god, ppl are subject to judgment of govt. A descending chain of accountability.

        Gay marriage is extremely problematic for mormons. It legitimizes any gay sex within their church between a SSM couple. Those ppl (married gays) can claim they are obeying god, and the theology of the church will be divided and conflicting because

        1) principles of creation, reproduce after their kind, male and female
        2) govt is divinely appointed arbiter of sex

        Mormons are supposed to only have sex with who they are legally and lawfully married to. Now gays can do their sex acts, and comply with that mormon law.

        1. (cont)

          IMO this ruling makes Mormons insurrectionists who are now morally mandated to overthrow their govt, because they have a special relationship to govt where it is more legitimate and also more responsible to be good. In a way, a link to god, a path to meet his requirements.

          When it comes to marriage, Brigham Young didn’t need to flee to get govt out of the marriage business, he needed to flee to have control over govt marriage (# of wives).

          Its not enough for a mormon to be able to fuck who they want, they need a permission slip from a particular source to obey god. Getting govt out of marriage is not a solution for them, and in fact turns them all into fornicators, as they interpret.

  25. Americans everywhere learned this week just how hard it is to hold accountable an elected official who flagrantly violates the law.
    Sounds like Obama, who has flagrantly violated every immigration law , not to mention EPA regulation.

    1. Net Neutrality? How many times has that been struck down?

    2. Obama, like many other politicians but unlike Davis, has the sense to feign compliance with court orders. Government officials can get away with passive-aggressively ignoring the court. They cannot generally get away with openly telling the court “I plan to ignore anything you say”.

      1. welllll, I interpret that statute differently… (tells aides to carry on)

      2. It’s much harder for a county clerk to do that than the president, who can hide noncompliance behind myriads of layers of bureaucracy at his command, claim executive privilege, claim national security exemptions, and oh yeah he’s the guy lower court judges have to please to get a promotion.

  26. 100% agree with this. Getting out of the marriage business while simplifying the tax code would be ideal I think. 2 for 2 on agreeing with me this week!

  27. Quick – how many polygamists & bigamists are in jail for their non-tradition views on marriage?

    And how many did Gavin Newsom & Jerry Brown put there?

    1. Don’t forget the trigamists.

      1. Poly has the trigs covered

      2. Let’s just call it “plural marriage” and not worry about the bi’s or the tri’s

    2. Is it equal to the amount of gays?

  28. To sum up my end of the discussion:

    The original post said, “Maybe it’s time to start seriously thinking about” how to get the government out of marriage.

    I asked what specific legal scheme the libertarian think tanks should put forward for Congress and/or legislatures to adopt, in order to effect this end.

    The context was how to get the govt out of marriage, not how to make eloquent statements about how this *ought* to happen.

    The proposals suggested in discussion with me include such things as abolishing compulsory testimony and allowing a guy to will all his property to his 18 year old manicurist without allowing any share to his wife of half a century.

    Maybe these are good ideas, but they’ll never be adopted. So the *practical* question in the original post remains: Are libertarians going to think *seriously* about how to get marriage deregulated in the real world?

    I won’t help you out, because I’m not in favor of “deregulation.” But I will certainly point out the…difficulties of getting deregulation passed.

    1. That can be said about anything.

      How do you the income tax? Public schools? Welfare?

      First you decide to do it because its thge right thing to do. Details can follow.

    2. Awesome, I’m glad you’re here to point out that things are difficult. Perhaps SpaceX can hire you to stand in the corner and constantly remind them that getting to space is hard. If they don’t have an opening there are any number of artists that would love to have someone in the room to personify their self doubt… you know, let them know that their never going to make real money painting happy little trees. Perhaps you can negotiate a bonus every time you *seriously* use !PUNCTUATION! to “EmPhAsIzE” your ~—~point~—~.

      1. As to SpaceX, I understand that they won’t actually try to launch their rockets until they’re fairly sure they’ve anticipated potential problems and worked like heck to minimize those problems. Like, before sending their rocket up, they will deal with stuff like designing navigation equipment, preparing an environment suitable for passengers, etc.

        If they took the approach of many libertarians, the SpaceX people would just sit around and speculate about how shooting rockets into space would be So Cool, then passing a joint and calling it a day, without getting anywhere nearer a specific plan for how to get their idea of the, shall we say, launching pad.

        1. Your refusal to acknowledge that

          1. The prohibition to not be compelled to testify against a spouse is not consistent with the rest of the law.
          2. Getting a tax break when you’re married is not some fundamental law of physics that if not observed could fracture the very universe in twain.
          3. Contract law exists and can do all sorts of things (like define what happens should both parties agree to dissolve the contract)
          4. Wills exist and are fairly common things
          5. The idea of grandfathering is not some new, exotic, complicated thing that no one could possibly wrap their heads around
          6. Yeah, people are going to figure out how contracts works, just like they do when they get a credit card, buy a car, buy insurance, buy a home, purchase software, start a new job…..

          does not make abandoning marriage as a government construct impractical no matter how many times you keep repeating it.

          1. “Wills exist”

            And I think a spouse’s forced share should to that extent supersede a will.

            “The prohibition to not be compelled to testify against a spouse is not consistent with the rest of the law.”

            All right, so for the sake of consistency we increase the government’s power to find things out about us, and about our relationships.

            1. “And I think a spouse’s forced share should to that extent supersede a will.”

              So you write it into the contract. Again with the ignoring.

              “All right, so for the sake of consistency we increase the government’s power to find things out about us, and about our relationships.”

              I’ll take your Straw man and substitute one of my own.
              Why do you want to make it easier for husbands and wives to commit crimes Notorious? Are you a criminal? Are you married to a criminal? Do you like the song Smooth Criminal? What are YOU hiding?

              Back in reality:
              Consistency, when it comes to the law (and pretty much everything else) is a wonderful thing. If you have a problem with the government compelling people to testify against others then go fight that fight, but that is a different fight. Society runs into problems when we start to carve out these little niches that only apply to some privileged few.

    3. If we’re looking for ways to get the state out of marriage, push for more states to recognize Common Law marriages. It’s a baby step, but it’s a step.

      Go looking for some sob cases. Where someone was screwed because they were married by a ship captain or someone ordained over the internet, but it turns out they weren’t actually legally married. Get them to do a commercial saying something like, “I love my wife of ten years, and we’ve had three lovely kids together, but because form ul24adf-x wasn’t properly filed, the asbestos recovery firm I work at has denied my wife’s claim to my pension after I die from lung cancer *cough* *cough*, cue Sarah McLachlan music.

      Then go anti-lawyer, since just about everybody hates lawyers. Show some commercials where Sam and Diane got married at age 18, at age 25 they decided that marrying each other was a huge mistake and decided to go their separate ways, sell their house, and split the profits. Now they each have to hire a lawyer to represent them in a divorce. Each side wants nothing more to do with each other, other than sell the house, split the profits and move on with their life. Show some sleazy lawyers on a pile of money. “You didn’t need a lawyer to get married, why do you need one to get divorced?”

      1. “I learned it from watching you Dems, I learned it by watching you.”

    4. Personally, I think the government should get out the marriage business entirely. I would also support abolishing compulsory testimony and allowing people to decide who is going to inherit their stuff.

      In reality, there is no way the government is getting out of marriage, and there is no way that gay marriage will be abolished. It’s not an ideal situation, but neither was having government-sanctioned opposite-sex marriage only.

    5. The libertarian solution to almost everything is secession via seasteading, colonizing the moon, or some other radical, typically futurist secession strategy. As much as we might like to believe otherwise, it’s incomparably difficult to believe that the state would ever permanently remove itself from marriage, particularly given the thousand thousand ways in which it privileges legal spouses in courts or the role that legal marriage has on a court’s treatment of children.

      Beyond that, basic libertarian theory about the nature of the state–that it’s fundamentally a parasite seeking to engorge itself when and where it can–says that it will never, ever give up its lucrative monopoly on marriage unless it had an even stronger financial incentive to turn it over to communities, religions, and other peaceful cultural institutions. You might be able to fiddle around the edges of marriage to get something similar to school choice–expensive marriage vouchers that could be applied to polygamous, gay, or straight marriages as people desire, for instance–but once you start paying the danegeld, the dane isn’t going to spontaneously stop coming around.

  29. I have held the same opinion as the writer since before the gay marriage craze of the 2010’s. At this point I believe the only reason government is in the marriage business is that the cost of reorganizing the system (laws/jobs/logistics/institutions) is higher than maintaining the status quo and continuing to apply bandages (e.g., “legalizing” gay marriage, or whatever else the market demands). Even our early thinkers (J.S. Mills) agreed that an individual’s freedom to unite and pursue one’s own taste, regardless of prevailing morals, is a basic requirement for a free society.

  30. You dismiss the possibility of impeachment hearings, but consider how this would have gone down if this whole affair, from start to finish, was done through the legislature where it belonged :

    1. The Kentucky legislature passes same-sex marriage by a majority vote. 2. A public official refuses to comply with the law the legislature passes. 3. To defend its own law, the legislature has the will to initiate impeachment hearings, and they vote to remove her. 4. Kim Davis refuses to vacate office. 5. She’s put in jail without any controversy, because this wasn’t about a disagreement about legal opinion, it was about the legislature’s authority to remove a public official.

    This, instead, is how it went.

    2. The Supreme Court enacts an interpretation of the law that was unsettled and unobvious across every state in the land. 2. A public official disagrees with the interpretation of the court and refuses to comply. 3. The legislature lacks the will for impeachment hearings, and the governor lacks the will to call a special session. 4. Kim Davis refuses to comply with the court. 5. She’s put in jail by contempt of court, even though the proper process was impeachment and removal, and controversy ensues.

    Now, the author here, instead of recognizing that this is why the Supreme Court should have never ruled this way on the matter — which is the most obvious conclusion you could come to — instead says this is why government shouldn’t be in marriage — a complete non-sequitor.

    1. The Supreme Court enacts an interpretation of the law that was unsettled and unobvious across every state in the land

      Interpreting “law that is unsettled and unobvious across every state in the land” is the primary reason the Supreme Court exists.

      1. An odd perspective given that states have their own supreme courts.

      2. An odd view, considering that the Court’s role is just to enforce laws that were agreed to beforehand by legislatures or assemblies. The framers often spoke of the states “acceding” to laws, meaning that the laws were something everybody shook their hands on. Similar to when when you form a personal contract with someone, you’re actually agreeing to something in particular, not a document of philosophy.

        The reason certain court decisions are controversial is because its not apparent to anyone that what the courts are ruling is what people actually agreed to when the law was written.

        Its odd that a lot of libertarians admire Thomas Jefferson, because Jefferson would have argued it exactly this way. Laws are not philosophy papers.

  31. This discussion is off track.

    The reason for the marriage ‘contract’ is to bear and raise children. THE STATE needs the next generation to come along and take over. THE STATE needs the MAN AND WOMAN
    Marriage is NOT for tax breaks, shared expenses, love, or sex.

    Marriage is not for two guys to get tax breaks.

    1. Yeah I cannot really find fault with what you’re saying.

      I’m all about legal rights, but what is marriage really? I fully recognize two consenting adults being together, legally. I have never had a personal problem with that. I will respect their civil liberties, and agree that they have the right to formally be together.

      But is a marriage contract about benefits and tax breaks? I never saw it that way. Maybe I’m wrong.

    2. The reason for the marriage contract is whatever reason the people getting married have for getting married.

    3. The state primarily needs (read: wants) the fee for the marriage license, which is fundamentally just another toll booth on the great etatist highway of life.

      It’s more than a little disturbing that people believe reflexively that a marriage isn’t “real” unless they have a tidy, expensive certificate from the king assuring them that they are, in fact, married. The degree to which the state has undermined cultural and/or religious traditions and placed itself at the center of what is fundamentally a nuanced cultural debate is impressive.

      1. “The state primarily needs (read: wants) the fee for the marriage license”

        It seems to me that it’s more about asserting the State’s authority over and regulation of the nature of the relationship of two spouses and their progeny. By becoming licensed to marry, the licensees implicitly agree to their State’s rather expansive authority and regulation regarding their duties to each other and to their offspring. The State is inherently a party in a licensed marriage: it grants the license subject to its terms. That’s why lawyers become necessary even if the partners later decide to divorce on the most amicable of terms. The spouses cannot themselves dissolve their marriage under mutually agreeable terms: the State must grant a divorce.

        It is absurd for genuine libertarians to celebrate the expansion the State’s authority and regulation of intimate relationships. In its advocacy of State-licensed homosexual marriage, the libertine wing of the libertarian movement demonstrates that it far more interested in tormenting traditionalists than in advancing genuine libertarianism.

        1. I wouldn’t call them libertines, though I don’t have any interest in a person’s sexual preference. From what I can tell, there are two kinds of libertarian: the first believes that states are protection rackets indistinct from mafia families, while the second views them as a sometimes unfortunate fact of life.

          The first set would oppose the state interfering in literally anything under any circumstances for the same reason they would oppose the mafia participating in it: the institution is untrustworthy because of its violent nature, no matter which saint is running it. The second tries to change the state’s behavior at the margins in the hopes that this state can be better than others.

          The second group do much more good than harm, but sometimes I have to wonder whether they haven’t taken their eye off the ball. The state permitting different permutations of “legal” marriage makes its treatment of marriage less arbitrary, but it also further embeds the state in the institutions of marriage and family that desperately need coercion out of the way.

  32. A common-sense idea whose time has come

  33. The fundamental problem is that government discriminates on the basis of marital status.

    As long as government discriminates on the basis of marital status, there will be a problem. It doesn’t matter who defines marriage.

  34. The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.

    First, it will doubtless be news to most priests, pastors, and rabbis that marriage IS a business!

    Second, just how long HAS private enterprise been in the “marriage business”? What experience do they have?

    Third, if marriage is a “business” does that mean that divorce is a “business” too? (I can almost see the TV ads now: “Why stay married to the same loser for 40 years? Drop in to your local Big Bucks Divorce Corporation centre today and discuss your future with us.”)

    It’s exceedingly easy to hold private organizations and individuals accountable for their actions.

    Really? Perhaps someone can remind us just how many banks have been held accountable for the last few financial crises.

    Oh, and BTW, just who is it who holds such organisation and individuals account? The same lot who issue marriage licenses and the author of this articles want to have them get out of that line of work,

    I won’t go so far as to say that getting rid of government marriage licenses is the libertarian position…

    Getting rid of government marriage licenses for private enterprise issued ones makes about as much sense as replacing government birth certificates and death certificates for private enterprise ones.

    The author of this article has clearly not thought her proposition through.

    1. Wow! That’s really persuasive! Not!

      1. I notice you don’t bother listing your objections. What do you imagine that says?

  35. Getting rid of marriage licenses most certainly *is* the only intellectually consistent libertarian position. It simply does not compute to call oneself a libertarian and yet continue to support having the government issue out paid permission slips for private consensual relationships, the benefits of which can all be attained through private contracts instead. Libertarians who argue this point are just liberals in disguise who want to advance a social agenda that they deem to be morally superior to conservative, Christian values?which in practice makes them no different from right-wing evangelicals seeking to impose their definition of marriage upon everyone; they’re just coming at it from the other side.

    Libertarians who refuse to defend Kim Davis are also demonstrating their hypocrisy. They support defiance of the state at all other times and reducing its power to throw people in cages for not abiding by its self-serving laws?except when it’s a law they agree with. Give me a break.

    1. If you read my comment above, it is obvious that I completely agree with your first paragraph.

      However, I am not going to defend Kim Davis. She is an agent of the State who, until recently, has enjoyed living at taxpayer expense by issuing marriage licenses. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

      Of course, I oppose the State’s authority to put Kim Davis in a cage, but that’s an entirely different matter.

      1. “Of course, I oppose the State’s authority to put Kim Davis in a cage, but that’s an entirely different matter.”

        The way I see it, either Davis is defiantly and persistently breaking the law, or the Supreme Court is. Now, I think it’s the Supreme Court which is defying the law, not Davis. But what do I know, I probably want to bring back the Spanish Inquisition too.

        But for those of you who think Davis in engaged in ongoing defiance of the law, the question is what should the federal government do about it? They can let her get away with it, or they can use some kind of force to get her to do what they want. That force could be in the form of fines – which will probably end up involving sending armed people to take her house when she refuses to pay – or the form of imprisonment – which is the course the court took.

        When dealing with someone who is accused of lawbreaking but is then willing to turn themselves in, force need only be threatened, not used. The person will “voluntarily” appear in court and submit to the court’s decision. But someone who is determined to keep disobeying the law – I’m not sure how to deal with such persistent defiance short of caging them or taking their stuff at gunpoint.

        The case is easier for me because I believe Davis’ imprisonment is ultimately based on lawless federal usurpation. So of course I don’t want her imprisoned. But what about you?

        1. Of course she should not be in jail. Lots of people now in jail should not be. The US is positively barbaric in the way it uses incarceration. There are something like sixty countries in the world that have smaller populations than the number of those incarcerated in the US.

          She should not be issuing marriage licenses either. Neither should anybody else. Marriage licensing is an archaic, anti-libertarian state function in a diverse, post-Christian country.

    2. If you get rid of marriage licences how do you prove you ARE married?

  36. An Update.

    According to a Radio Talk Show host, Kim Davis’s only reason for not permitting her subordinates from signing the marriage licenses was that her name would be on them. She and her lawyer have asked that her name be taken off of the documents. Once that is done, she will permit her staff to sign the marriage licenses.

    If this turns out to be true, my opinion of her changes drastically.

    1. She’s a state employee paid via tax dollars to hand out paid permits for couples who want to get married. She’s also directly insubordinate to her superiors in the chain of command, which is like being a mafia goon and then refusing orders from your capo because you disagree with his theological views.

      I know that libertarians have a unique perspective that most others wouldn’t understand, and I try to have sympathy for normal people who don’t understand our dislike for statism, but it’s difficult to have much sympathy for this person. She’s an elected official with a job to do, saying nothing about whether that job is moral, decent, or necessary in a better world.

      If she couldn’t do that job with a clear conscience, she should’ve resigned rather than trying to play the martyr. If you work at the DMV and are suddenly struck by the realization that the state has no business denying people permits to drive on “public” roads, it might just be time to step down from that position rather than preaching the gospel to the marks standing in line who just want to get back to the office before their lunch hour is up.

      1. Signing and recording marriage documents is only one of the functions that her job entails. Remember also, that the rules under which she was elected have changed; it’s not as if she took the job knowing that she would have to sign marriage licenses for gay couples, and then refused to do so,

        I have been an ardent libertarian since pre-Reagan, and I don’t understand how any other libertarian could support the Court’s decision. The Court found a Right that doesn’t exist in the Constitution and then limited their decision to only cover couples — and we’re applauding them?

        Also, your comparison to the DMV worker is off base. She didn’t just come to the belief that gay marriages are wrong, she came to the job with that belief. Plus, the State Law and the majority of the people in her State supported that belief.

        As to being a martyr; well, I respect real martyrs. These are the things I still want to know before I can determine if she is truly a martyr.

        (1). Did she truly offer to permit her office to sign marriage licenses if the County took her name off of them?
        (2) When was this offer made: before or after she was jailed?
        (3) Why did the County (or the State) not take her up on the offer?

        1. “Also, your comparison to the DMV worker is off base. She didn’t just come to the belief that gay marriages are wrong, she came to the job with that belief.”

          She’s not off the hook when Don Tattaglia changes his mind about the arbitrary nature of state-sponsored marriage. She made the decision to lie with dogs, and she doesn’t get to complain now that she’s awoken with fleas.

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  38. marriages are SOCIETY’s business. it’s a societal construct.
    since society delegates power to it’s government,it rightfully becomes government’s concern and area of authority.

    marriage is a societal institution,ever since the first tribe joined a man and woman.
    Said ceremony generally being done by the tribal chief; their “government”.
    Religions merely ADOPTED the practice,regularized it and kept better records,because they recognized the benefits to everyone.

    marriage isn’t any “right”,people have always had to meet some criteria to get married. No close relatives,no “underage” mates(varies state-state,country-country),man-woman. In other societies,you had to get permission from the parents,from the lord or master,the church,witch doctor,shaman,etc.
    Marriage has always been a privilege,in every society.

    The problem here is that Federal judges and SCOTUS unconstitutionally interfered in the states right to define marriage per their voting population. Opinion polls don’t count.
    And SCOTUS has NO Constitutional authority to redefine marriage.

    This was never about EQUAL rights anyways,because QRs already had the EQUAL right to marry,**as marriage was defined**; man-woman. Many QRs -did- marry that way( for several reasons),so it’s dishonest to claim they were denied marriage under the law.
    Instead,SCOTUS chose to redefine a term understood for several millennia as a man-woman union,just to support the mental illness and delusions of a tiny segment of the population.

  39. The whole foofaraw should serve as a reminder that putting government in the marriage business was probably a bad idea to begin with.

    Well, given that marriage licenses originated with churches and reflect their religions view, I guess they have been hoisted by their own petards.

    I don’t see any reason to get government out of marriage until churches actually are willing to give up their privileges. So far, they seem to be simply lobbying for a return to the previous legal situation, and as long as that is their position, they can get lost.

    1. AFAIC, churches are welcome to “license” marriage in the same way that gurus can “license” people to pass on their teachings. It’s when that licensing becomes monopolistic and enforced through violence (e.g., no one can be considered married unless the Catholic church condones it, and we’ll burn any heretic who says otherwise) that it’s problematic.

      Common law marriage seems the most obvious and easiest liberal solution to the problem, which is probably why no one’s talking about or taking it seriously.

      1. I’ve been arguing for broader acceptance of Common Law Marriages. Hell, Common law marriages usually have stricter requirements than other marriages.

        Get shitfaced in Vegas marry a cocktail waitress, and you’re legally married in all 50 states. (Admittedly, you could apply for an annulment if you were drunk. )

        Spend a decade cohabiting with your spouse, acting like husband and wife, have three kids and a mortgage together, and in most states, the state won’t recognize you as being married unless the correct forms were filled out.

      2. The question is not whether government should get out of the marriage business; any libertarian agrees with that. The question is what priority the issue should receive from libertarians.

        At this point, the only people who are really bothered by what happened with government-licensed marriage are some churches and some their followers. But these people aren’t even advocating a libertarian solution, they just want to go back to the old ways, while maintaining the same civil rights and public accommodation privileges for themselves that they would deny groups they don’t like.

        Why should libertarians prioritize or even waste breath on something that is only of interest of a bunch of privileged, liberty-hating statist hypocrites?

  40. I’ve been arguing for broader acceptance of Common Law Marriages. Hell, Common law marriages usually have stricter requirements than other marriages.

    Get shitfaced in Vegas marry a cocktail waitress, and you’re legally married in all 50 states. (Admittedly, you could apply for an annulment if you were drunk. )

    Spend a decade cohabiting with your spouse, acting like husband and wife, have three kids and a mortgage together, and in most states, the state won’t recognize you as being married unless the correct forms were filled out.

    ???? ????? ????? ????
    ???? ????? ????

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  43. I’ll go a step further and say that not only is it coming, it will be an entirely good thing.

    It is already legal for a guy to shack up with multiple women who then bear his kids. He’s just not allowed to enter into a legally-binding contract with one of them. “Married to 3 women under legally binding contracts” seems a hell of a lot better, both from society’s standpoint and that of the women and children, than “married to one woman, shacked up with two more”.

    I do expect it to be rare, though. Polygamy doesn’t last in societies where women enjoy a high degree of autonomy. Women are not, in general, in favor of their husbands having babies with other women.

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