The Minnesota Marriage Amendment

Last year SF 1308 was passed. What this bill did was put up to voter consideration whether or not gay marriage should be allowed within the state of Minnesota. The text is as follows:

An amendment to the Minnesota Constitution is proposed to the people. If the amendment is adopted, a section shall be added to article XIII, to read:
Sec. 13. Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

(a) The proposed amendment must be submitted to the people at the 2012 general election. The question submitted must be:”Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?

….. ”

(b) The title required under Minnesota Statutes, section 204D.15, subdivision 1, for the question submitted to the people under paragraph (a) shall be “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman.”

So far I’ve made no real comment regarding this bill as I’ve been busy analyzing and discussing the numerous other horrible pieces of legislation moving their way through both Minnesota’s and the federal legislature. The arguments regarding this seem to fall on either the supporter, who believe this amendment is necessary because of their religious beliefs, and the opposition, who believe marriage is about love and separation of church and state should prevent this amendment. Obviously both sides have numerous ancillary arguments that demonstrate this amendment as necessary or unjust but few seem to be brining up the real issue: voluntary association.

Marriage, as recognized in our society, has two components: religious and contractual. The state shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of religion as it is a private institution. If the Catholic Church doesn’t want to recognize a marriage between two men or two women that’s their business. The aspect of marriage I wish to focus on is the contractual side, the side the state truly meddle in.

When one marries another they make numerous agreements including joint ownership of property and power over life and death matters when one of the two is incapacitated (for instance one spouse can legally decide whether or not to pull the plug on life support for their comatose spouse). As the state maintains a monopoly on the courts they also get to say what is and isn’t recognized as a contractual agreement, a situation that is flat out disgusting in my eyes.

I’m a voluntaryist and therefore believe in voluntary association. If two men wish to make a contractual agreement to share ownership or property or grant each power of attorney over the other that’s their business. It is nobody’s business who you choose to association with nor how you choose to associate with that person so long as both parties are associating voluntarily. I’ve presented this fact to my friends who oppose the marriage amendment only to hear statements like, “You’re probably right but that’s just not practical because of taxes and stuff.” My statement regarding legal matters using legal arguments is impractical so they’re basicing their argument around an arbitrary idea like love… and that is why they face a real chance of losing this debate.

Of course I’m not going to simply pretent the tax angle doesn’t exist, it does and it’s a huge problem. Why? Because not only is taxation theft but it’s also a form of social engineering. The state wishes to promote marriage so they grant tax benefits to those who are married. Likewise the state wishes to stop people from smoking cigarettes so they place a high tax on tobacco. You can guess what agents of the state want you to do based on how they tax that activity; if they add a tax they don’t want you to do it and if they allow you to deduct the activity on your taxes they want you to do it. This becomes messy when the state’s attempt as social engineering collide with unforeseen circumstances. At this point more state agents with new agendas move in with new legislation to deal with the new circumstances that are making things difficult (often they’ll call the existence of the circumstance a loophole as a way to justify more legislation to correct the problem in a way they find favorable).

The general social acceptance of homosexuality has created on of those circumstances. When state agents first punched up the tax codes giving those who are married breaks they did so to promote state recognized marriages but never took homosexual marriage into account because, at the time, homosexuality was severely ostracized (just ask Alan Turing). Now that the social stigma is gone the state agents who use their religious beliefs to dictate legislation are scurrying to make another form of voluntary association illegal.

Unfortunately what many people don’t see is the real statement being made by those supporting this legislation, which is that they’re willing to use the state’s capacity for violence to interfere with the free and voluntary association of individuals. By making same sex marriage illegal the state is also refusing to recognize the contractual aspect, an important matter as the state also has a monopoly on the courts. It’s not just the tax breaks but other issues like joint property ownership and power of attorney. By trying to prohibit any form of marriage between those able to make contractual agreements the state is attempting to interfere with the right of individuals to associate with who and how they want. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the real issue, not any debate regarding arbitrary (as far as the law is concerned) concepts like morality or love.

Some are also apt to bring up that this is being done the “right” way as a constitutional amendment. These people often believe that amending something to a constitution makes it clear and legal, a belief I do not share. Constitutionalists generally believe that returning to a society that is regulated strictly by the Constitution will made all good again. I fully admit that returning to a society that adheres to the Constitution would be a great start, I don’t believe it would be the best possible society. As a libertarian I believe in the inalienable right to self-ownership and the non-aggression principle. Whether a constitution grants the state authority to initiate violence against the populace or not is irrelevant to me. Nothing can justify the initiation of violence (which any act, outside of non-violent persuasion, that attempts to prohibition voluntary association is) in my book. Were the Minnesota or federal Constitution amended to make the act of beating a homosexuals legal I wouldn’t care, I would still find the act entirely illegal and would work to ensure homosexuals had a means of defending themselves against those acting upon the new amendment.

It’s probably obvious that I oppose the marriage amendment, and I do so based on the fact that it interferes with voluntary association. Whether that interference be authorized by the state constitution, federal constitution, or any other document isn’t relevant in my opinion.