Hit Counter

Visitor Number
View My Stats

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The State, Gay Marriage, and "Equal Rights"

This week, the New York State Legislature is expected to vote on whether to legalize gay marriage within the state. Celebrities have, pardon the pun, come out on various different sides of the issue. Most are extremely supportive. However, some are ardently against it, including former New York Giant and Super Bowl hero David Tyree, who said that gay marriage would "be the beginning of our country sliding toward ... anarchy". (Although some of my fellow UConn students in UConn Students for Liberty would say that's a good thing) If you want my brief opinion on what I would do if I were an NY State Senator, see the end of this post. If you want a more in-depth analysis, read on.

In all this debate, one side of the issue never gets mentioned: why have legally sanctioned marriage at all? Is it really right for the government to dictate who can and can't marry eachother? Here's what I propose (and many libertarians share my opinion)

End government-regulated marriage. Allow any group of two (or more, see below for more commentary on this) consenting adults to enter into a legal partnership (which would have a neutral name and would NOT be called "marriage") by filling out a few papers. This would give them all the rights and responsibilities that marriage currently gives, and frankly, you can give most of those to another person who you're not married to by filling out papers anyway.

Then, allow for private marriage ceremonies. These could be religious (as in at a church or other house of worship) or secular. If the Catholic Church doesn't want to sanction same-sex marriage, don't force them to (as NYS would reportedly attempt to do). Gay couples can go to another church/religious entity, or opt for the secular route (see below).

Of course, interfaith couples, athiest couples, or anyone else who doesn't want to be married by a house of worship can opt for a secular route. This would be similar to getting married by a justice of the peace, except that the person performing the ceremony would not be licensed by the state. If the couple wants a mutual friend to officiate the ceremony, they can do so. The marriage ceremony itself would have no impact in the legal sense (as only the document I discussed above would create the legal partnership), so it wouldn't matter who performed it.

This way, the religious individuals who feel marriage should be between a man and a woman can join a church who feels the same way, get married in said church, and protect the sanctity of their marriage. However, gay couples would still be entitled to the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual couples, and would be able to get a full marriage ceremony, even if that ceremony had no legal impact. And keep in mind the marriage ceremony itself would have no legal consequence for ANY couples, so it doesn't constitute discrimination.

Above, I mentioned the quote "two OR MORE consenting adults". This is because some people believe in polygamy or polyandry. Most notably, many Mormons believe that a man should have multiple wives. In this case, the man in question could obtain a legal partnership (or whatever we're calling it) with all his wives, while taking into account that certain benefits can generally only be applied to one person. For example, complications might arise with regards to who would be given guardianship of children should the husband die. This could easily be resolved however, by the husband stating who would receive these rights when he fills out the necessary paperwork to create the partnership (or when the children are born, depending on circumstances).

This would also allow for more irregular marriages, such as group marriages or line marriages. I know many groups do not condone these unions and may even consider them immoral, but it is not the government's position to declare them universally wrong. Most religious bodies would likely choose not to sanction these marriages, and that of course is their right. But for those who do choose to engage in these partnerships, they may do so with full rights, responsibilities, and ceremonies presently offered by marriage.

People are debating about whether "marriage equality" must involve gay marriage. However, as a recent Libertarian Party release phrased it, "marriage equality [is] only one step towards ending legal discrimination." To quote the release:

"Marriage equality is not enough, .... I've heard some people express concern that allowing gay marriage would send us down a slippery slope. I hope it does. We should settle for nothing less than a society in which the legal code is wiped clean of references to a person's sexual identity or depends on how many sexual partners they have. It is disgraceful that we grant government officials the power to even examine such things, let alone criminalize any peaceful conduct between consenting adults or punish them with unequal marriage, adoption, tax, or immigration laws."

Therefore, we should outlaw any legal definition of marriage and simply allow any consenting adults to enter into a neutrally-named legal partnership.If they wish to have a private marriage ceremony performed for religious, personal, or any other reasons, they may certainly do so. And if people who don't support gay marriage wish to be married by an entity that also doesn't, they may do so and as such feel that their marriage sanctity has not been violated.

Now, for my opinion on how I would vote as an NYS Senator (as promised above): given the circumstances, I wholeheartedly would support the bill. However, I feel it is only an intermediate step towards truly ending discrimination. If you just skipped down here and don't get that reference, go back up and read the whole article.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Forget Weiner - Congress Will Still Screw Us!

Yeah, that got you to look, didn't it?

Well, now the news has broken - New York Representative Anthony Weiner has admitted to sending several sexually explicit photos to young females, yet he will not resign. But the best part is - his wife is Hillary Clinton's aide. Well, at least they'll be able to start a White House support group for women with unfaithful husbands.

But seriously, what point am I trying to make here - after all, there are crooked politicians from all ideologies who lie and cheat (the latter in more ways than one). So am I saying that I feel a libertarian politician would be more honest than a liberal or conservative one? No. I'd hope that a libertarian politician would keep his integrity, but I'd hope the same for any other politician as well. But inevitably, some of us will give in to our moral weaknesses and do things we regret. As Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the Libertarian National Committee said in his weekly email message this past Monday,
That's one of the reasons why government should have as little power as possible. When human beings have the power to control others' lives, our natural fallibility makes us very dangerous.

What's worse, power tends to corrupt us and make us even more dishonest, conniving, and cruel.

We Libertarians understand that humans are fundamentally imperfect, and we will always be imperfect.

Libertarians aren't simply looking for honest politicians. We are looking for politicians who understand this problem, and who will stand on principle to take power away from government, and return it to the individual.

For those who are unfamiliar with libertarianism, Benedict uses "Libertarian" with a capital "L" because he is referring to the party. I use "libertarian" with a lower-case "l" in most cases because I am referring to followers of the philosophy, who may or may not be LP members.

But back on topic, of course there is a chance a libertarian leader in a libertarian government would do something wrong. I won't deny that. But as Benedict says, that leader would have less power and authority. So, that leader would not be as capable of having his actions spill over and effect the American well-being. If Rep. Weiner had no discretion in his personal life, why should we expect him to have discretion in his political affairs?

In fact, as Wayne Allyn Root noted on his blog, Congressman Weiner introduced a bill to loosen immigration requirements for foreign models. Don't get me wrong, I support the loosening of immigration requirements, so in theory, this would be a good law (although it shouldn't just be for models). However, you'd be kidding yourself if you thought Weiner was doing this merely because he supported open borders. He wasn't thinking out of the goodness of his heart, but out of the goodness of his ... err, let's go with "the goodness of his last name".

First of all, Anthony Weiner should definitely resign from Congress immediately. As I said, if he can't control his personal life, why should we expect him to be able to control his politics? In fact, as we saw through the model bill, he has already exhibited signs of indiscretion in that area. Second, we need to create a country with less government so that leaders like Weiner and like Governor Schwarzenegger from California who, like all humans, are prone to exhibiting indiscretion, do not have the power to exhibit that behavior in political affairs.

In fact, I said "like all humans". That is key. No human is perfect. So it would be crazy to expect our leaders to be perfect. I recognize this. That is exactly why we need to place more responsibility on the individual for their own affairs and less responsibility on the government. The logic behind this is twofold. First, the obvious - politicians are prone to indiscretion. So we need to do damage control before they cause damage.

Second, citizens are prone to indiscretions. And the government should not be policing our minor indiscretions and charging 18-year-olds with felonies, thus giving them a criminal record and ruining their entire life, merely because they had seventeen grams of marijuana in their possession which they may or may not have been smoking. The War on Drugs is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that many young adults are seeing their whole future ruined by a far-too-powerful government merely because of one indiscretion.

And for those who still feel strongly about drug prohibition, there are plenty of other examples. A CNN story from 2009 reported that eighteen-year-old Phillip Alpert was mad at his sixteen-year old girlfriend after a fight. So, in a momentary indiscretion, he sent a nude photo of her to dozens of her friends and family. He had just turned eighteen when this happened, and was charged with distribution of child pornography and placed on a sex-offender list for the rest of his life. The sex-offender list should be for rapists and pedophiles, not an eighteen-year-old boy who made one bad decision. Not to mention the fact that I must question whether someone deserves to essentially be blacklisted for life for one bad decision even if that decision was rape (that, once again, is beyond the scope of this article). Don't get me wrong, many people on the sex offender list deserve to be there, but those like Mr. Alpert certainly do not.

In fact, what Rep. Weiner did was far worse than what Mr. Alpert did, but Weiner is going to remain in Congress while Alpert essentially ruined his whole life. That doesn't seem fair. If someone in any regular profession had done what Weiner did, sending hundreds of explicit photos and messages to multiple young women over three years, then (perhaps inadvertently) posted one of those photos to my twitter feed, I would be fired from my job and you could safely bet that no employer would want to hire me. That's the kind of thing for which you somewhat deserve to be blacklisted. But Weiner, being a politician and using the authority that that position brings him, will remain in power, and will keep making our laws and running our country. That doesn't seem fair. But as I said, even without Weiner, the federal government is ruining this country. And that will continue until the role of government is substantially downsized.