A License To Marry? Why?

A License To Marry?....Why?

“License” : a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful    Merriam-Webster

Why should we need a license to be married anyway?  It’s not like it requires some sort of diploma or successful completion of courses at a marriage trade school or something.  The ability to fog a mirror is considered to be sufficient qualification.

It may surprise some to learn that we didn’t always have marriage licenses.  George Washington didn’t have a marriage license.  Neither did James Madison, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln.  Before the Civil War there was really no such thing as a marriage license.  Governments only got into the business of requiring their permission to be married, in the form of a license, in order to prevent blacks and whites from marrying each other after slavery ended.

From Wikipedia under “marriage license” :

"For most of Western history, marriage was a private contract between two families. Until the 16th-century, Christian churches accepted the validity of a marriage on the basis of a couple’s declarations. If two people claimed that they had exchanged marital vows—even without witnesses—the Catholic Church accepted that they were validly married.

State courts in the United States have routinely held that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage.  Marriage license application records from government authorities are widely available starting from the mid-19th century. Some are available dating from the 17th century in colonial America. But marriage licenses were not required until after the civil war. Marriage licenses from their inception have sought to establish certain prohibitions on the institution of marriage. These prohibitions have changed throughout history. In the 1920s, they were used by 38 states to prohibit whites from marrying blacks, mulattos, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Mongolians, Malays or Filipinos without a state approved license."

Just as mixed race couples shouldn’t have to seek the government’s approval, neither should same sex couples.  Marriages should be left to people’s spiritual homes, be they churches, or whatever fits their own beliefs.  The legal aspects could be handled easily by civil-partner contracts for all couples who want them.  These contracts would provide all the legal protections of a current marriage license and we would all have the right to enter into such a contract, gay or straight.  Actually, civil-partner, or civil-union contracts could be useful for even for couples that want to merge their affairs for non-romantic reasons, such as elderly widowed sisters that live together, which is rather common.

Leaving it to the government to define what is a marriage, then forcing whatever they decide on the rest of us, is what is causing all this acrimony.  If the government were to make it official policy that Chevys were better than Fords, and that we should all drive Chevys, then the Ford drivers would be fighting with the Chevy drivers.  Wait…they’ve already sort of done that.  Well, you get my point.

Why are we allowing such an important cultural decision to be made by the Stephen Sweeneys and Barack Obamas of this world who can “evolve” (or mutate or whatever they want to call it) faster than an influenza virus?  Nobody is even saying, except for perhaps Obama himself, that the president’s sudden “evolution” was triggered by anything other than the (most recent) gaffe by Vice-President Joe Biden.  The president’s “bold” move on this issue is actually nothing more than political spin and damage control.  This is hardly the way to steer a great civilization such as ours.

The only thing most of our leaders care about is getting campaign contributions and winning the next election.  So let’s leave how our civilization defines marriage up to our civilization itself and not in the hands of a bunch of mutating, self-serving politicians.

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jennifer May 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM
While Dave is throwing Obama under the bus for coming out in favor of same sex marriage, how can he not add that Dick Chaney came out a few years ago for same sex marriage (even though his party opposes it vehemently) because he has a daughter who is a lesbian and in a committed relationship. Now - did he come out with his changed decision because of politics or because he sees that his own daughter is entitled to the same rights as everyone else with regard to marriage? And I am sure it personally hurts him that she is not given the same rights as everyone else because she is gay. When these issues hit home, people (even vile people like Dick Chaney) see how very unfair it is that same sex couples do not have equal rights.
Dave Schneck May 21, 2012 at 12:07 PM
It was because Obama's flip-flop, and his silly explanation of it, made news recently. It really has nothing to do with the fact that Sweeney and Obama are both Democrats. In my blog, www.commonsenseforbemar.com I have poked fun at Chris Christie and other Republicans plenty.
Dave Schneck May 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
That's www.commonsenseforbelmar.com Sorry for the typo.
Eggs-n-Toast May 21, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Excellent point, Jennifer.
Mattie May 21, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Yeah Jerseyswamps, I think we're pretty much on the same page. However, there's one tiny point I would tweak - You said: "Just leave the word "marriage" to those couples who are not the same sex." I would change that to: "Just leave the word "marriage" to those couples married by CLERGY - no matter WHAT genders make up the couple". Why? Two reasons; 1. SOME churches / clergy DO recognize same-sex marriages and do not have huge issues with gay acceptance. 2. If you're going to separate the religious ceremony from the government recognized "civil union", its got to be separate all the way, no matter who the religious "marriage" covers. In other words, 2 people can get married in a church, temple, synagogue - where ever they do religious services - and they can be man/woman, or not, doesn't matter; BUT the government will not recognize their "marriage" for *any* legal reason or benefit, until they register/apply for CIVIL UNION status. See what I'm saying? I really think it would be very fair that way, don't you?


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