Today, the debate on gay marriage is not about granting individuals the freedom to marry an individual of their same sex, but about whether the state should recognize such unions. When gay couples marry in states (or countries) which grant licenses for such unions and return to states which do not, they do not suffer the fate the Lovings did in the 1960s. The authorities do not threaten them with arrest, request that they leave the jurisdiction or demand that they live apart.
They merely fail to grant them the privileges they extend to different-sex couples who have secured a marriage license. Let us bear this in mind as we debate this most important issue.
Let us not turn to the government as the source of our liberty lest we become dependent on state action to take care of those things we can effect on our own — without their intervention, but be ever vigilant against its encroachments on our liberty.
Dan, you know I like you personally, but my god.
The idea of governments granting certain rights, privileges and responsibilities is not new. No gay couple is “turning to the government as the source of [their] liberty,” except in those ways which are already granted, and have always been granted, to different-gendered couples. No one is looking for “state action” in any special way except that which is granted to the rest of the population. And let us not pretend for one second that this has anything to do with religion, as heterosexual couples are free to marry, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.
We can play the “government should get out of the marriage business” game all we want, but it’s not going to happen in any of our lifetimes. The actual status quo is that the government of this nation provides a shitload of rights to married couples, and discriminates against same-sex couples based on medieval notions of what “marriage” is.
I appreciate the idea that we should not always look to the government to define our freedoms, really, I do. But let us not forget that the word “freedom” doesn’t just include “freedom to’s,” but also “freedom from’s,” which would naturally include things like “freedom from my husband being sent back to his nation of origin, even though he’s my sole caregiver, as I am suffering from AIDS, simply because my nation’s laws are not yet grown-up enough to recognize our relationship as a marriage.”
Simply put: there is no purpose for civil marriage, save for the rights the government grants to the arrangement. People do not get married in their churches for those rights — that sanctification is up to them. But heterosexual couples sanctify their marriages that way with the implicit understanding that with that decision comes, again, a shitload of government-granted rights that are not available to non-married people.
So you are right — the government doesn’t grant the right of two men to commit to each other, to love one another, and to live out the rest of their lives together. But it sure does hold the power to decide whether that relationship is worth a damn from a legal perspective, and unless you’re one of the 1% of the population [I know, I know, wingnuts all imagine that they either are part of that group or will be part of that group one day, but it's a silly pipe dream] who can afford to make all those legal arrangements on your own, you’re screwed without those marital rights.
So, please, have an argument with me about “liberty” and “freedom,” because I’m jonesing for it.