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The idea that we must beg the government for permission to marry … should be repugnant to every freedom-loving American. So long as people are not hurting anyone, they should be permitted to marry whomever they wish. …

At the basic level, marriage is simply a contract between two people. … Because of that, people would still not be permitted to marry children (who can’t enter into contracts) … or animals (who can’t enter into contracts). …

Marriage should be beyond the power of the state to control. This contract view of marriage is how humans in the Western world saw it for centuries. Marriage, throughout most of Western history, was a private affair. Indeed, early marriages occurred when the couple simply said, “I marry you.” Neither priest nor government agent nor witness needed to be present. Often, cohabitation for a period of time was enough to validate the marriage in the community. There was no license from the government or the church. It just happened.

Eventually, the church began recording marriages and requiring a ceremony in the late Middle Ages. In the 17th century, some jurisdictions began issuing marriage licenses (though a form of licensure can be found in Great Britain as early as the 13th century, but that was usually more about public notice than permission), which became widespread about the mid-19th century. So the tradition of marriage is one absent of state control. It is only in later years, with the growth of the administrative state, that marriage became something that required permission from the state. It’s time we end this recent development and give people the freedom to live, and marry, as they wish.

Thomas Lucente
The Lima News, March 31, 2013

Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is a veteran of the Iraq war, has a bachelor’s degree in history and a law degree from the University of Toledo.

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March 2013
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