The Case for Small Government

A Libertarian Perspective on Economic and Social Policy

April 02, 2006

Gay Marriage

The gay marriage debate has unleashed passionate responses from both opponents and supporters. Opponents believe gay marriage violates moral and religious values, while supporters believe bans on gay marriage are discriminatory.

Lost in the acrimony is the one thing both sides agree on: that government should define and provide civil marriage. Yet this is arguably the source of the trouble.

From a policy perspective, legal marriage is a collection of contractual arrangements between the government, the marrying couple, and their children (if any). In particular, marriage establishes default rules about inheritance, division of common property, and guardianship of children. And civil marriage bundles all these contractual rights and responsibilities.

Governments probably should define and enforce default rules about each component of the marriage contract, such as those about who is the legal parent of a minor child.

Governments can do this, however, without defining or “supplying” marriage. Indeed, governments already do so. If an unmarried woman has a child, government rules determine this mother’s rights and responsibilities with respect to that child, as well as those of the biological father. Likewise, government rules already exist regarding communal property and inheritances for people who are not married.

By exiting the marriage business, governments would avoid any necessity of taking a stand on gay marriage. This would calm the debate and polarization over this issue. Couples that wanted the particular bundle of contracts included in civil marriage could arrange for this through private contracts. Paradoxically, government exit from the marriage business might strengthen religious marriage, precisely the goal of many gay marriage opponents.

The approach outlined here is, without question, unlikely to occur. But it still provides a useful framework for thinking about gay marriage. Viewed from the “contracting” perspective, the main argument for civil marriage would be that this particular bundle helps vulnerable groups, like children. This claim does not seem particularly convincing. If it is, however, it presumably applies to children of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike. Thus, the contracting approach says that if governments do provide marriage, they should include gay marriage.

Would this then mean governments had to provide civil marriage for polygamous relations? Not necessarily. Governments might reasonably decline to provide polygamous marriage simply because such contracts could easily become hopelessly complicated and difficult to enforce.


At 9:46 PM, Blogger Greg Mankiw said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Greg Mankiw said...

Jeff writes: "Governments might reasonably decline to provide polygamous marriage simply because such contracts could easily become hopelessly complicated and difficult to enforce."

This is not very persuasive, in my view. Many business contracts involve more than two parties and are difficult to enforce, but the courts do not rule them to be invalid contracts. If you take the "marriage is simply a private contract" view, the polygamy question needs a better answer.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

I tend to overall agree with your thoughts on marriage except I want the fifty states to decide what they want WITHOUT Federal intervention.

Mike Sylvester

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Mike Huben said...

This article is wrong headed on so many fronts that it's amazing.

First, why would anyone want to make rights the same without marriage as with marriage? "One size fits all" is usually a poor fit.

Second, marriage is a clear contractual event, which simplifies legal debate over obligations.

Third, prenups can easily change the rules, but the ordinary marriage is the starting point of negotiations because it is generally fair and doesn't advantage one party over the over, the way wealth, social position, or emotions might.

Fourth, the problem of gay marriages is due to conflation of religious ideas with economic practices. If there is government fault here, it is that it allowed such conflation.

Fifth, homophobic opposition to gay marriage wouldn't go away if government stepped away. There would then be demands that such contracts be declared unenforceable.

Sixth, you can't solve problems of bigotry with government inaction. Nor is pandering to bigots an appropriate use of government power.

Greq Mankiw spotted the biggest howler. Plenty of cultures have dealt with the legal issues of plural marriages, and many still do.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Chris said...

I dunno where you get all this Huben. Perhaps you should read the post again.

With governmental involvement it currently is one size fits all -- hence the current problems with gay marriage and polygamy. Private contracts could easily solve this and establish a private common marriage law.

Additionally, the fact that legal and religious marriage are intertwined is a good enough reason to have the government get out of the deal(because of the current relationship, religious folks are able to influence marriage laws).

Private markets have greater incentives to not discriminate than the government. Currently we have a governmental failure of discriminatory practices. A better alternative can be found.

And I do think polygamy can be solved under private contracts (Miron said government 'could' decline).

Complexity is much more easily coordinated in private markets that under governmental bureaucracy.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Mike Huben said...

Chris, I love when people like you accuse me of their own problems.

Miron proposed one-size-fits-all rules for married and unmarried childrearing and inheritance, as opposed to the current system of two sets of rules.

I pointed out that we already have a great deal of variation with prenuptial agreements.

It also happens that marriage as a religious ceremony has much less historical basis than marriage as a government recognition of an economic institution.

Miron isn't really proposing government disentanglement: he's simply suggesting a slightly different entanglement. He's still proposing government decisions about what's enforceable and default rules for those who don't make explicit contracts.

Perhaps you need to read more carefully.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger James said...

For what may be the first time, huben says something that I agree with without any proviso.

"... the problem of gay marriages is due to conflation of religious ideas with economic practices. If there is government fault here, it is that it allowed such conflation."

If you assume the religious view of marriage to be correct (as most Americans seem to do) then the state is simply recognizing a civil union in any marriage regardless of the number and sex of the members to that union. The religious sacrament is above and apart from any legal measures. No legal measure can make a contract that isn't a sacrament into a sacrament. If the religious side would be consistent with their own beliefs, they'd see this: Would they believe that a law could make unconsecrated beer and pretzels into communion?

And if you take a secular view, then marriage can only be secular, because everything can only be secular. marriage is just the government's decision to recognize a contract to form a civil union.

The trouble is that the government has gotten itself into a position of making laws which refer to things that are religiously defined. Zoning laws treat churches as a unique type of land use, tax laws treat churches a special kind of corporation, etc. so the government has to come up with a definition of a church. In making decisions on education, the government has to have some definition of religion to use in deciding whether claims of intelligent origins are really religious dogma disguised as something else.

And in each case, the government's definition of religion will, itself, depend on some belief regarding what really counts as a religion. Could the NRA become tax exempt and specially zoned if they claimed gun ownership helps ensure that "thou shalt not kill?" Could a stock trader claim to be a Mammon worshipper to avoid capital gains taxes? Too far fetched? Consider that the "Creativity Movement" has already done the equivalent. I wouldn't be surprised if some capitalists or firearm enthusiasts have attempted to do so as well.

The root of the problem is that the government cannot involve itself in some part of society related to religion without having to have some non-neutral notion of how those religious aspects should be dealt with. Such non-neutral notions are hard to come up with, if not impossible. One way around to this difficulty is to just dispense with the idea that government policy should be perfectly neutral toward religion. A government that embraces secularism can be nearly neutral by claiming that all other religions are wrong when they take positions incompatible with secularism. Or the government could refuse to become involved in any issue related to religion, but that would imply some fairly strong limits on what the government could actually become involved in.

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice! I found a place where you can
make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
I made over $900 last month having fun!
make extra money

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goal Setting and you can accomplish great things

Start living your dreams today program is unlike any self-help tool ever offered. If you're like many who often lack the motivation necessary to achieve success. We will guide you with an easy-to-follow goal achieving program that you can apply to simplify your life.

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dream to Achieve The first step is to find a goal that is big enough to inspire you. Unless you are truly inspired to accomplish the goal, it is just a wish. By calling it a "goal", you are affirming that (a) you desire it intensely, (b) you truly believe in your ability to achieve your goal and (c) you are willing to pay the price in advance for achieving your goal.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Join me and my circle of friends at, an online social networking community that connects people from all over the world.

Meet new people, share photos, create or attend events, post free classifieds, send free e-cards, upload music, read blogs, upload videos, be part of a club, chat rooms, forum and much more!

See you around! Bring all your friends too!

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
Join me and my circle of friends at, an online social networking community that connects people from all over the world.

Meet new people, share photos, create or attend events, post free classifieds, send free e-cards, listen music, read blogs, upload videos, be part of a club, chat rooms, forum and much more!

See you around! Bring all your friends too!

At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool design! Useful information. Go on! Wagonlit carlson travel call centers liposuction witout surgery state farm insurance company agents Baby allergic reaction Black jack episode 7 trauma fire alarm call boxes long term wellbutrin Going off wellbutrin affect side wellbutrin xl Dog auto back seat cover blue book value on cars

At 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read Butt lose fat

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anger management class

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

free internet ads

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one can stop young gay teenaged boys from being homosexuals.
They should have rights like any other person without discrimination,
but when homosexuals threaten important institutions
such as marriage, a line must be drawn.
more controversy

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Six months after gay and lesbian couples began legally marring in
Massachusetts, opponents of same-sex marriage swept Election Day, with
sexy twinks in 11 states approving constitutional amendments codifying
marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

The amendments passed with a 3-to-1 margin in Kentucky, Georgia and
Arkansas, 3-to-2 in Ohio and 6-to-1 in Mississippi. Bans passed by
narrower margins in Oregon, about 57 percent, and Michigan, about 59 percent.

"Yesterday's vote reveals once again the broad support for protecting
blond twinks among the American people," said Tony Perkins, president of
the conservative Family Research Council.

Gay-rights activists have filed challenges to the new amendments in
Georgia and Oklahoma.

In Louisiana, a judge recently struck down a constitutional same-sex
marriage ban approved in September on grounds that it improperly dealt
with the twinks kissing issue by banning not only same-sex marriage but also
any legal recognition of domestic partnerships or civil unions.
Louisiana's constitution requires that amendments be limited to a single-subject.

At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mature sex
asian sex
free sex
public sex
cartoon sex
Sex toys
group sex
anime sex
free sex stories
dog sex

At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you think credit crunch affected porn?


At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

piracy affects porn but it's still winner during the crunch


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone think porn is the only business still thriving during the credit cruch? I think many folks seek refuge in buying and wanking porn during the crunch


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is porn the only winner during credit crunch?

interracial sex

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank u ;-) you should look at that emo boy one over this blog:

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous cheap viagra said...

Hello friend amazing and very interesting blog about Gay Marriage

At 11:35 AM, Anonymous citrate sildenafil said...

I really like this write! I enjoy it so much! thanks for give me a good reading moment!

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous retirement homes in costa rica said...

thanks for the info, is very good!
retirement homes in costa rica

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good evening! check
[url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url]
F Mature in Pantyhose Game new [url=]amature lesbian porn [/url] , taboo 2 porn [url=]your amateur porn [/url] or girl porn [url=]amature video porn [/url] , bearshare porn videos [url=]tran porn [/url] or search engine gay porn [url=]free rss porn feeds [/url] , free home anal porn [url=]tranny porn video [/url] and free mobile porn sites [url=]full length free porn movies [/url] or brother and sister porn [url=]dragonball z porn [/url] , F Real French Amateurs Sex new [url=]new porn site [/url] . P Karup's Hometown Amateurs new [url=]brother sister porn [/url] . Babylon X has the latest celebrity sex tapes, sex news and just outrageous celeb behavior. Who knows what they’ll do next. Since 1996 Babylon X has been online and delivering the best and worst of our favorite celebrities. From starlets to the house hold names, “BX” has all their nude pictures, movies and even all the hardcore videos. [url=]porn tattoo [/url] . 20 pics of Amateurs : so we need to know if you can handle what it demands. are you two, like always making out? asked kinzy. oh yeah, said joe. we can't get enough of each other. and other girls... kinzy was shocked: but your wife is just around rhe corner!,hot couple tease a [url=]animee porn [/url] . F Reverse Gangbang Vids new [url=]free lesibian porn [/url] , Babylon X has the latest celebrity sex tapes, sex news and just outrageous celeb behavior. Who knows what they’ll do next. Since 1996 Babylon X has been online and delivering the best and worst of our favorite celebrities. From starlets to the house hold names, “BX” has all their nude pictures, movies and even all the hardcore videos. [url=]jj's porn [/url] , vanessa hudgens porn pics [url=]celeb porn pics [/url] or free porn star video clips [url=]shot at home porn [/url] , mp4 porn sample [url=]pichunter free porn [/url] or porn video hostings [url=]cheerleader porn [/url] , mobile pics porn [url=]teen porn forum cgi [/url] and sailormoon porn [url=]cartoon porn comics [/url] or porn video search [url=]free porn dvd [/url] , Category: FREE > Straight > Asian [url=;id=r3774#r3774]amateur porn dump [/url] . F Hot Sheer Pantyhose new [url=]free xxx lesbian porn movies [/url] . 3 clips of Schoolgirls : hot teen slut sucks and fucks a lucky artist [url=]misty porn [/url] . 16 pics of Lesbians : sexy big tit lesbian cougar seduces blondie teen by the pool [url=]porn payperview [/url] . ADULT SEARCH [url=]romantic gay porn [/url] , to meeting forgive.....

At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome! present
[url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url]
Adult Gold Access is the new great adult deal. You get access to 6 great adult sites for the price of one sign up. Yes that\'s a great variety of sites, maybe you want some real porn stars, maybe you feel like some great big tits, it\'s all there for you to enjoy. Adult entertainment has just taken a new approach. Check it out; you\'ll be so glad you did. [url=]tenjho tenge porn [/url] , uncensored latinas porn [url=]free pettie porn [/url] or amateur porn web sharing [url=]porn mobile [/url] , story porn [url=]free amiture porn [/url] or portuguese porn [url=]free hot homemade porn [/url] , free big dick porn [url=]free gat porn [/url] and pooping porn [url=]hot porn videos [/url] or free download full porn movies [url=]download free psp porn movies [/url] , Category: FREE > Straight > Group Sex [url=]exclusive vod hardcore porn [/url] . Sexy nymphs doing everything from cheesecake pinups to hardcore kink. [url=]porn babysitter [/url] . 15 pics of Amateurs : mom got drunk and sent in these horny pics [url=]free hardcore porn vids [/url] . F Japanese Sex Videos new [url=]videos porn [/url] . 16 pics of Amateurs : hottie railee is footjob til feet is jizzed [url=]celebrity free porn [/url] , F Mature in Pantyhose Game new [url=]free porn access [/url] , pink pussy porn [url=]free porn strap on girls [/url] or free porn list [url=]puerto rico porn [/url] , porn for her [url=]mature native women porn [/url] or web 2.0 porn [url=]porn removers [/url] , interracial free porn [url=]gay porn industry [/url] and full length porn movie [url=]porn sites in america [/url] or free vintage stocking porn [url=]french teen porn [/url] , 16 pics of Brunettes : brunette teen with big boobs having threesome sex [url=]emo gay porn [/url] . 4 clips of Young : young schoolgirl fucked and filled with cum and is pregnant [url=]shyla stylez porn [/url] . F Anal Pantyhose new [url=]my daughter is a porn star [/url] . Updates are almost daily, so you can find something new to see frequently. There's just one catch to this one: it's expensive. You don't get any bonus sites and even though the collection is extensive, it isn't exclusive. Absolute Pornstars has some top-name performers, but they come at quite a hefty premium. [url=]free mommy porn [/url] . Sex famished experienced twat and tight but orifice stretched approximately in doggie style porn. [url=]xxx tean porn [/url] , of good purchases.....

At 12:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Find fault with! it for you
[url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url] [url=][img][/img][/url]
P e Pantyhose Land new [url=]my wifes friends 2 free porn [/url] , lea walker porn [url=]old and young porn [/url] or mary kate and ashley porn [url=]tiny penis porn [/url] , free full psp porn [url=]amature gay porn [/url] or ammateur porn vids [url=]porn sc [/url] , free sex and porn [url=]free amateur video porn [/url] and contortionist porn [url=]classic xxx porn movies [/url] or porn you tube [url=]free porn long clips [/url] , P Attack My Ass new [url=]porn eskimo [/url] . Category: FREE > Straight > Black [url=]free vintage porn clips [/url] . Slavegirl in training face pumped punished flogged clamped whipped fingered and forced to cum. [url=]meg griffin porn [/url] . 4 clips of Teen : small titted blonde teen pulling down her panties and fingering [url=]porn producers [/url] . Category: FREE > Straight > Amateur [url=]sensual porn [/url] , AbsolutePornstars also has separate sections for flicks and pics, so it's quick and easy to find the type of smut that you're in the mood for. There's solo, lesbian and intense banging galore. You can also browse by softcore and hardcore, but then the vids and pics are mixed together. [url=]free squirters porn [/url] , kim kardashian porn [url=]bukkake porn [/url] or fiona xie porn [url=]china porn [/url] , cartoon porn valley [url=]porn stars daily thumbs [/url] or anel porn [url=]free psp porn clips [/url] , free famous toon porn [url=]naomi porn star [/url] and penis porn [url=]porn lusty grandmas [/url] or porn movie thumbs [url=]candy west porn star [/url] , Most of the time, you will see one man and a pornstar in a sucking and screwing scene. A horny guy does his best to please the wet pussy of the insatiable women. It can be a tall order to fill, considering that these chicks seem up for just about anything. [url=]free anime porn movies [/url] . F Teen Loves Big Dick new [url=]filthy porn [/url] . Category: PAY > Straight > Megasites [url=,p,103178.html#103178]nasty rat porn [/url] . P Attack My Ass new [url=]free real amateur porn pics [/url] . Category: FREE > Fetish > Older&Mature [url=]whitehouse porn [/url] , good day.....

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous cellulite removal said...

This actually is certainly Awesome expertise having writing and lots of because of yahoo search engine choose up me on here. I liked reading your content material and added to the e-book marks. The ideas you used to put up was clearly understandable. My husband also appreciated after reading this post. Let me go through for extra earlier.

At 2:35 AM, Anonymous how to get rid of cellulite said...

In all probability essentially the most useful in addition to up-to-date data I got here across on this topic. I'm certain fortunate that I saw your article by chance. I’ll be subscribing to your own rss feed in order that I can have the latest posts. Get pleasure from every thing here.

At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Company Voluntary Arrangement CVA for a company is not an easy way out of debts, contrary to popular belief. However, there are also significant loopholes that will still allow the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to collect tax bills, even if a CVA for your company is filed and discharged. You need to sit down with an insolvency auditor or a solvency practitioner for a free consultation or call our helpline for free, 0800 24 0800.
Company Voluntary Arrangement

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ideal primary teaching resource should contain a variety of useful features. High quality teaching resources can be the difference between a constructive, attentive and content classroom and an unproductive and idle one.
Primary Teaching Resources

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Moe Nawaz said...

UK Advice, nationally recognised as a business insolvency and business liquidation helper for business owners and company directors in UK, we arrange a meeting to your office or any place of work at no cost to you. Contact us today at our business liquidation helpline for free at 0800 24 0800.
Business Insolvency
Business Liquidation
Business Bankruptcy
Business Insolvency
Company Insolvency
Company Liquidation
Business Bankruptcy
Winding Up Petition
Company Debts
Pre Pack Administration
Business Debts
Insolvency Offices
Insolvency Auditor
Company Voluntary Arrangement
Birmingham Insolvency
London Insolvency
Manchester Insolvency

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Moe Nawaz said...

I like your post, the information in your post is quite good :), nice.. Thanks a lot... keep sharing:)
Mastermind Groups
Mastermind Coach
Mastermind Strategist
Time Management Skills
Business Growth Strategy
What is Mastermind Group
Why Join Mastermind Group
Mastermind Group Benefits
Business Growth Products
Business Coaching
Business Ideas
Business Coach
Business Mentor
Brand Strategist
Business Success Stories
Innovation Strategist
Business Growth Strategy
Business Success Stories

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous sports betting software said...

This is a very complicated so many divided opinions at stake the moral values ​​and religious discrimination is discussed

At 3:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=]iBgzkRKqmTwVZg[/url] , OcSdwWLvug ,

At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

related with study:
,more updates over here :
,to obtain just like:
Nike ingalrb542433611

At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is Miuccia [url= ]меховые фабрики [/url] and Patrizio Bertelli who find the secret of Prada and invent the first black nylon Prada handbag on this planet which opens the successful and beneficial door of world famous handbag brand. Prada Handbags is known for its lavish. Each lady wants a Prada handbag which stands for the fashion and the way of life. Prada store sells cheap Prada, including Prada purses and Prada handbags. [url= ]меховые фабрики [/url] is the perfect way for you to select a bag of top quality and best designed. With the progression of Prada, a lot more [url= ]шубу [/url] are established. Shopping for Prada handbags and Prada wallets in [url= ]шубы из китая [/url] can save you a lot of time and cash. [url= ]Шубы [/url] is the one other good choice for you. [url= ]меховая фабрика [/url] should never disappoint you.


Post a Comment

<< Home