This is a post I made on AVfM on the recent gay marriage decision in the USA, in reply to “keep your dirty government fingers out of my marriage!” fools. I think it sums up my opinions.
Family members have legal status. Should we do away with the notion that – in the eyes of the law – one’s brothers, sisters, parents and children have a status that strangers do not? That they should not be able to see us when we are in hospital on our deatbeds? That if we die intestate, there should be no presumption that our estate descends to them? Should the day come – God forbid – that someone must decide whether or not to turn the respirator off, should this decision not be in the hands of someone we love, and who we believe loves us? Doing this makes the government, or our employers, or the hospital, the only “family” we have. It’s the opposite of what most libertarians and suchlike would want.
Family means something, and it should mean something in law.
Marriage is a declaration to the world at large, and therefore yes – to the state: “We two are family now. This other person is closer to me than my brothers and sisters, and is first in line in my life.” By its very nature, it is not a private act. That’s why it is done in front of witnesses. Its public-ness is the entire point of it, it’s the difference between a marriage, specifically, and just sleeping with someone you like.
Gay people, pleading equal protection (rightly in the eyes of the SCOTUS) have won the right for their partnerships to be legally recognised in this way. It’s not “tyranny” or anything like it: if anything, it’s the reverse – someone who can rightfully stand between oneself and the uncaring mechanisms of state and medical industry when we are incapacitated. It’s an issue particularly poignant for people who, so often, are rejected by their own natural families. The state now recognises that, for gay people, the person they love and care about more than any other person in the world has some sort of legal status in their life.