Uneconomic: marriage and civil union stuff
A couple weeks ago, the NYTimes had an article about weddings that turn out to be legally invalid, perhaps. (“Great Wedding! But Was It Legal?”, first SundayStyles page, 8/5/07; reposted here.) I’m a “minister” in the Universal Life Church myself, and have performed four weddings and have been asked to perform another next summer. My wife (ceremony performed by her cousin empowered by the ULC) also clicked the “make me a minister” button on the ULC website so she could perform a wedding for a friend of hers. So we take our possibly invalid weddings very seriously here in the Teller-Elsberg clan.
I know it’s got little to do with economics, exactly, but nonetheless, this article has got me thinking: all the recent debates over same-sex marriage (and/or civil unions) have served to make it clear that states should not approve or disapprove of any marriages whatsoever, regardless of who officiates. When the state’s acknowledgment of the legality of a marriage depends on the opinion of government officials regarding what is and is not a legitimate religion, or who is and who is not a legitimate minister within an otherwise legitimated religion, it is clear that the separation of church and state has been breached. Religious groups and organizations are the appropriate bodies to establish marriages, as marriage is clearly a union formed within a spiritual tradition, with all the benefits and burdens that that entails. The state, on the other hand, should only perform civil unions, whatever the sexual mix of those joining in blissful union.
Now all we need is a constitutional amendment.