- If Pat and Chris want to form a business partnership in your home state, should their genders play any role in determining whether that partnership is legal?
- Should the government play any role in deciding the rules regarding religious ceremonies like christenings and bar mitzvahs?
Conservatives, take note: As University of Chicago economics professor Richard Thaler wrote in the Sunday New York Times, if you answered no to both those questions, then you really can’t support government interference in who has a legal right to be married.
Thaler explained that those who support “domestic partnerships” and such arrangements as alternatives to same-sex marriage are missing the point: The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits unmarried partners from receiving more than 1,000 federal benefits that married couples receive. (More on that in a guest post later this week.)
Thaler concludes with an evocative and unrealistic solution: Weddings would become strictly private, nongovernment regulated ceremonies. Marriage, in legal terms, would be domestic partnerships, reflected in an amended DOMA law.
Hey, why not? Everyone knows corporations are people, and they’re allowed to merge.
Anyway, DOMA may well not survive in the long run: Two federal courts have already ruled it unconstitutional.
As Thaler notes, the conservatives usually want to get government off the backs of citizens. How can conservatives, then, be so supportive of laws that interfere with personal liberty?
(Statue of Liberty photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)