Although I disagree with him about many issues, I applaud former Vice President Richard Cheney’s answer at a National Press Club appearance 1 June 2009. As the following clip shows, Mr. Cheney said that “people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.”
As I’ve noted before, I object to government interfering in marriage, which is essentially a religious matter. It seems to me that the state’s (i.e., the government’s) concern is granting licenses for two people to form a special type of corporate-like partnership in which the two assume joint responsibility for care of children, financial matters, and so forth. Precisely because that function—licensing these mini-corps—is a governmental role, in the US form of government it is inappropriate for the government to discriminate among classes of people who may obtain those licenses. Beyond concern about insuring that those who obtain licenses are informed and making applications freely (i.e., they are mature and know what they’re getting into), government cannot say “only Blacks can get these licenses” or “only red-heads may have licenses.”
Some people who forms these legal mini-corps (“civil unions”) may choose to have a religious ceremony connected with the licensing. The state has no authority over those ceremonies. It can’t say that people should dress in a certain way at the ceremony, that only certain people can speak at the ceremonies, or that people may say only certain words. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, though they would not be eligible for the legal benefits of government-sanctioned mini-corps, those religious ceremonies can be held by people who don’t even have a legal license to form the union. Shoot, parties should be free.
The major problem, in my view, with this entire debate about gay marriage is that legal and religious interests have historically been intertwined, and we need to separate them. An essential feature of the US government is captured in “separation of church and state.” Marriage mixes the two. Let’s determine what parts are legitimately functions of each and partition those functions. We need to sunder the licensing of the mini-corps from the party sanctioned by dieties.
See also Dan Eggen’s “Cheney Comes Out for Gay Marriage, State-by-State” from the Washington (DC, US) Post or wire service versions of the story published by the Boston Globe (here) and Los Angeles Times (here). Follow the story via Google News.