“Government shouldn’t be in the marriage business” — Yeah. So WHAT?

Imagine for a moment that it was the prevailing practice in public schools to require mandatory Christian prayers services, and that students could be paddled, suspended, or expelled for failure to participate.

I am convinced that a certain block of “libertarians” would be saying, “Let’s just focus on getting the government out of education altogether! Let’s leave it to the states to decide! We shouldn’t be wasting time trying to stop religiously-motivated discrimination!”

Look, we get it: government shouldn’t be in the marriage business. I don’t disagree. But the government shouldn’t be in a lot of businesses (I have serious questions about whether government should be in the governing business). That does not excuse violating individuals’ fundamental rights. Advocating for equality before the law is not a “distraction” from the libertarian project–it is a core piece of it.

Libertarians should stop repeating this mantra “government shouldn’t be in the marriage business” every time the subject of marriage equality comes up, as though it was an answer. It’s not relevant to the question of whether gays should have the same rights as straight people do.

Should government be “in the marriage business”? Maybe not. But it definitely shouldn’t be in the discrimination business. When we give an answer to a question nobody asked, we make ourselves irrelevant to the discussion. When someone asks, “Should gay couples have the same rights as straight couples?” the correct answer is “Yes.” Period.

Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the founder and editor-at-large of The Skeptical Libertarian. He writes on issues relating to science, skepticism, and economic freedom, focusing on the role of evolution in social and economic development.