Gay Marriage on California’s November Ballot

New column from Reason’s Adam Summers:

It has been nearly two months since California started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and somehow civilization as we know it has not come crashing down. The legal and political fights over the issue are far from over, however. Gay rights supporters tried and failed to keep Proposition 8 from appearing on the state’s November ballot. Prop. 8 would change the state constitution, banning same-sex marriages and effectively overturning the California Supreme Court’s May ruling. …Gay marriage opponents are wrong to use the law to enforce their notion of morality on others. Doing so violates the libertarian principle that people should be allowed to live their lives as they please, so long as they do not infringe on the equal right of others to do the same. A homosexual couple’s decision to enter into a religious or social agreement certainly does not preclude a heterosexual couple’s right to do so. …By politicizing a private matter-deciding to whom one may pledge one’s love, support, and fidelity-opponents of same-sex marriage have created a world of winners and losers where once there were only voluntary promises. Gay marriage opponents are thus wrong to insist that they have the right to decide how marriage should be defined (i.e., whether it should be sanctioned only if it is between a man and a woman, or even whether marriage should be a religious institution or a secular social commitment) not only for themselves but for everyone else as well. …Marriage, whether entered into by those who consider it a sacred religious covenant or those who see it as a secular social bond and contract, is a profoundly personal decision between those in love. The “sanctity” of marriage must be defined by the individual-or couple-not an interest group and certainly not the state. There simply is no role for the state in marriage.