Privatizing Marriage Makes No Sense

Editor’s Note: Max Borders responds to this piece in “On Privatizing Marriage.”

If Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul is politically from Mars, then the leftist feminist writer Naomi Wolf is from Venus. But one thing the two agree about here on Earth is the desirability of getting the government out of the marriage business.

Following the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, Paul argued that Mississippi and other states that want to get out of the business of issuing marriage licenses are right. The government shouldn’t “confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage.” The government should leave marriage to churches and temples, regardless of how they define it, and let consenting adults, regardless of sexual orientation, write their own civil union contracts.

Likewise, echoing fellow liberals such as Michael Kinsley and Alan Dershowitz, Wolf some years ago opined that a wedding dress and flowers blind women to the reality that, at root, marriage is a business contract that the government should stay out of.

But even though “privatizing marriage” is gaining popularity, it is an incoherent concept that, if anything, will actually increase — not decrease — government interference in marriage.

At the most basic level, even if we can get the government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, it still has to record and register these partnerships (and/or authorize the entities that perform them) before they can have any legal validity, just as it registers property and issues tit…