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No One Asked, But I’m Telling Anyway
November 7, 2009 — 9:36 pm

I haven’t really said anything about gay marriage around these parts. I’m close to many people who hold strong positions on multiple sides of the argument, and nobody’s ever asked me to outline my own stance. Maybe they all just presume that I agree with them, or maybe they’re apprehensive that I won’t. More likely, they don’t care — and I can’t say I blame them. Nobody asks about my view, and I don’t offer, pretty much a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation.

I have no personal investment in the issue, which may also be one of the reasons I haven’t bothered to touch on it before. I do have friends with a personal stake, however, as I suspect most people do, so the issue will always affect me tangentially. That’s all beside the point, though — for instance, I don’t take recreational drugs, and regardless of that I’ve been a long-time advocate for drug legalization. Standing up for individual rights should be a matter of principle, and it may well be more important for people to fight for rights they don’t ever plan to use themselves than to protect only their own interests, if for no other reason than to help ensure they don’t succumb to a corrupting bias in otherwise principled ideology. So, for the record, I’m firmly in favor of legalizing all consensual behavior among adults. Whether other individuals throughout society consider any particular behavior to be “moral” is a separate question, a battle that should be waged in the marketplace of ideas in civil society, rather than in legislative chambers.

My own position on gay marriage has actually been on the web for a little more than four years, in the comment section of Tom Palmer’s blog (there are a couple of references to previous comments that don’t fully make sense outside the context of the full thread):

In our perfect little libertarian utopia (as if anyone could agree on what that might be), we certainly might agree on the complete separation of marriage and state as one of the features of this society. And this is indeed the view I once held; I wasn’t interested in arguments for gay marriage because I didn’t think government should be involved in defining or approving marriages at all. And in a perfect world, this would still be my view.

But as we live in a decidedly non-libertarian world, it’s important to take stock of the set of rights and responsibilities that a civil marriage confers on its participants — and to realize that some of these rights and responsibilities *can’t* be contracted for in any form outside of marriage.

Since marriage is the one form of contract that allows for specific sets of rights and responsibilities between two people, it’s fundamentally unjust to withhold that form of contract from a categorical set of willing participants.

If, Aaron G., you think engaging in a homosexual relationship is sinful, that’s your right. And, SPB, if you want to work toward smashing traditional forms of sexual morality, that’s your right too. But the libertarian in both of you should recognize that if someone else wants to take another path in her pursuit of happiness, you should grant her that right as well.

After all, the only thing under consideration is the right to undertake a specific form of interpersonal contract. This shouldn’t be a controversial notion at all.

— Eric D. DixonComments (0)

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Eric D. Dixon

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