Is "Get Government Out Of Marriage" homophobic?

So this proposition pops up, without fail, every time the gay marriage debate happens. Every single time, someone moans about something like this:


What I’m wondering is, why do I never hear this when talking about literally anything other than gay marriage? Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but the way I’m reading this situation, this argument is a complete red herring with the sole purpose of deny gay people rights. Better, after all, that nobody has those rights than that homosexuals get equal access to them. It seems like an extremely jaded sort of “taking my ball and going home” argument - “If I have to share these rights with you, it’d be better that neither of us have it”. Am I missing something here? Again, I never hear this argument on any other subject. It never comes up in any other context to do with marriage. What gives?

You hit the nail on the head. These are bitter, angry people who are mad that their choice of discrimination didn’t get validated by smarter people than them, so they try around and try to argue a non-sequitur that’s so obviously targeted against a specific bigotry. They’ll use that argument whenever they lose though, occasionally you’ll see it pop up with religion

The problem with the gay marriage issue is the inclusion of religion with the secular nature of the government.

People opposed to same sex marriage generally do so on religious grounds. It is against god’s will so how dare the government say it’s ok!

I never really understood why this conflation is not more directly addressed. There are two aspects to marriage:

  1. Religious
  2. Government

The two are independent of each other. It is easy to confuse because when a minister (or priest or rabbi or whatever) does the ceremony you are legally married.

However, there is no need for #1 above. A judge will do. When it comes to the state interest in marriage it is about property rights and inheritance and ability to make medical decisions and other legal stuff that smooths things out. There is really no good reason to deny these rights between any two consenting adults who wish to closely share their lives with each other.

The religious part is just a smokescreen that enables discrimination.

Some opponents of marriage equality contend that marriage as a religious institution is incompatible with marriage unconcerned with gender. One way to accommodate those people and advocates for equal rights is by removing marriage as a secular status altogether, and if we like pro-marriage policies, calling them something else.

It’s similar to one of the mainstream pro-choice positions on abortion–i.e…, personhood is a philosophical category that differs among people, so let’s keep government out of the decision of when it begins altogether. Many pro-choice people would prefer the government treat abortion like any other medical procedure, including funding it when necessary. Many pro-life people want the government to ban abortion. But one proposed compromise is to simply get government out of it altogether.

It’s called compromising with people whose values you disagree with, where both sides get something less than what they want (or deserve). I don’t agree with it in the case of marriage equality because I think newmarriage just won’t ever have the same connotation and social effect as marriage, but I don’t think it’s advocates are inherently homophobic.

Do “homophobic” people use this arguement as just a smokescreen to be “homophobic”?

In many cases yes.

But don’t fall into the trap that just because the arguement is used for the wrong reasons that somehow lessens any validity the arguement might have.


Not sure I follow. Can you elaborate?

The conclusion of the OP is flat out false, illogical, and patently absurd. I and many others feel the government has no place regulating marriage independently of same sex issues. We actually feel that it is government regulation that has been the main impediment to same sex marriages because it was and still is. The adoption of this concept by those who oppose same sex marriage is simply a concession of defeat on their part.

There is nothing homophobic (or homophilic, for that matter) in the concept.

It may be used as a final Pacific-desert-island hideaway for the last-ditch resisters who refuse to accept that the war is over, but that has no bearing on the merits of the idea.

What validity? There are various privileges and rights conferred upon married couples, many of which have directly to do with them being married, and the fact that it would be a nightmare to confer such rights onto others without the legal framework which the government has installed. Things like power of attorney, rights to medical visitation, and estate rights. These are things which absolutely make sense for a married couple to have. The argument itself is one I consider extremely invalid on its face - the fact that it’s being used the way it is makes it even more suspect.

Except that if all you want is a stupid title, gay couples can get “married” already. Host a nice little ceremony, get everything set up, congratulations - you’re “married” to the full extent that marriage would imply without government intervention. Or, you know, you could just say “We’re married now” in front of a hobo. Basically the same thing, legally speaking. :rolleyes: To say that the government being in charge of marriage is the main impediment to gay marriage is akin to saying “The main impediment to equal rights getting into Disneyland is Disneyland’s existence”. What homosexual couples are looking for isn’t the airy “I’m not married” shit. It’s the rights and privileges that (justifiably and reasonably) come with it, and the social recognition. Removing government from marriage removes all of that. And now add the fact that this argument… well…

I have literally never heard it used in any other way. That’s the problem. Literally never.

As far as I’ve noticed, people who say this are either marriage-phobic or extreme libertarians. I don’t recall anyone who wished to do away with secular marriage say they’d exclude gays from whatever would replace it.
Those hung up on the so-called sanctity of OSM seem to be in favor of government recognition of marriage - but the right kind of marriage only.

I am Christian, supportive of gay marriage (and my church is as well - Presbyterian).

I have long argued that in a perfect world we would do a “find a replace” in the law to swap out spouse, husband, wife, marriage with civil terms such as partner, union etc. That way the rights and privileges of marriage would be open to all, and the use of the term “marriage” could fall to whatever ceremony you hold.

I would love it if my Minister would cease to be an agent of the State when he conducts a ceremony. I don’t like the overlap.

So if you have not met ANYONE who argues for zero government marriage who is NOT a homophobe - then it might just be a function of your network.

Aside to Voyager - while I like some aspects of Libertarianism (and have registered as such in the past when California Republicans were going way off of the deep end), I don’t think I count as an Extreme Libertarian.

Either way, it’s a stupid argument, so does it matter?

As others have said, I think that it can be used honestly. But it generally isn’t.

Those who are using it honestly, however, are often not incredibly informed about what marriage does, legally, so they think it’s no big deal to make it a private transaction. But there’s a reason that it has government recognition, and that’s because societally we think of marriage as more than a private contract.

You can make this argument for pro- or anti-SSM reasons, so I wouldn’t call it homophobic. There are instances where people resort to making that argument because the anti-SSM case is losing ground, and that’s moving the goalposts. It’s true that people who supported recognition of same-sex marriages don’t make this argument very much anymore because there’s really no chance the U.S. will start treating marriage this way any time soon and because society is now accepting and recognizing same-sex marriage. And you can argue for or against tax benefits and things for married couples, too. But there’s nothing inherently homophobic about the argument.

The first quote in the OP is full of baloney, though. It implies that the federal government gets involved in a same-sex marriage only if it’s recognized.

Well, I have. Literally sometimes. In fact, I think I’ve heard this more from people who are basically fine with SSM if OSM is going to exist (legally), but would prefer that government not be involved at all because of their libertarian tendencies.

Lets say I argue X is a reason to deny same sex marriage.

You say “Well, homophobics also use that same arguement all the time too!”. “So thats just another crappy homophobic arguement”. “And, BTW, bite me you homophobe”.

The logic doesn’t follow. And often times its circular to boot.

I didn’t want it to appear that I thought all libertarians were against marriage as a state recognized relationship. It would seem to fall under the heading of a state recognized contract, which most libertarians seem to accept.
I’d guess that your minister doesn’t feel like he is acting primarily as an agent of the state, but rather as an agent of God, uniting two people in a holy relationship which the state then accepts. Why is that a problem?

Sometimes you can’t use theoretical logic concepts to deal with a reality that is all too clear.

You can say “Lets say I argue X” but in reality arguments aren’t “X” they are fleshed out arguments. You suggest that there is a logical trap that lessens the “validity” of the argument without due cause. “Homophobes use that argument, and you suck, homophobe”. Theoretically, you make sense. Just because bad people use the argument doesn’t mean it’s inherently wrong.

Here’s the problem, after years and years and pages and pages of agruments, I have yet to see an argument “X” that has any inherent validity to begin with. They all, every single one I’ve heard, have an inherent basis in a dislike of gay people or the gay lifestyle. I’m not poisoning the well, I’ve drunk from the well over and over and the water tastes terrible.

I think the problem is such arguments are often co-opted by the homophobic crowd so they can hide behind it and say they are not homophobic, just trying to make a point.

It is akin to the swarms of people who are not racist at all but have a real problem with a Kenyan Manchurian candidate who is a Muslim communist nazi acting as our president. I mean that’s not racism because no one would want such a person to be president amiright? Didn’t say anything about him being black.

We need something like the governmental institute of marriage, because your spouse is your next-of-kin. Without that, the person you spend your life with has no right to inherit, make end of life decisions, care for your children (say, if you bring children who do not have another parent into the relationship), etc., without some kind of separate document being drawn up and witnesses for each separate issue, and then each one can be challenged in court, and that’s not even considering what goes on in community property states. And taxes. If I have an apartment, and I get married, my landlord has to let my spouse move in with me-- they can alter the lease, but they can’t deny the person the right to live with you (unless the person is a sex offender, and you are within n miles of a school, but that’s a separate issue).

If we eliminate marriage, we eliminate the right of people to appoint a next-of-kin, all romance and what have you aside. If your parents are dead, and you have no siblings, hospital lawyers have to go scrambling for cousins you haven’t seen in years-- BTW, the sort of thing gay people have had to deal with all the time, until recently, and the real reason they’ve been fighting for marriage, not so much for the public recognition of their right to love.

So go ahead and eliminate marriage. Call people’s bluff. Just don’t make it retroactive. I gotta go pick up my son now.