“Who are we, this Government or this country, to redefine the term marriage that has meant one man and one woman across cultures, across ages, across geographical barriers since before state and religion themselves?”
Tim Loughton, Tory Former Children's Minister
Ok, so I'm sceptical that it's true that marriage has always been so neatly and narrowly defined, haven't some cultures been polygamist? Indeed given the extent of extra marital relations in our own culture, aren't some marriages just polygamy by other means?
But that's not what I want to get on my high horse about, what I agree with Mr Loughton about is that government (any government) is not in a position to redefine marriage. But I want to go one further, and say that government is not in a position to give any definition to marriage in the first place, only individuals can do that. If governments would restrict themselves to recognising only civil partnerships then choices regarding marriage could be left in the hands of private institutions. The Quakers for example have no problem conducting same sex marriages, yet they have been prevented from doing so in the UK by the state. What right does the state have to define marriage for the Quakers?
Unfortunately it seems in Europe the idea that we can make any decisions for ourselves as individuals without the guiding hand of government is just unthinkable. Correct me if I'm wrong, if the UK media has been running with a Libertarian perspective on this issue, but I don't thing so. In the USA the idea of non-government solutions occasionally seeps through, they are of course treated as crazy by the main-stream media, but at least you do occasionally get to hear them.
As an example here's Dr. Ron Paul giving a Libertarian perspective on government and marriage at last years Republican nomination debates. (Sorry to say he didn't win).
Quaker statement on same sex marriage: