Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
Australian Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently cracked down on cabinet and parliamentary members within his own Liberal Party over their disunity on the same-sex marriage issue. The crackdown came after Australia’s Coalition blocked a conscience vote on same-sex marriage. Nearly half of Abbott’s frontbench were in favor of the conscience vote, placing them in direct opposition to Abbott’s own homophobic, anti-liberty position. Abbott has been vocal in his support of “traditional” marriage — that is, only those marriages which conform to his strict Roman Catholic ideology.

As of August 17th, Abbott has tasked the Coalition Government with forming a unified position on same-sex marriage within a fortnight. Sadly, it’s unlikely that the result will be the Australian government simply exiting the marriage business altogether. But there might be some silver lining. Abbott’s antiquated and bigoted stance may well lead to a Liberal Party loss in the upcoming September 19th election, thus ending his career as Prime Minister. Whether it’s Abbott or a new Prime Minister, though, one can count on ever more dictates and conditions coming out of Canberra regarding how Australian citizens may conduct their personal lives. That is a sad state of affairs, but an inevitability when living under the iron fist of government.

Abbott touts his “instinctive respect for institutions and approaches that have stood the test of time” including “traditional marriage”. In contrast, advocates of true freedom abhor institutions that prevent individuals from living as they so choose. Those who value liberty refuse to accept social engineering from the state, no matter how old or supposedly time-tested. This is especially true of institutions like the state-run marriage racket, under which preferred relationships are bestowed special perks, and marginalized relationships are used as campaign fodder for Bible-thumping politicians.

In a free society, marriage is between those getting married and the institution performing said marriage, be it a church, synagogue or secular entity. Marriage can and should be defined however those performing it like, and definitions as well as the institutions themselves will continuously change and evolve over time. This social evolution is a healthy process. Only stuck-in-the-mud conservatives like Abbott would reject it.

If heterosexual marriage is such a strong, time-tested institution, subject it to a competitive marketplace and let it continue to thrive. If you’re among the dying breed who seeks to restrict marriage to only the “traditional” variety, feel free to get one yourself, but don’t prohibit others from following their desires.

In a free society one can marry whomever he or she wants, not to mention however many people he or she wants, with the government having nothing to say on the issue (or any other issue, for that matter). Unfortunately, governments rarely give up the powers they have accumulated. The Australian marriage issue is likely to be no exception. Hopefully, however, the recent turmoil over Australia’s same-sex marriage ban will lead to it being lifted. This would at least end the arbitrary discrimination that same sex couples are subjected to. But it’d only be a small step forward on the long road to personal freedom.

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