The Ugly History of the Marriage License in America

As the fevered handwringing and celebrations over the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling remains in full swing, I thought it may be a good time to reflect on what gay people really won. On one level they quite rightly won equal protection under the law and will be able to be issued marriage licenses in every state. Marriage was reclassified from a, “basic civil right”, to a “fundamental right”. That doesn’t sound much different, but it makes a huge difference. In my blog last week, I asked why we need government approval for a marriage in the first place. What is the point of a marriage license? Well, in an effort to answer my own question, I did a little digging. What I found out was horrifying.

In order to fully explain what I mean, let’s start with marriage before the marriage license. Yes! There is such a thing! Let’s go way back to the 1600’s where most of our laws concerning marriage were inherited from England. The ugliest of these laws were called anti-miscegenation laws, or laws that prevented interracial marriages. These laws persisted for over 300 years. They were prevalent in almost every state in the union. Miscegenation laws were upheld numerous times even after the 14th amendment was passed. In the famous Supreme Court case of 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson, the concept of “separate but equal” became the law of the land. This allowed the states that still clung to anti-miscegenation laws to renew their fervor against interracial marriage. The argument went something like: Everyone is free to marry, just marry in your own race. Which sounds eerily similar to: Gay people can get married, just marry someone of the opposite sex.

Up until this point in American history, around the 1920’s, there was no such thing as a marriage license. The states invented them as a way to dictate who could and could not get married for the purpose of making sure blacks, whites, Asians and Indians didn’t mix. That’s right. Marriage licenses were invented as a way to stop white people from marrying black people. Because they couldn’t get a license, interracial couples who would have been considered married before the marriage license was available, ceased to be married. They lost inheritance rights, medical rights and all other benefits of common law marriage. The issuers of marriage licenses were considered the gate keepers, charged with keeping the white race pure.

Laws against interracial marriage persisted long after segregation was deemed unconstitutional in 1957. It wasn’t until 1967 that anti-miscegenation laws were wiped off the books in the southern states. Alabama didn’t bother to take it off the books until 2000. Thanks for that Alabama, appreciate it. In fact, I live in Florida, where until 1967 an interracial marriage could get you 10 years in prison. Thank goodness for Alabama I guess.

My question for gay people is this: If this is what you won, did you really win? Really? What I see that you won is to be able to claim the government can now have dominion over your marriage just like it does of straight peoples’ marriages. If you are really looking for equality might I suggest joining in the fight to abolish the marriage license? Look at it this way, by what right does the government have the right to approve or deny who we want to form a life with? A license is permission. Do you really need permission to love someone enough to spend your life with them?

I get it. There are certain benefits to being married. Social Security, Medical, Legal, survivorship rights. Without a marriage license how could you be sure to reap the benefits and rewards of marriage? How about you get married to whomever you want, register that marriage with the state and receive a certificate of marriage that is recognized by the federal government. Like they did before the government found a way to control who gets married. How about you dictate to them who you married, not the other way around. The state and federal government should not be able to dictate who you marry. Period.

We are all individuals and the government should treat us all the same. Marriage is necessary to protect certain aspects of society like children and surviving spouses. The only reason that we need to register as a couple at all is for the government benefits. The avenue’s to gain access to these benefits are not contingent on the marriage license. There would be no need to make any real changes to the system we already have in place. You would notify the same government offices, in the same way as you would right now.

Let’s put the power back into the hands of the people and get rid of the last vestiges of a racist, bigoted practice that is the marriage license. Little did you know that the license you are clamoring for and that is filed away in millions of homes around the country has roots more ugly than the confederate flag that can no longer be purchased on Amazon.com. Ironic, isn’t it.

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SCOTUS Gay Marriage Ruling, First Impressions

Today the Supreme Court passed a landmark decision that essentially made gay marriage legal in every state. I normally don’t write opinions on things like this right away, but this seems like one of those times where it might be good to document the feelings of the times. Facebook is going crazy. People are either celebrating or predicting the end of the world. I can’t think of an issue relevant to so few having such a big impact in the arena of public opinion. So for the sake of posterity, here are my first impressions.

I should preface this by saying that I have no problem with gay marriage. If I was in the wedding industry, I would have no problem baking a cake, catering, providing the flowers or selling rings to gay couples. If any of my kids turn out to be gay, I would happily walk any of my boys or girls down the aisle and give them away. I say this because not all of my first impressions were totally positive. In fact, I think there are more questions than answers at this point.

The good stuff

The ruling hinged on the 14th amendment and basically says that if a state issues marriage licenses to straight couples, then not issuing marriage licenses to other couples creates a situation where one group of people have rights that other groups of people do not have. All other things being equal, I have a hard time arguing with the logic. If two people love each other and want to get married why should I interfere with that? More power to you. In fact, I often say that when faced with the prospect of siding with an individual or the government, I will always choose the individual. This seems like a win for individuals. Another good thing is that this decision has absolutely nothing to do with your right to sell or not sell cakes, flowers or food to couples for their gay weddings. This decision in no way will force churches to perform wedding ceremonies against their will. That’s a good thing for those individuals.

The bad stuff

The Supreme Court’s decision in essence ruled that the 14th amendment can overrule the 10th amendment. In brief, the 14th amendment grants every person in America equal protection under the law. This means that the state cannot treat one person different than another person, or the state can’t have one set of rules for one group and another set for another. The 10th amendment says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Basically, the Constitution spells out exactly what the federal government can and cannot do. If something is not on the list it gets settled on a state by state basis. The problem here is that the Constitution makes no mention of marriage, so it would normally fall to the states to decide. The Supreme Court got around this by in essence calling marriage a “right” that needs to be protected. In placing the 14th amendment over the 10th amendment, they sort of claim a hierarchy to Constitutional amendments. That’s not good, because if we can now place the amendments in order of importance, what else would be below the 14th? If you confer the meaning to the 14th amendment to say that marriage is a fundamental right, are we now going to list every fundamental right covered by the 14th amendment? Or are we going to let the federal government just add them as they come up, transferring the power from the state to the federal government one by one?

I’m not sure what to think stuff

The implications are unknowable. While I remain happy for those who would like to be married, or enter a civil union, or whatever the term would be, I worry about the rights of the people who aren’t happy about this. Will this eventually trickle down to the wedding industry? Will the federal government use the 14th amendment to force baker’s to make the cakes since they would cater straight weddings? Will the 14th amendment trump the 1st amendment? Why do we even need marriage licenses? How is it even the business of the government who we marry in the first place? It seems like it should be a simple contract between interested parties, and that’s all. The wedding or marriage part is a symbolic ceremony performed by churches. The issue at hand isn’t marriage, it’s the state issued marriage license. It seems like the real problem was created by government and then “solved” by the government. Why go through the middle man?

At any rate, congratulations gay people. These are my unedited first thoughts on the subject. If I get around to it, I will revisit this blog in the future and see if any of my first impressions have changed.

Social Justice Warriors Are Killing the World

This week’s blog is an extension of last week’s blog. It was brought to my attention that my blog last week on feminism could apply to almost every special rights group, and they were right. Who and what are special rights groups? They generally fall into 3 main categories: women’s rights, minority rights and gay rights groups. However each main group may have their own set of sub-group, For instance, the body image group is a subset of feminism. They specialize in trying to get photo-shopped models off the cover of magazines because it may make an overweight girl feel bad. These people are generally called social justice warriors (SJW’s) and are basically just professional victims.

As far as I can tell, there is no widely accepted definition of the SJW movement. Generally, it is based in cultural Marxism that sees built-in inequality in the western culture based on things like race, gender, religion and sexual orientation and seek to make every group equal no matter what. To a SJW, some people have a natural advantage in any given culture. Because men, and white/European men in particular, have built and run the world for the vast majority of human existence, they are at the top of the cultural food chain and therefore “privileged”. Thus, a hierarchy of human existence is born. The goal of cultural Marxism and the SJW movement is to eliminate this hierarchy so that everyone is on a level playing field. To a SJW, any group above any other group needs to be attacked and brought down a few pegs to achieve an equality of outcome. It is easy to see then, that white males are the main target of their hate. Any group that does not cater to the wants and desires of a group lower on the hierarchy is a target for destruction.

The ultimate goal of the SJW movement is to quell any humor, speech or actions deemed to be offensive (by any SJW) from a group that is higher in hierarchy directed towards a group lower on the hierarchy. This makes for some interesting battles sometimes. This is also why it is deemed to be ok for a member of a minority to say something that would be considered racist if said by a white male. It’s not labelled offensive for instance if a Latino comedian uses typical white stereotypes to make fun of white people in a joke because they are lower on the cultural scale and therefore have less “privilege”. It gets interesting when the gap in hierarchy is smaller, such as the case between slim women and overweight women. Both groups would be low on the hierarchy, but thin women would be slightly higher and therefore an acceptable target from the pro-plus-sized women group. You see this in action on your Facebook with meme’s that say things like, “only dogs like bones”, with a picture of a slim woman. Another popular meme says, “Real men like curves” with a picture of an attractive plus-sized woman. Once only plus-sized women are on all the covers of magazines the term plus-sized is no longer acceptable and some other less offensive term will be invented.

So how does all of this work in the real world? What’s so bad about wanting equality? In order to answer these questions, let’s look at each category of SJW group briefly, excluding women’s rights since I used the above example and wrote about modern feminism last week.

The largest network of SJW groups would be minority rights groups. There are probably dozens or possibly hundreds of sub-groups for every race/nationality on the planet. The point of this group is not to build up minorities to better achieve the life goals of the individual members of that group, rather to destroy and bring down the groups that would be considered higher on the cultural scale. In America, you can see this in action in the outrage over white police officers killing black people. To be sure, police killing any innocent person is a tragedy, but to the SJW what matters is that not enough white people are getting killed by cops. This is the fallacy of the SJW movement. Facts, science, logic and reason don’t matter. Arguments like twice as many white people are killed by police than black people don’t matter. What matters is feelings and pop culture trends. What matters is the color of the person, not the argument or idea that is offered. The exact opposite of what Martin Luther King Jr. preached. Minorities of all nationalities, you have value outside your skin color. You control your own destiny, no matter what they tell you. If someone doesn’t like you because of your skin color, screw them and succeed anyway.

The other major category of SJW is the gay rights groups. There are several sub-groups in this category. Each letter in the LBGTIAQ (sorry if I missed any letters), could be considered a sub-group. The target of gay rights right now seems to be religious groups, especially Christian ones. I am guessing from the media coverage that conservative religious groups are higher on the “privilege” scale because they are all about forcing religious business owners to cater to their every whim. Because the gay people are lower on the hierarchy their rights supersede the religious rights of business owners. Truly, I cannot think of anything more demeaning to a person than being reduced to a letter in a long incoherent string of letters. How dismissive is that of an individual’s personal experience, existence, opinions. Gay people of all stripes, you have value outside your sexual orientation. You are not just a letter. If someone hates you for who you love, screw them and succeed anyway.

The SJW movement is killing the world because it is propelling political correctness to dangerous levels. They are killing free speech on college campuses, and in the media. They are killing social media, where they for the most part live. They use social media to ruin the lives of dissenters, by doxing individuals in order to threaten their employers into firing the dissenter. They use twitter, Instagram, tumbler, Facebook and youtube like a SWAT team uses a sniper rifle. They have propelled being a victim to rock star status. If you are not a victim, you are a misogynist, sexist, bigoted, member of the patriarchy. When your goal is to tear down instead of build up, you are doing it wrong. When you can no longer speak your mind on a college campus something is wrong. Eventually, normal people will stop using social media. Sjw’s see capitalism as the enemy because is based in the patriarchy created by white/European males and needs to be destroyed. They have no facts, no logic and no reason. Science is not on their side.

When I got my white privilege certificate in the mail, it came with a secret decoder ring. We white males get secret updates on a regular basis and are prohibited by the patriarchy to discuss the contents of those secret documents. I am going to spill some of the beans right now. This may get my privilege reduced or even taken away, but I’m willing to risk it. Here goes. If you have goals, work hard, figure out what you are good at and work towards getting better anyone can succeed. If you worry about what other people have you will fail. A great man once said, “But let me offer you my definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree? Well then tell me how much of what I earn belongs to you – and why?” –Dr. Walter Williams. There, I have transferred some of my privilege to you, don’t make me regret it.

Religious Freedom and the Law

The big news this week is that the state of Indiana just passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The passage of this act caused an avalanche of bad press for Indiana, complete with boycott’s, outraged Hollywood actors and CEO’s who vow to never visit the state again. Apparently, they are in an uproar because letting people have religious freedom opens the door for religious nuts to openly discriminate against gay people. There are a few things surrounding this media circus that I have a problem with. My opinion on the matter may make both sides mad, but I’m going to risk it.

First, when it comes to private business, the freedom of association is more important than anti-discrimination laws. Period. If you have a religious belief that gay people are immoral, white people are the devil, black people are inferior or whatever other horrific thing you claim that your religion teaches you, more power to you. You should be able to sell your products to just the people you want to sell them to and refuse to sell to anyone else. The market place will sort you out. I certainly would not patronize any place that thinks that way and I doubt the vast majority of people would either.

Second, let’s be clear, the law in Indiana is very similar to what 19 other states and the federal government has. The law is not designed to allow the open discrimination of gay people. This is almost identical to the federal law that was passed by Bill Clinton. This was also essentially similar to the RFRA passed in Illinois that then state senator Barak Obama voted in favor of. The difference that the talking heads keep referring to is that the Indiana law puts corporations and businesses into the category of “people”. The problem with placing outrage in this particular basket is that all the other laws basically do the same thing. If they didn’t before, the Hobby Lobby decision means that they are that way now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After reading many points of view on this, I get the feeling that the opposition the Indiana’s particular RFRA is completely based in fear, and the perception that republicans are just bigots. Had this come from a democrat governor, I doubt there would be nearly as much outrage.

Let’s move on to the public reaction and my problem with the democrats. There was a boycott called for by large corporate CEO’s, musical acts, actors and others who are jumping on the bandwagon. In theory I don’t have a problem with private call for a boycott, but I wonder how trying to hurt private business people in Indiana for decisions made by the state government makes any sense. I don’t know how boycotting, “Indiana”, can possibly make any difference. Are these people boycotting the other 19 states also? No? No good press in that I guess. Are these people outraged at the federal government and president Obama who voted for a RFRA? No? I guess when democrats do it, it’s cool. Apparently the fact that these laws have been around for the last 20 years or so and there have not been any documented cases of businesses turning away gay people just because they can makes no difference to these boycotters. I might point out that being gay 20 years ago was not nearly as cool as it is today. Here’s an idea, why don’t you wait for something to happen at a local establishment and then boycott that particular business? Crazy right!

Republicans, don’t think you’re off the hook. I applaud the attempt at restoring the right of association. I applaud the attempt to transfer a bit of the power back to the people. What I can’t understand is that with one hand you want to reduce the size of government when it comes to religious freedom, but with the other hand you try to make laws against same sex marriage. Therefore, making government bigger for gay people. Small government is small government. Freedom is freedom. You need to be consistent, even if you don’t like it. Is there any wonder why people might be suspicious of your motivation when you have a history of treating people differently? How about if there are no victims, don’t get involved? Gay marriage does not affect anyone but the two people getting married. I get that gay marriage goes against your religion, but the government is not there to enforce your religious beliefs.

The other thing I have a problem with is that the republicans absolutely will not admit that the possibility exists that a business can use this freedom to discriminate against someone, anyone. The truth is a business would be able to do that. Instead of dancing around it, the republicans could use the opportunity to explain freedom of association and why it’s not a bad thing, even if discrimination actually occurred. Which it doesn’t. How can discrimination not be a bad thing? The short answer is that it would redirect money into the correct pockets. What I mean is, if a baker refused to cater a gay wedding, for no other reason than he hates gay people, that couple would simply go to a baker that would cater the wedding. Instead of forcing the first baker to take their money, they would be giving business to someone who actually wanted it. On the flip side, if someone found a niche’ in the gay wedding market, they could refuse to cater straight weddings if they chose, strictly because they were straight. Association, people, it’s a good thing.

The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with this law. I get why gay people would be suspicious, but the good thing about this is that they would have the exact same freedom to associate that the religious people would. I would not doubt in the least that this is a poorly written law, almost all of them are. Laws are written by people in government after all. Even if those evil, bigoted, homophobic republicans wrote this law specifically to allow the discrimination against gay people and their weddings, it still helps gay people. When power is transferred from the government to the people, even for nefarious reasons, it is good for the people. All of them. A government cannot say that some people have the freedom to associate and others don’t. Anti-discrimination laws are there so the government doesn’t treat people differently, not to force one group of private citizens to associate with another.