It's time to divorce marriage from government

Photo by Bob Daemmrich

It has been said that licensing is the process by which government takes away your freedom and then rents it back to you. Marriage has existed as long as human history. Marriage licensing, on the other hand, is a modern phenomenon. It is a government program that gives power to the few to control and subvert the liberties of others. In the past, it has been used as a weapon of racial segregation and cultural intolerance.

Now this weapon of intolerance has been turned against people of faith in the name of tolerance. I cannot imagine a more Orwellian perversion of freedom than to call force and submission tolerance. Yet that is where we are. This week, county clerks and state officials were given a difficult choice — follow the law or follow your most cherished beliefs.

So it is that we, people of faith and lovers of liberty, are told that we may enjoy neither. We must give up our rights so that others may be granted a government-authorized privilege. I reject this reconstruction of our culture and our freedoms that finds no place for you or me. This reconstruction calls us bigots for following our convictions formed by faith and the Scriptures, and by reason and nature.

But it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. That is not our heritage. That is not our America. It must not become our Texas.

When faced with an impossible choice, we must find another way. Thankfully, it has been with us as long as history has told our stories. That way is the responsible use of freedom.

Marriage is a divine institution, defined by God and revealed in nature. Government should recognize it and respect it. Government has no legitimate authority to define marriage and no reason to license it. Why should we allow government to meddle with marriage, to cheapen it and to parcel it out for profit?

Given the gravity of this issue and the urgent and ongoing threat to all people of faith, as well as the threat of a sea of litigation, I am asking Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session with a single goal — to end government marriage licensing and free us all from the tyrannical grip of the politically correct insanity that threatens our most fundamental God-given right: our freedom of conscience.

Under this proposal, government simply plays its proper constitutional role of enforcing contracts and adjudicating disputes. No benefits would be threatened. No private relationships would be nullified.

Clergy would issue marriage certificates in a manner consistent with their values and their convictions. Those certificates could be filed with the state if desired. If the Presbyterians set a different standard than the Baptist tradition to which I belong, then so be it.

For those who choose not to participate in a religious ceremony, a notarized declaration would be legally sufficient to formalize the relationship.

When freedom reigns, no official or private business owner needs to be brought to heel with the threat of government force. Not only is this the best outcome for everyone, regardless of their views, it is the only option we have left.

David Simpson

Former state representative