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Marriage Equality

Rand Paul: Get Government Out of Marriage Business

Rand Paul: Get Government Out of Marriage Business


The Republican senator and presidential hopeful says he's worried about the implications for religious liberty now that same-sex marriages have nationwide government recognition.

Rand Paul, the Republican senator and presidential aspirant who has said same-sex marriage "offends" him and others, has a proposal in the wake of the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling: Get government out of the marriage business altogether.

Paul, who has previously said he favors some sort of contract, but not marriage, for same-sex couples, expanded on that idea in an op-ed published on Time's website Sunday night.

"While I disagree with Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage, I believe that all Americans have the right to contract," Paul writes. He worries that this "redefinition" will infringe on the religious freedom of those who don't support marriage equality.

"The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage," he writes. "Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party."

He notes that "states such as Alabama are beginning to understand this as they begin to get out of the marriage licensing business altogether." Actually, while the Alabama Senate approved a bill to remove public officials from licensing marriages statewide, the legislation died in a House committee in the most recent legislative session. However, officials in two counties say they are no longer issuing marriage licenses.

Paul quotes Justice Clarence Thomas's dissent from the ruling, in which Thomas asserted that if the framers of the Constitution "would have recognized a natural right to marriage that fell within the broader definition of liberty, it would not have included a right to governmental recognition and benefits." Instead, Thomas claimed, it would have included the right to have a religious ceremony, live together, and raise children, all of which the plaintiffs in the marriage case were already "free to engage in" -- a questionable statement, given the restrictions in some states on adoption by same-sex couples, which motivated the Michigan plaintiffs to bring their case.

Paul concludes:

"Perhaps it is time to be more careful what we ask government to do, and where we allow it to become part of our lives. The Constitution was written by wise men who were raised up by God for that very purpose. There is a reason ours was the first where rights came from our creator and therefore could not be taken away by government. Government was instituted to protect them. We have gotten away from that idea. Too far away. We must turn back. To protect our rights we must understand who granted them and who can help us restore them."

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