Skip to comments.Rand Paul: Letís get marriage out of the tax code
Posted on 03/14/2013 7:41:29 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
This isn't news because it's novel for a Paul to be saying such things --- his dad once called for getting the government out of marriage on a GOP presidential primary debate stage --- but because of Rand Paul's growing prominence in the GOP. If he could rally a hawkish party to oppose the president's power to use drones against terrorists in certain circumstances, can he rally a socially conservative party to find an accommodation on gay marriage?
Paul says foreign policy is an instrumental way to expand the GOP, but its not the only way. Social issues are another area where he thinks Republicans can make a better argument to independents and centrists without departing from their principles. Gay marriage, for instance, is one issue on which Paul would like to shake up the Republican position. Im an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage, he says. That being said, Im not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesnt mention marriage. Then we dont have to redefine what marriage is; we just dont have marriage in the tax code.
I assume that’s part of a broader ambition to make marriage a wholly private function, which is vintage Paul insofar as it’s a clever attempt to sell libertarian wine in conservative bottles. He does the same thing vis-a-vis foreign aid to Israel: Cutting aid will actually lead to more robust Israeli self-defense because Israel will no longer feel obliged to seek American approval when responding to Hamas. I’ve seen other libertarians and paleocons argue for cutting aid to Tel Aviv and, needless to say, the idea that it might make Israel more aggressive towards its enemies was … not a key factor in their reasoning, to put it mildly. Likewise here, most libertarians support making marriage a matter of private contract not because they feel angst about “redefining marriage” — the ones I know are all perfectly fine with, if not enthusiastic about, states legalizing SSM — but because it’s a move towards smaller government, especially on moral issues. Paul, however, is pitching this as a sort of escape hatch for social conservatives who don’t want to see blue states or the Supreme Court lend the imprimatur of American government to gays marrying. He supports traditional marriage; he doesn’t want to see marriage redefined. So … why not eliminate state sanction from marriage entirely? Indeed, why not, says Jen Rubin:
If we were starting a system from scratch, I suspect that would be an easier sell. But getting the federal government out of the marriage business, deferring to the states and allowing individuals to, as he says, enter into contracts with one another, can be the way out of the gay marriage thicket for the GOP, I would argue.
The Supreme Court, depending on its ruling in the same-sex marriage cases, may assist this process by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the biggest aggrandizement of federal power on marriage in my lifetime (maybe ever).
Conservatives understand that there is a realm of conduct left to churches, synagogues, families, localities and individuals. The essence of Burkean conservatism is a healthy regard for and respect for those realms and for the customs, habits and beliefs that flow from those free associations. Whatever the methodology, conservatives at the national level need to extract themselves from a losing battle that should not be within the purview of the federal government.
That bit at the end is another reason this is newsworthy: The timing is propitious. Ten years ago, social cons laughed at libertarians for suggesting that marriage go completely private. Ten years later, with several states having legalized gay marriage, poll trends among young voters promising more legalization, and the Supreme Court poised to extend marriage rights to gays as a matter of equal protection, maybe they’ll consider it the lesser of two evils. See, e.g., Frank Fleming’s piece at PJM arguing that marriage is, after all, a religious custom and the state has no business trying to reconfigure religious customs. Better to leave marriage entirely within the private realm so that churches can protect their traditions. The timing’s propitious too in that the GOP’s desperate for ways to build goodwill with younger voters and Paul’s ploy is one likely way of doing it. It’s similar to what Mitch Daniels said about pot a few months ago: The GOP doesn’t need to endorse legalization, all it needs to do is let the power to decide devolve to a more local level of government. In the case of marijuana, Daniels pushed federalism as a solution. In the case of marriage, Paul’s pushing private contract, i.e. self-government at the individual level, as the answer. In both cases, the GOP gets to punt on a hot-button issue in a way that, maybe hopefully, won’t alienate social conservatives. They’re not backing weed and SSM; they’re merely striking a blow for limited government by letting people decide for themselves.
All that said, and as someone who supports legalizing gay marriage, I’ve never understood why social cons would go for this. At the core of the anti-SSM argument, as I understand it, is the belief that man/woman marriage is qualitatively different from gay unions; barring gays from marrying under state law is a way to recognize that difference. It’s not that state sanction operates as some sort of “benediction” for straights, it’s that it a mechanism of differentiation with all other types of unions. If you move to Paul’s paradigm where everything’s a matter of contract, there’s no longer any such mechanism. Every couple with a private agreement is effectively equal; the state will enforce an agreement between gays just as it will an agreement between straights. How does that satisfy the social-con objection to SSM? Likewise, some conservatives support state sanction of marriage because they believe the state has a role in promoting marriage as a social good and domesticating force. I’ve always thought that was a good argument for gay marriage too, but we needn’t argue about that; the point is, if the state gets out the marriage business it’s no longer officially promoting anything. And finally, if you’re worried about gay marriage for fear that it’s another step down the cultural slippery slope towards polygamy, why on earth would you favor a paradigm of private contract? A multi-party contract would place polygamous groups on the same legal footing as couples. If polygamy’s your chief concern, you’re probably much better off sticking with state-sanctioned marriage and taking your chances with the Supreme Court. Exit question: What am I missing here? Any social conservatives want to make the case for why Paul’s right?
RE: The only one of those that’s a problem is Social Security.
People don’t just immigrate without their spouses. How do you have an immigration law that does not recognize a person’s marriage from another country?
ALL social issues should be taken out of the federal government’s hands. Paul is right. Or we could just go on fighting about it forever and screwing with a tax code already so fouled up it will never be fixed.
You cannot separate social policy from fiscal policy....that’s what allowed the government to grow into the leviathan that it is today.
I agree the very idea that the Government should demand a Licence to get married is objectionable.
Just to remind everyone out there: THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT AND CANNOT MARRY YOU!
The Government is an incoherent institution of force, not a wife or husband.
Only God can marry you and thus only God’s consent is of any legitimately indispensable significance.
Indeed it wasn’t until around 100 years ago at the beginning of the “progressive era” that any american government ever became so arrogant as to demand a say in your marriage.
Let that say end now!
I'm sick of hearing about homosexuals and all their supposed discrimination that they can't marry. Do I believe that two people of the same gender living together as husband and wife put their souls in immortal peril? Yes. Do I think they should have the right to do that in a free country? Yes. Do I think the government should call them married? No. Do I care if the government thinks my wife and I are married? No. Do I care if the Lord pours out blessings on my wife and me in the beautiful sacrament of marriage? Yes. That was why we married in a church. I don't really understand why CHristians care if our decidedly unGodly government should get out of the marriage business.
Good point about immigration. I’m not familiar with immigration law at all - are people currently allowed to emigrate with their dependents?
“ALL social issues should be taken out of the federal governments hands. Paul is right. Or we could just go on fighting about it forever and screwing with a tax code already so fouled up it will never be fixed.”
There is an extremely simple understanding that should be passed on to those too lasy to bother to read the Federal Constitution:
If we cannot agree in Washington it should be left to the States. If we cannot agree in our state house it should be left to the local government. If we cannot agree there it should be left to the family.
Government on every issue is by no means indispensable. Men & women are perfectly capable of govern themselves by the rules of nature on almost every matter of life. No better proof of this fact can be more easily found than to observe in history that we have before governed ourselfs on the matters.
It is the objection of every party arguing for change that the method of self-government is imperfect just as it is the shortsightedness of every party to fail to see the imperfections of their own preferred method.
Let us agree to disagree, and to live by the resulting rules of mutual respect for each-others right to self-government.
not just dependents, you can bring along 15 immediate relatives too. and then they can and so on.
“I don’t really understand why CHristians care if our decidedly unGodly government should get out of the marriage business.”
Do you care about Habeaus corpus and Trial by Jury?
Perhaps you can help me see the capitulation here JC?
The concept of marriage licences is a liberal idea designed to give the state(and thus them) some lever of control over our marriages.
That control is now being abused so why not just wipe it out? Return marriage to the exclusive province of the church & God where it has belonged for many thousands of years prior to the “progressive era”.
I see no capitulation here, On the contrary. I see only jumping to the logical conclusion to cut off the left.
“The problem is that, it is not what the gay agenda wants....They want to force every institution, to consider gay marriages on par with heterosexual ones, and force religious institutions to give them equal weighting, and they will not stop until they get it.”
The whole point of the gay marriage fight is to punish folks who wont buy into it with the power of the state. They will fight tooth and nail to be able to punish and keep punishing those who will never buy into whatever impossibility the state decides to call marriage at the time.
I think a big reason so many accept impossibilities like gay marriage is because many have been conditioned to think the state defines marriage. It comes in little pieces of paper with strictures and benefits, and can be broken and resumed between any parties if the state gives its permission.
Often you will read about some faith that believes gay marriage is possible but wont recognize their own members gay marriages until the state they are in also agrees. Which might be more insane than actually buying into gay marriage in the first place.
RE: THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT AND CANNOT MARRY YOU!
Let’s think about this a bit. Let’s assume that this will be true...
Will the government then be ask to recognize unions of some sort?
There are two possible answers — yes and no.
If the answer is yes, This implies among other things that:
* That the government will still need to recognize marriages that were done overseas of the purposes of say, immigration (surely you don’t want to separate an immigrant from his wife... ).
* The government will have to find a way to administer things like social security, which implies that even if they don’t marry you, they must recognize your marriage (or union, for want of a better word ) done in some church or mosque or temple.
* The government will still need to deal with what constitutes a father or mother for children born in this country.
Now if the answer is “no” (i.e., government won’t recognize any unions at all ).... then the implication would be (among other things ):
* You can’t bring your spouse to America, if you were married overseas because the government does not recognize such union. Only YOU can enter this country.
* If you were to die, your spouse does not have to get anything from the social security funds you paid for during your working years, since “spouses” are not a recognized entity (this will save government a lot of money and they might have an incentive for non-recognition ).
* The government will still need to deal with what constitutes a father or mother for children born in this country.
Depends. I have been a small business owner for many years. The few times I have been involved in legal disputes, my preference (and that of my attorney) would be to appear before a judge rather than a jury who are much more prone to irrationsl (read racist)judgements than a single judge.
RE: Im not familiar with immigration law at all - are people currently allowed to emigrate with their dependents?
Current immigration law states that if you are a LEGAL immigrant, and your application is approved, YOUR SPOUSE AND ALL MINOR DEPENDENT CHILDREN ARE AUTOMATICALLY APPROVED.
How do we change that law of government gets out of the business of recognizing marriage?
“The concept of marriage licences is a liberal idea designed to give the state(and thus them) some lever of control over our marriages.”
That’s actually not so. The concept of marriage licenses dates back to the English Common law, alongside Habeaus Corpus and Trial by Jury.
It was brought over to the United states along with the rest of the Common Law, well before the Revolution. All the states are governed by the common law, either introduced when they became states or under territorial control of the United States.
The last challenge to this law was in Reynolds vs the United States. The Supreme Court affirmed that the Federal government had an obligation to preserve marriage between one man and one woman and could prosecute things like bigamy and polygamy, alongside homosexuality.
I get what Rand is saying about the need for constitutional governance - he is off base here when he strips something that is constitutional for the federal government to regulate.
The other question for Rand is what about spousal visas? Federal control of immigration is also constitutional. Does he propose to do away with them altogether since the ‘government has no say’, or should immigrants be permitted to bring in a companion?
This is a poorly thought out position by Rand which, if extended to it’s natural consequences - would be absolutely disastrous. Does Rand plan to suspend child support payments? Spousal support via Social security? Etc.
The first one isn't a problem for me. I suspect however a work around - like proving someone has been a dependent of the immigrant for the last 5 years - could easily be worked out. I do see SS as the biggest problem. However, it'll be morphing into something else soon enough anyway and this might be an easy way for the government to implement changes. Parenthood can now be established first via the parents' word on birth certificates and when that fails, on DNA.
This is not a huge issue. What about proving the spouse has been a non-minor dependent for the last five years? Sure, we’ll get some siblings and some parents, but so long as the immigrant swears to support them so they don’t become a burden on the state I don’t see it as a problem.
Last time you checked was perhaps rather recently. Until the US Supreme Court arrogated to itself the privilege of weighing in on a state criminal code in Lawrence vs. Texas (2003), there were laws against sodomy on the books in most states. Earlier in the 20th century and before, there were such laws in all states, as there have been in all countries in the Judeo-Christian tradition for more than 5,000 years.
The answer to your last question is yes. In our system under the Constitution (pace the USSC since the 1940s, the content of the criminal code depends on what a state's own legislators decide. I think it's a good system.
RE: The first one isn’t a problem for me. I suspect however a work around - like proving someone has been a dependent of the immigrant for the last 5 years - could easily be worked out.
Will the above be applicable for gays who were married in a country that recognized such unions?
Say, X is a gay spouse of Y in Country Z which recognizes gay marriage.... how can X prove that he is dependent on Y while living in country Z?
RE: What about proving the spouse has been a non-minor dependent for the last five years?
How do you prove that when you were living overseas?
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