Over the last years there has been a lot of discussion on the idea of gay marriage. A divisive issue it has spawned debate on the role of religion in government, the definition of marriage and a lot of questions about basic civil rights. These discussions are important, but it is often treated as a binary question. Either the government endorses gay marriage or it denies it. There is a third idea though, one that should be far less controversial than either of the others. That is simply removing the government from the job of endorsing marriage entirely.
The idea of a marriage license is one that is not as old as one might believe. In fact the idea of marriage licenses in the USA were not common until after the civil war.1 They became common at this time for a reason that should make them suspect to the modern person. They were popularized in order to help combat interracial marriages. This makes the idea of preventing gay marriage a bit uncomfortable, but more importantly it leads to questions about the entire concept of a marriage license.
In modern days most states require both people to appear and prove who they are. In addition many states have a waiting period and a few require blood tests to ensure that there is no sexually transmitted diseases. Even these are questionable though as international human rights laws guarantee the right to marry the person of their choice2.
Again this leads to a significant question of whether the government should be issuing these marriage licenses at all. After all, the idea of a license implies that the government has the right to prohibit those types of marriages which is technically against the international human rights laws.
This leads to a question of what it might mean if the government were to eliminate the entire idea. The first and simplest would be that instead of a license you would simply report a marriage. In this case nothing would need change except eliminating any requirements. In this way inheritance law would not need to be changed.
As the government involves itself in more and more of our lives often the biggest controversies in government can be eliminated simply by removing itself from the argument and one of the easiest ways that the government could solve this controversial subject is to admit that it is not, and never should have been, the job of government to control marriages.