, Newburyport, MA

July 16, 2013

Keep the state out of marriage

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

In response to two recent letters debating the issue of same-sex marriage, I would like to remind readers that, in early America, there was no marriage licensing by states at all. In fact, it was the church that you chose to belong to that recognized your marriage. If you did not agree with a church’s conclusion on some controversy, there were others to choose from that might be more in keeping with your own faith. In a free society, one was free to worship God in any way one saw fit.

In his “Notes on Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson, the patron saint of libertarianism, goes one step further. “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Indeed, when John Adams married Abigail Smith by a Congregational minister, and when George Washington married Martha Custis in a grand ceremony, the church that they belonged to — not the state — recognized their marriages. Marriage certificates were signed by witnesses and blessed by God, not by the state or some bureaucrat looking down on us from their ivory towers.

In a self-reliant culture where parents enjoyed a wide array of low-cost private schools, the state’s role in our lives was kept to an absolute minimum. We should get government off our backs, out of our daily lives and out of our pockets. The state has no place interfering with the marketplace or that sacred institution of marriage that has so recently been turned into a political poker chip by the divorce lawyers’ powerful political lobby.

Max Abramson