Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul sits in the audience prior to testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on April 15, 2015.
Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

Rand Paul and the privatization of marriage

There are a variety of issues in which Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) chooses not to toe the party line, and in theory, marriage equality seems like an issue in which the Kentucky Republican would go his own way. But for the GOP presidential candidate, it gets a little tricky.
On the one hand, Paul sees himself as representing the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, which is generally supposed to be forward-thinking on issues like gay rights. But on the other hand, Paul also believes in pandering to social conservatives – in March he told religious right activists that he not only opposes marriage equality, he also sees the debate itself as evidence of a “moral crisis.”
So, now that equal marriage rights are the law of the land, what’s the GOP senator to do? In a piece for Time magazine yesterday, Paul fleshed out a vision that effectively calls for the privatization of marriage.
Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.
Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do – taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government’s involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right.
So now, states such as Alabama are beginning to understand this as they begin to get out of the marriage licensing business altogether. Will others follow?
It’s an oddly written piece, endorsing the idea of people entering into private contracts – presumably, loving couples would hear, “I now pronounce you contractually obligated partners” at their ceremonies – without marriage licenses. Indeed, as Rand Paul sees it, the generations-old practice of receiving official marriage licenses from state and local governments is itself bad for the institution of marriage.
We apparently just didn’t notice.
The piece added, “Some have argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling will now involve the police power of the state in churches, church schools, church hospitals.”
Of course, “some have argued” lots of things. For policymakers and would-be national leaders, the goal should be to have the judgment and good sense to look past nonsense that “some have argued” and instead focus on reality.
The idea that officials might scrap the very institution of civil marriage, all because some conservatives have a problem with gay people, may seem absurd, but Rand Paul isn’t the only one talking about this approach – some officials in the Deep South are considering scrapping marriage licenses for literally everyone.
As ridiculous as it may seem, this is a development worth watching.
Postscript: Just as an aside, is it me or is Rand Paul’s relationship with Time magazine a little odd? It’s not unusual for prominent public officials to occasionally publish pieces in major news outlets, but Time seems to have become a clearinghouse of sorts for Rand Paul’s thoughts on nearly every subject. Just over the last 16 months, the magazine has published pieces from the Republican senator on criminal justice, Russia, ISIS, Cuba, Ferguson, religion, NSA surveillance, race, and the Patriot Act. among other thingsThat’s quite a platform for one senator and presidential candidate to have from one media outlet.