[UPDATE #2: Someone in the comments thought I was being too harsh on Dalmia, that she wasn’t necessarily contradicting her own past views on the subject. Yes, she was. See my update at the bottom of the post.]
[UPDATE: The Tenth Amendment Center was similarly nonplussed by Dalmia’s article.]
I was minding my own business, reading Ed Stringham’s article on SF private police, when I saw a “Featured Article” from Shikha Dalmia titled, “Privatizing Marriage Is a Terrible Idea.” Naturally I clicked on it, because I had been reading scoldings from some of the cool kids on Facebook that those of us who had been skeptical of the Supreme Court ruling didn’t realize that this would finally get everybody to see the wisdom of separating marriage and State.
Anyway, Dalmia not only says privatizing marriage is a terrible idea, she says it’s “incoherent.” Then there’s this:
At the most basic level, even if we can get government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses, it still has to register these partnerships (and/or authorize the entities that perform them) before these unions can have any legal validity, just as it registers property and issues titles and deeds. Therefore, government would need to set rules and regulations as to what counts as a legitimate marriage “deed.” It won’t—and can’t—simply accept any marriage performed in any church—or any domestic partnership written by anyone. Suppose that Osho, the Rolls Royce guru who encouraged free sex before getting chased out of Oregon, performed a group wedding uniting 19 people. Would that be acceptable? How about a church wedding—or a civil union—between a consenting mother and her adult son? And so on—there are innumerable outlandish examples that make it plain that government would have to at least set the outside parameters of marriage, even if it wasn’t directly sanctioning them. [Bold added.]
It would be difficult to come up with better ammunition for Gene Callahan’s running critique of libertarianism. At least in Dalmia’s case, we see that her support for gay marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with freedom, individual expression, and tolerance. No, she thinks it’s fine for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman, and that’s why she wants the State to issue marriage licenses in those cases. But if three people consent to marriage? Nope, #LoveLoses because that’s just icky.
Here is what you need to do if right now you find yourself holding an outlier view, according to Dalmia:
Privatizing marriage can’t sidestep the broader questions about who should get married to whom and under what circumstances. In a liberal democracy, those who want to expand the scope of marriage have no choice but to fight—and win—the culture wars by slowly changing hearts and minds, just as they did with gay marriage. There are no cleaner shortcuts.
And there you have it. You want the right to do something? Reason‘s featured correspondent on this issue tells you: Convince 51% of us that it’s not weird.
In closing, let me acknowledge that of course there are different perspectives on this topic, and many other self-described libertarians are doing a better job of living up to their official value system. To showcase the irony, I grabbed this screenshot:
In case it’s not clear, Chapman doesn’t think the arguments against polygamy hold up.
UPDATE #2: To better understand why I’m making such a big deal out of this, and why Dalmia is contradicting her own stance on the issue, remember her opening sentence from a previous article on the Supreme Court ruling: “By advocating for limited government that stays out of the bedroom, we libertarians have played a crucial role in the American victory for same-sex marriage.”
So now we see that she was bluffing here, cloaking her personal tastes in a broad cloak of high-sounding principles that she doesn’t endorse. She very much wants the government in your bedroom, to limit occupants to two people at a time. Furthermore, they must be adults and unrelated biologically.
To be clear, I am not endorsing polygamy, incest, etc. What I’m saying is that some of the self-described libertarians running victory laps after the Supreme Court ruling are enunciating explanations that don’t make any sense.