Alan Keyes
Why government involvement in marriage is vital
By Alan Keyes
January 30, 2014

Recent judicial rulings in Utah and Oklahoma setting aside overwhelming voter rejection of homosexual marriage have spawned a new libertarian proposal for "taking government out of the business of marriage." To some, this novel proposal may seem plausible on the surface, but in reality it amounts only to a cloaked assault on our liberty, and would further diminish our unalienable rights.

The controversy surrounding this proposal highlights how little some Americans understand the ideas that are the basis for our liberty. Government exists to secure God-endowed unalienable rights. It must therefore respect the individual activities and institutions that derive their existence from the exercise of those rights. The natural family is one of those institutions. It arises as, and when, individuals consent to implement the Creator's primordial command "Be fruitful and multiply!"

In order to secure something, government has to declare by law what defines it for purposes of government. Otherwise, it would be impossible for civil officers to make sure their acts and actions give due regard to its security. You can't respect a right when you don't recognize it as such. Hence legislation that formally declares what constitutes the institutional definition of the right when it comes to the use and abuse of government power.

Without such a rubric for marriage, decisions about things like parental authority, obligations of care with respect to children, attendant rights like the right to "raise up your child in the way that he should go" (Proverbs 22:6), and such would be decided a) by judges and administrators on an ad hoc basis; and b) on the basis of legislation or regulations unconstrained by the requirement to respect unalienable rights antecedent to government. (These antecedent rights are specifically protected from abuse on constitutional grounds by the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.)

If we value real liberty, we must think this through with careful logic, not adolescent sloganeering. Instead of freeing individuals from the interference of government, the abdication of government regulation of marriage, as some propose, would end up allowing government, de facto, to assume unlimited power to decide how a society's children are to be disposed of. Like many superficial "libertarian" ideas, it turns out to feed the government monster by abandoning unalienable rights – rights derived from the transcendent will of the One who created us. Respect for these God-endowed natural rights is the only thing that has ever successfully constrained forceful tyranny.

We cannot afford to forget that liberty is just one of our unalienable rights. We should reject people who want us to act like it's the only one. As Madison wrote in Federalist 51, "Justice is the end of government; it is the end of civil society. It has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained or until liberty be lost in the pursuit." If we forget the requirements of justice (in this case the unalienable rights of the natural family), liberty will perish, as the state fundamentally takes over the whole upbringing of each new generation.

Do you get it yet? The totalitarian socialists pushing for "gay marriage" (or abortion, or any other violation of unalienable right) know that Madison is correct. Like a master of jiu jitsu, these enemies of liberty use tactics that go along with the enthusiasm for liberty in order to execute maneuvers that overthrow liberty. I hope the people of Utah and Oklahoma have enough common sense to recognize and avoid this powerful trick.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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