People fall in love everyday and every weekend there are countless marriages taking place all over the United States. However, when reflecting upon whether or not it’s fair to not allow everyone opportunity at marriage, the government simply appears to be taking control of an institution they created. When the institution of marriage was created long before any records in history, the main point of marriage was to bond family ties. Many of these marriages were not freely chosen but were arranged but these marriages shared the same goal with the marriage of today which, according to Tia Ghose in “History of Marriage,” marriage [is] a way of getting in-laws, of making alliances and expanding the family labor force” (Ghose, 2013). Thus, if it is the government which gives out the benefits legally married people receive, then it makes sense that, by law, society has a right to determine who has the privilege of receiving a marriage license in the United States.
Marriage is a symbol of love, affection, and commitment for a couple. However, although this is what the symbol of marriage appears like with all the glitz and glamour of most weddings, the initial institution of marriage was not so much about love. Indeed, love wasn’t really a factor during pre-historical marriage and in many other countries, arranged marriages were and still are practiced to upkeep their family name and share family ties and perhaps wealth. Therefore, according to Nussbaum in “ A Right to Marry?,” if the government “confers and administers benefits” to legally married people, they have a right to determine the rules, regulations and limitations for those wishing to enter the “privileged civic status” called marriage (Nussbaum, 2009). While love is important for people seeking happiness through marriage, for the government marriage is a means of encouraging people to have children so there are more people in the country to work and create.
In this way, the United States can be a strong country with a lot of married people who show their kids how to grow up and contribute to society. As stated by Brown in “ The Federal Government Has the Right to Define Marriage,” marriage is a pre-political institution [whose sole purpose] was to propagate the human race, and encourage parents to raise their children to become responsible adults” (Brown, 2012). Thus, it’s very important for society to ensure that a marriage license isn’t just giving to anyone. However, since the government turned marriage into an institution with legal rules and regulations, it makes sense why state could decide to ban first cousin marriages, but allow same-sex marriages.
While not allowing everyone to receive the benefits of marriage in the United States may not the morally correct action to make, for the government who gives out marriage benefits is not a matter of prohibiting love but of keeping their allotment of marriage benefits available to people that fit the criteria. According to Brown, while “the United States Constitution says nothing about marriage, states have always been able [to] determine who may legally marry in the states” (Brown, 2012). Thus, because states make their own rules, they have the right to legally define what the rules and regulations of their state are, according to their own viewpoints. In this way, what appears to be a limitation of a couple showing their love through marriage, it’s really not. Even though unmarried people may not receive the government benefits given to legally married people, Nussbaum states that “it’s a fact that many unmarried couples live lives of intimacy, friendship, and mutual responsibility and have and raise children” in the same way that married couples do (Nussbaum, 2009). Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not a couple is legally married or not if all they care about is love. However, in terms of the government defining the rules of marriage, an institution they run in the United States, they do have a right to legally do this despite the moral aspects of their actions.