What would the classical liberal view be on same- sex marriage?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I tend to think that the classically liberal view on same- sex marriage would be a complex one.  In terms of individual choice, the classical liberal would suggest that individuals who feel that their emotional satisfaction is determined by taking a partner of the same sex is something that government cannot and should not regulate.  The classical liberal sphere in which external control is limited and should not enter "the inner citadel, " as Sir Isaiah Berlin would put it.  I cannot imagine that a good classical liberal would find it acceptable that an external entity is able to step "into the bedroom" and mandate behavior.  Classical liberals are strong advocates of the government being as minimal as possible.  Behavior, especially sexual behavior, that does not trade off with the cost of others as an expression of individual action is something that would be off limits for government for a classical liberal.  In terms of marriage, I think that the classical liberal would hold the same line in terms of whether or not individuals can believe in their own sense of commitment and civil union.  Yet, if some type of political understanding is needed in order to sanction marriage, then I think that the classical liberal would see that a public vote or an expression in which individuals in the community come to an agreement is essential.  If one seeks to drive the issue of same sex marriage in a setting in which the body politic refuses to sanction it, then I think that the classical liberal would suggest that such an issue would have to be voted upon by the citizens.

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