Rand Paul to government: 'Get out of the marriage business.' Is that possible?

The presidential candidate broke his silence on Friday’s Supreme Court ruling dealing with the legality of same-sex marriages.

Andrew Harnik/AP
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, Thursday, June 18, 2015.

"Government should get out of the marriage business altogether," Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Monday in an essay in Time.

The presidential candidate was voicing his opinion on a landmark Supreme Court ruling, which on Friday made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

Sticking to his libertarian roots, he wondered whether, “The time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.” Senator Paul believes that the case against federal involvement is clear, writing, “The Constitution is silent on the question of marriage because marriage has always been a local issue.”

In his essay, Paul asks “What does government convey along with marriage, and should it do so? Should the government care, or allocate any benefits based on marital status?”

The sheer volume of benefits offered to married Americans may make it difficult for the United States to disentangle itself from the "marriage business." In the US, there are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections granted under legal marital status, based on federal law, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Benefits of marriage extend to areas of Social Security, tax law, immigration, employee benefits for federal workers, and health coverage to name a few.

Paul has addressed a few of these complexities in the past. Under the current US tax code, areas of income, estate and gift, and payroll taxes are subject to benefits through marriage. In 2013, he spoke with Fox News, saying, “We wouldn’t have marriage as part of the tax code” if the tax code were to be reformed to the flat-tax system he supports. He also spoke to the complexity of health insurance saying, “I think there is a way to write it where it would be neutral and you wouldn't bring marriage into the whole idea of health insurance."

The issue of immigration is closely linked to marriage under current immigration law, which allows spouses of US citizens or permanent residents to enter the country much more easily. On immigration, Paul's campaign website says the senator “[does] not support amnesty, but rather [he] support[s] a legal immigration process.” 

Under current Social Security law, surviving spouses are eligible to receive Social Security payments, among other benefits. Paul's current platform maintains that he is “committed to fixing the Social Security program,” including “preserving the system for seniors” and “implementing reforms to save the program for younger generations.” However, the presidential candidate has not yet explained how removing government from marriage would impact his plans for current and future Social Security benefits.  

In 2009, Paul argued that the decision of the legality of same-sex marriage should be left to the states. Since then, he has largely maintained this stance, particularly when combining this argument with opposition to federalization, characteristic of his libertarian roots.

However, Paul has also stated that he believes in "the traditional religious connotation" to marriage. This past March, Paul spoke with a group of pastors, saying that a "moral crisis" in the United States has "led people to think there is some other kind of marriage."

But Paul also writes, "I for one will stand ready to resist any intrusion of government into the religious sphere." 

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