The economy must be roaring, because conservatives have moved on to doom one of their most vested interests: marriage.

Echoing libertarians, the newest conservative talking point on the gay marriage debate – the Supreme Court will weigh in today – is “get the government out of the business of marriage,” as Ben Shapiro recently wrote.

Ron Paul made similar remarks during the 2012 primary debates, but is now out of the public eye; so prominent conservatives are trying to fill the void by throwing harebrained ideas into the fray.

Taking the government out of marriage is a sure way to destroy marriage and any hopes of shrinking government at all. By doing so, we’ll be funding larger welfare programs and facing an even more anemic culture in terms of things like drug usage, sexual promiscuity, and crime.

In this utopia without government marriage, churches and local organizations would handle the issue. The Catholic Church will marry its members. Protestant churches will marry Protestants. And the Westboro Baptist Church will marry cousins.

With none of these marriages legally binding, what’s to stop one of the parties — probably the dad — from bowing out some time down the line, leaving behind a wife and kids?

A man could marry a woman from many churches or organizations – potentially be married to them all at once. He could have kids with all of them. What happens when the woman becomes financially dependent on him, unable to support herself and her children once he leaves? Where will she go for help?

Uncle Sam.

All the voting public needs to see is a Democrat bawling over a single mother whose husband has deserted her and her kids. “Who do I make the check out to,” the public asks.

This has already happened in communities, primarily minority communities, and primarily blacks. The black family has continued to break down without the presence of fathers legally bound by the government to provide for both the wife and children. 72-percent of blacks are born into families led by an unwed mother.

What do you think the welfare rates are for these families?

And we haven’t even discussed the larger effects broken families have on society (that’s you, libertarian). Children raised by single mothers account for 70-percent of the youth incarcerated in state juvenile centers and 60-percent of rapists. The Progressive Policy Institute found that, if you control for single motherhood, the differences between black and white crime rates disappear.

Single-mother households also result in 70-percent of teen suicides and 71-percent of adolescent substance abusers. Girls raised in fatherless homes are more promiscuous and are more likely to get divorced. 70-percent of teenage births come from these homes.

What would getting the government out of the marriage business mean? It would mean that marriage is no longer a public good. No longer worth regulating, no longer worth promoting. Unless couples went through the painstaking process of legally contracting their relationship before getting married with the church, we can expect to see more of the effects I described above.

And why wouldn’t these ills become more common? When you get married, the government takes care of most of the legal necessities for you. You take the government out of that equation (meaning, the government no longer “subsidizes” marriage) and it will become less prevalent.
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Marriage is easily accessible for a reason.

And then there’s the practicality of the issue. Government is already in marriage. And it’s in deep. Not only do we use marriage records to tell who’s married and who’s divorced, but also to determine Medicare and Social Security benefits, tax rates, inheritance, and child custody cases.

Marriage is our most important and necessary building block for healthy children and a healthy society. It’s also key to the success of the Republican party. (Check out the research in that last link. It really is stunning.)

So yes, keeping and promoting government marriage is very unlibertarian, but then again, we’re conservatives — so get over it. Conservatism needs to stop being discussed in those terms of always seeking freedom and liberty. It’s more than that.

Even if same-sex marriage becomes a reality, keep the government in marriage.

Keith Fierro | California State University at Fullerton | @kjfierro