“My colleague has the right to live with his partner on the same legal terms that I live with my wife, but he does not have the right to insist that other people regard their relationship as marriage. Making laws about symbolism is not the business of the U.S. government.”
No, the colleague doesn’t have any right to live on the same legal terms as Friedman if both will be granted privileges and benefits at the expense of others. And that’s precisely what will happen. Government has no legitimate business at all, but legislating symbolism has to be one of it’s most benign activities. I couldn’t care less if the state declares that I’m a lazy-good-for-nothing-so-and-so as long as it keeps its mitts off my person and property. Wouldn’t Friedman greatly prefer a government that produced only symbolic gestures to one that produced material benefits and privileges for some at the expense of others?
By seeking to solve a problem of symbolism through legislation Friedman is confirming both sides in nonsense. It is nonsense for either side to be concerned with symbolic state gestures. There is nothing legitimate that the state can contribute to any marriage.