A license is a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal. State governments issue licenses to protect certain activities in which that state government has a compelling interest. One must have a license to drive, to fly, to practice medicine, to conduct certain business, to teach school, to practice cosmetology, to join the bar and to own one. In order to get married, one must possess a marriage license.
Each license comes with a set of qualifications that must be proven in order to obtain it. Those qualifications always indicate the government’s compelling interest in the activity. To drive, one must prove he or she is a safe and capable driver. The government’s compelling interest is safety. To teach school, one must prove he or she is equipped to teach adequately, prepare children for the rigors of society, and handle unique challenges of certain students. The government’s compelling interest is to perpetuate what is best for the children.
Marriage is the stable platform from which families are launched. Government surely has a compelling interest in ensuring the stability of that platform, and even subsidizing the practice with tax incentives. Moreover, society has an interest in promoting procreation amongst married adults. Same-sex marriage does not present the possibility of natural procreation nor has same-sex parenting endured and thrived for millennia of human experience.
In our legal system, qualifications for licenses have long-standing foundation, and those qualifications are not considered discriminatory. They are considered to be necessary to pursue the interest of the public. In the case of marriage, those interests are all about children.
— Steve King represents the Iowa’s fourth congressional district.