Marriage and the State

Marriage and the State

In the UK, and in most countries, the state is deeply involved with the institution of marriage. For example, the law in England has, since 1753, not allowed for the existence of marriages contracted in England or Wales outside certain prescribed modes. Furthermore, according to the law, every marriage contracted in England or Wales has to be registered with the state. Finally, the state also makes many laws concerning married couples, from criminal laws such as the prohibition of bigamy, to the provision of tax breaks to married couples.

Is this really the best relationship between the state and the institution of marriage, however? Is it even permissible for the state to meddle in marriage in this way? Is it really permissible for the state to discriminate against the unmarried in its laws? And is it permissible for the state to insist that all marriages must be registered?

On the other hand, what would a state without marriage laws look like? What laws should be enacted concerning provision for the deceased’s loved ones in cases of intestacy or succession of tenancy? And should immigration law afford special recognition to the loved ones of a British citizen?

The ‘Marriage and the State’ project, led by Dr Daniel Hill, proposes to examine these questions and think deeply about marriage, the state, and their interrelation.

Dr Hill’s blog posts on marriage and the state can be seen at:


His detailed published case for cutting the connection between the state and the institution of marriage can be seen at

For more information, please contact Dr Hill at