Should government be in the marriage-recognition business? Some libertarians and conservatives say no. They argue that marriage is a private contract. Consequently, the state ought not to be involved with it. Of course all sort of private contracts involve the state, but many libertarians and conservatives reject government involvement in these areas of contract, too, so they have no difficulty adding marriage to the list.
As a private arrangement without government licensing, marriage would, on this view, not entangle the citizenry through their government in the messy business of same-sex marriage. Some libertarians and conservatives even go so far as to argue that it would be unjustly discriminatory for government to endorse one view of marriage (one man/one woman) over another (same-sex marriage or polygamous marriage). Many, if not most, libertarians and conservatives who argue this way claim to be traditional Christians, who uphold on religious and (they would say) private grounds marriage between one man and one woman.