As a kid, I remember watching a rerun of the 1952 I Love Lucy Show episode in which Lucy finds her marriage license while cleaning out a closet. She discovers, to her horror, a typo that refers to husband Ricky’s last name as Bacardi rather than Ricardo, which causes her to question the legality of her marriage.
The ensuing hijinks are the makings of sitcom legend. I’ve thought about that episode in the years in which the contentious battle over gay marriage has unfolded, as it touches on a key part of the public-policy question embodied in the Supreme Court’s two big decisions this week. How important is the approval of the state — epitomized by the marriage license — in sanctioning a marriage?
In 2013 rather than the 1950s, a technical error on a marriage certificate wouldn’t cause anyone consternation. But let’s say, for some reason or another, the government invalidated my marriage. Would it matter?