EspañolA new virtual era has arrived in the United States. The first “blockchain wedding” was held on Sunday, August 5, during a bitcoin conference at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The marriage was performed and registered without the involvement of any government or religious organization, and instead submitted to an online public registry: the bitcoin blockchain.
The blockchain is a decentralized, secure database that allows transactions to be seen by other users. This technology allows users to send digital currency like bitcoin, or specific documents and messages that are incorporated into the database. The blockchain offers complete transparency over all user transactions.
David Mondrus and Joyce Bayo, who had already been married in a civil ceremony, made history by submitting their nuptials to the blockchain. The wedding was broadcast live via the libertarian social media network Liberty.me, whose founder and director, Jeffrey Tucker, presided over the ceremony.
“For better or worse, ’til death do us part, because the blockchain is forever,” read the couple’s message recorded to the blockchain. The groom told Tucker in an interview that he considers marriage more of a promise than a contract.
During the ceremony the newlyweds “burned” 0.1 bitcoins (US$32.5) using a bitcoin ATM, officially and permanently submitting their wedding vows to the database.
After offering the traditional “I do,” the couple displayed the QR code of their “transaction” — a sign of the permanence of their vows that will exist as long as the internet.
“We believe that like the blockchain, our love and marriage are forever and that our relationship is not defined by governments or the church. So enshrining our commitment to each other in the blockchain in front of our friends is very dear to us,” Mondrus said in a press release.
Mondrus is the CEO of RedboxJewels.com, an online store that offers customers the option of using bitcoins to purchase jewelry. He is also an adviser to Bitnation, a newly founded decentralization services company. The company allows all types of contracts to be stored on the blockchain, from wills and divorces, to prenuptial and commercial contracts.
Through the use of a “smart contract,” a couple can upload their marriage certificate and associate it with a shared bitcoin wallet, identifying in advance clauses that will be automatically executed if certain conditions are met in the future.
In an interview with the PanAm Post, Matt Gilliland, blockchain wedding attendee and program coordinator at Liberty.me, described the wedding as a “marriage of ideals.”
“[These are] two people who love each other very much — the groom glowed when he and I talked about his wife — announcing to the world that they need no permission to record their commitment to one another. Jeffrey Tucker gave a wonderful speech, and definitely got a few people’s tear ducts flowing. The record in the blockchain is merely vows — no contract — but it’s an important symbol of their pledge both to one another and to the fight for freedom.
Gilliland added that he believes this wedding was an important first step: “In future years, we’ll have real, enforceable contracts between loving partners encoded in the blockchain.”
Politics of Marriage
Sunday’s wedding not only highlighted technological advances permitted by blockchain transactions, it also deepened debate surrounding the state’s role in the registration, execution, and enforcement of contracts between individuals.
Tucker says these developments will resolve many marital problems, if the state will relinquish control of the institution of marriage. According to the writer and entrepreneur, the private affairs of individuals should be managed by private laws and voluntary agreements. Disputes, which will always exist, could be negotiated between private arbitrators.
In a column on Liberty.me, Tucker explained that in the world we live in today, couples who want to marry must navigate a variety of bureaucratic obstacles.
“Moving agreements to the blockchain detaches the vows from the court system, the political system, jurisdictional geography, and third parties in general, among which the state itself,” he writes. “It’s a form of privatizing your own marriage, transferring it from the public sector to the realm of private decision making — the two people who actually make the marriage happens — where it belongs.”
EspañolJust to be clear, I don’t actually want the job. I’m happy in retirement and would rather stay that way. However, as I have said many times on this blog, Puerto Rico needs fundamental change. Not all that I propose for the commonwealth needs to come under independence, although most does. Right now, there are things that can be done in Puerto Rico, that should be done, to save the island from absolute disaster — as if it weren’t already there. So I was kicking around the idea with some of my libertarian friends from Puerto Rico. Why not a write-in campaign for governor, to give people an opportunity to vent their frustration with the two-party system? I’m not interested in campaign contributions or running any ads, so please, don’t send them. I will toss them in the garbage. Is there any other way for voters to express their frustration in a positive way? The current governor has helped extend the disaster, while the previous governor tried to rein it in but still ran up a huge debt and got booted from office. The current field of pro-statehood gubernatorial candidates don’t offer much either. Resident Commissioner (the title of Puerto Rico’s delegate to Congress) Pedro Pierluisi wants to raise medical services to the level of a constitutional right, and upstart Ricky Rosselló isn’t really offering anything more than his father’s name (former Governor Pedro Rosselló). So what happened to the free-market wing in the New Progressive Party? They are the ones who started the new movement. What happened to them? Luis Fortuño was a fiscal conservative and, as I’ve mentioned before, tried to do the right thing and cut government. But there is so much more than needs to be done. Reducing the commonwealth government by 50 percent is a start, then cutting and streamlining taxes. We should credit the current Popular Democratic Party leadership with trying to do that with tax reform, but it’s not enough. We have to repeal the ant-business legislation passed under the administration of Anibal Acevedo Vila, which Caribbean Business says led to the closures of 12,000 businesses on the island. We need to attack crime and deal with the war on drugs and attack corruption directly. No one is talking about this. These are all avoided issues. So, should I allow my name to be used in a protest write-in campaign, or should we find someone else perhaps more qualified? What would I propose as the points of this write in campaign? While they are up for discussion, here are 10 proposals off the top of my head: 1. Cut government by no less than 50 percent via privatization, reorganization, and layoffs. 2. Repeal public-sector union laws — all of them. 3. Hold a referendum on the death penalty. 4. Develop an "untouchables" wing of the police and Justice Department to go after official corruption. 5. Legalize prostitution and marijuana, and ease rules on gambling. 6. Repeal many of those anti-business laws. 7. Call a referendum between statehood or independence only; and place "free association" under the possible independence options since it is a form of independence. 8. Invest in building a nuclear power plant on Mona Island to provide baseline electricity to Puerto Rico, so that we can cut electricity rates (and thus water rates) by half. (Punish people who steal water and electricity.) 9. Review and improve the entire base of infrastructure of the island, using the savings from cutting government. 10. Put the concept of "equal protection under law" back into divorce, child custody, and domestic violence laws by making sure men are treated the same as women. Can you think of other campaign issues that should be included in this list? Would you support a write-in campaign for governor of Puerto Rico with my name or someone else’s being used? Maybe it could be as simple as asking people to write "Basta Ya" (enough) on their ballots in the write-in section. Basta Ya is a clear nonpartisan message that isn't tied to one person or an ideology and would perhaps welcome more people from a wider group of voters who, like so many others, are simply fed up with the same old tired excuses of the two major parties. You tell me what you think is the right course. The two-party system in Puerto Rico has failed again. Let’s begin the discussion on how to fix it.