Thu 28 Mar 2013
Everyone is a bit abuzz with the Supreme Court cases regarding marriage. I’m a bit swamped at the moment but wanted to briefly share my thoughts on the subject.
The Nature of Marriage
What is marriage to you? Is it two people publicly committing to build a lasting relationship together? Is it a relationship pact framed by a set of theological considerations? Is it the formation of a specific legal arrangement between two people as a household that conveys certain legal considerations?
Should the Supreme Court be Involved?
Many people see this as a decision that should belong to the States. I would entertain such an argument, but this document kicks it to the curb: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040.pdf Boxes one through five set up Federal differentiation among citizens based on marital state. That makes this a Federal issue. Regardless of what you think the foundation of marriage is, the fact that specific legal rights and responsibilities are established by Federal law on the basis of marital status makes this a Federal issue that needs to be settled at the Federal level.
Is Marriage is Based on Theology?
If you believe that marriage is an institution of God, then you must fall into one of a couple of camps:
1 – Marriage has a religious basis, and since the Constitution specifies that no citizen will be accorded preferential or discriminatory treatment on the basis of religion, the United States should not be in the business of messing with marriage in any way. Marriages belong to the Church, not the State.
2 – Marriage has a religious basis, and the Constitution’s “more perfect union” should be overthrown and replaced by a “more Godly union” where “more Godly” reflects your own religious beliefs.
If you see marriage as having a basis in religion, you really can’t claim to believe in our Constitutional right to freedom of religion and SIMULTANEOUSLY believe that the government should have *any* role in recognizing *any* form of marriage. Is it based in religion or is it secular?
If religion is a civil union, the United States should not discriminate based on religious definition of marriage. Which religion? If a person’s religion allows polygamy would you support that as legally married, or is it just your religion that is to be recognized? What about divorce? If a marriage is an eternal God-approved bond, can you allow the government to recognize a second marriage?
As for me, I don’t think any civil legal discrimination on the basis of marital status should occur. Let’s leave marriage to be a personal choice based on individual ethics and religion. Leave the government out completely. In terms of legal benefits, I think anyone should be able to form a household that chooses to live under the same roof together.
A 4o-something man taking care of his 80-something mother with Alzheimer’s? Household. Two siblings living together? Household. A single mom with two kids? Household. Two old men who’d rather live together and play chess in their golden years than die alone? Household. A multi-racial couple? Household! Gay couple? That, too, is a household.
The government has NO BUSINESS telling us how to live our lives in ways that bring us contentment, joy or simple companionship. This is WAY BEYOND gay or straight. This is about our freedom in “pursuit of happiness” and is therefore a central part of what it means to be an American.
If you believe that government should define marriage to be a civil institution which is in turn defined by your religious beliefs, then you do not actually believe in the Constitutional right to freedom of religion: you want the government to define and discriminate on the basis of marriage as defined by your religion (and no more nor less!). There’s no way around that.
Note that throughout all of this, I have no problem with what you and your particular religion recognizes as marriage. I just have a problem if you claim the government should make your religious view of marriage into a *civil* institution. You can’t support the American Way AND the imposition of a particular religious viewpoint on all people. Choose.
As for me, I *believe* in the American Experiment. I believe in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. I believe in YOUR right to marry according to the rules of God as you see them, but I believe in right of others who believe differently from you as well. I do NOT believe in your right to require everyone to adhere to your religious views.
You cannot be intellectually honest while claiming that you believe in freedom of religion AND wanting the government to define marriage according to a particular set of religious views. Do you want the government regulating religion or not? Choose, and state your view with integrity.