May. 25th, 2009

catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (not just for)
I came upon a comment that I had written five months ago, and realized that I have made some significant changes in the past few months in my position on the subject of same-sex marriage.

I was formerly in favor of civil unions and domestic partnership legislation. A few months ago I said: "I agree with ...*... (and others who have said the same) that 'If we are going to grant such rights and privileges, it needs to be on the basis of civil unions, NOT marriage. Both gays and straights should be required to have a civil union to receive those privileges. Marriage should be an optional religious institution.' That would eliminate one major roadblock to equality under law in recognizing relationships." In other words, I was in favor of reserving the word "marriage" for the religiously-recognized institution, while calling the civil contract recognized by the state as legally binding by another name, something like a civil union or domestic partnership, whether it is between same-sex or opposite-sex partners.

Why have I changed my mind about this? The more I think about it, the more I realize that the religious definition of marriage cannot be allowed to shape the legal definition. Out of all the different spiritual paths and faith traditions in this country, why privilege those which have a so-called "traditional" definition of marriage, whether it is defined by being heterosexual or it is defined by "husband as head, wife as body," over those which do not?

Do we privilege one religious definition over another because more people in the U.S.A. subscribe to a particular religious tradition than to another one? That's a prescription for persecution. Majority rule can never be allowed to govern in matters of religious faith. We saw the consequences of that in the religious wars in Europe before the founding of this country, and that experience taught our founders that the government should never have the power to make any religious belief into civil law. We need to be consistent about this. If we allow that for the issue of the definition of marriage, then it's hypocritical for me to complain about other aspects of law being defined by a majority religious view.

I still support an exemption for religious institutions (particularly clergy and houses of worship) from being forced to recognize or celebrate a same-sex marriage. However, that exemption relates to their religious function, and how far it extends when religious organizations engage in activities not specifically religious in nature will inevitably be something that must be battled out through litigation and/or legislation. I don't see a way to avoid that. Choosing to avoid the hassle by accepting an inherently wrong principle, that a majority religious view should decide the content of civil law, is far worse than the alternative of working through years of uncertainty.


catecumen: Ellen custom made by dhampir (Default)

September 2012

232425262728 29

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags