Saturday, August 4, 2012

Defending Marriage? From what?

This is the next in what is likely going to be a short series on homosexuality and the gay marriage debate. In my state, gay marriage was passed, but then conservatives got a petition together and it will now be on the ballot this coming election. Personally, I'm in favor of gay marriage being legal and see no logical reason that it shouldn't be. Why should it be that my wife and I can share our life and love in marriage, but two people of the same sex can't?

I've heard a few answers, but none have met the measure of a good argument. Obviously, there's the
religious argument. Which if that's your reason, the problem is yours... or at the very least, your religion's. We live in a country where church and state are separate. This means that the church can't dictate what the government can do, and the government can't tell the church what it can do (as long as their not doing anything illegal).

That's important, and is tied to the most common reason I hear outside of the religious one. That reason is that they want to "defend marriage", or "defend traditional marriage". Um... wait, since when is it under attack. Gay marriage being legalized has absolutely no effect on the rights of heterosexual couples to marry, or the couples that are already married. The impression I get from people making this argument is like they think that gay marriage being legalized would mean that ONLY gay marriage would be legal and that the news of gay marriage being legalized would cause the husband to say to his wife of thirty years, "See you Sally, I have to go marry Tom now".

Gay marriage being legalized does not replace heterosexual marriage. It simply extends the rights enjoyed by many to a group who have long been kept from those rights. It's a simple broadening of marriage in the name of equality. Something that is long overdue. Same as when marriage was broadened to allow inter-racial marriages (and various other revisions to 'marriage'). Heterosexual couples will still be able to get married, and (if legal) homosexual couples will also be able to get married.

Now, some may worry about churches having to perform gay marriage ceremonies. Again, not a problem. If one even bothers to read the law that legalized same sex marriage in Maryland, it is obvious that this isn't an issue. The law actually states that churches will not be compelled to perform same sex marriages. They could if they wanted to, but they wouldn't be required to. But what if a state law tried to force churches to perform same sex marriages, that were outside of their belief structure? Remember that wall between church and state? That wall that the religious who long for a theocracy often wish to tear down, would actually protect the churches in that hypothetical case.

That federal separation of church and state would override the state law, and free churches from having to perform ceremonies that are against their beliefs. I may not agree with their belief, but I feel that they are free to hold the beliefs that they wish. I actually agree that churches shouldn't be forced to marry same sex couples. Here's why... the Constitution. Time and time again, we see that the separation of church and state no only protects the non-believer, but the believer as well.

But I feel I've gone off on a tangent... Lets be very clear that my state's law already has a provision freeing churches from performing marriages that conflict with their faith, if they wish not to perform these ceremonies. So, what's so wrong with allowing people in love to marry one another, be it in a church, as the court house, or by a hired officiant? After all, marriage is all about love is it not? So spread the love and allow marriage equality to stand and spread. Because it seems clear to me that if you seek to withhold equality in this way it ceases to be about love, and becomes about hate.

-BH

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