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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf
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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Married by Clergy or by the State?

Yesterday, I posted about an ad campaign to convince New Jersey residents to support same-sex marriage because civil unions are a separate-but-inequal alternative to marriage. But should states even be in the business of regulating who can marry whom?

No, says my colleague Don, a gay Virginian. Another of our colleagues feels that couples of any sex should be legally joined by civil unions and that people who want to be married should look to their religious institutions for that. Don says:
This echoes my opinion. I would go even further and say any couple of whatever combination of sex or sexes should be allowed to marry civilly. The law ought to fully recognize the distinction between a civil marriage ceremony and a religious marriage ceremony. Gay people have never asked that [religious organizations] be mandated to marry them. Gay people have asked that the state be compelled to marry them.

Then there are those who say that gay people would sue [religious organizations] for discrimination if they refused to marry them. I would no more expect that gay people would demand that a [religious organization] marry them than I would expect that they would demand that a [religious organization] be compelled to offer communion or the blessing of that [organization] to anyone who asked for it. What the state does and what the church does are and ought to be totally distinct.

Not to allow gay couples the advantages of marriage—using precisely that word—is to deny them the advantages given to straight couples, and that is discrimination.

This issue was never as high on my agenda as it has been on the agenda of some other gay people. But by gum, when politicians begin to use fear and discrimination to persuade unthinking voters that it is right to diddle with state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution in order to deny instead of to guarantee rights, it gets my dander up. The issue is not now and has never been about religion or what [religious organizations] might elect to do.

It saddens me to think that a few generations from now, Virginia's voters will have to go to all the trouble of undoing the damage done to the state's citizens by its voters last month. Those voters 50 years from now, I am sure, will look back on the 2006 amendment to the constitution banning gay marriage the same way we now look back on Loving et ux. v. Virginia and wonder, "What the heck were they thinking?"
Don's argument makes perfect sense to me. If only all the homophobes would dare to truly think what damage they're doing ...



1 comment:

sjr5 said...

This is totally what I believe. I got married back in ancient history, but it was basically a "civil union," since we got married in Manhattan's borough hall, and nothing to do with religion at all. There are plenty of priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. (imams? that I don't know), who are willing to perform religious ceremonies for those who want them (my sister, an interfaith minister, is one of them).

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