What’s At Stake?

Today, the Supreme Court kicked off two days of hearing arguments for and against same-sex marriage.  No matter what they decide, these hearings are bound to upset a large swath of our country.

I recently read an article on CNN’s website that presented, I think, a well-reasoned argument for same-sex marriage.  You can click here for the entire article, but I wanted to share some of the points raised by the author, and what I thought about his opinion.

“Religious liberty, as the American Jewish Committee told the Supreme Court recently in a friend-of-the-court brief, does not give anyone the right to demand that someone else be deprived of the “right to live the most intimate portions of their lives according to their own deepest convictions.” That some religious groups regard same-sex marriage as an “abomination” does not authorize the government to ban such relationships. That is one price we all pay for protecting religious liberty.”

Take a second and read that again, and remind yourself that the author, Marc D. Stern, is general counsel for the American Jewish Committee.  Specifically, the part that reads, “That some religious groups regard same-sex marriage as an “abomination” does not authorize the government to ban such relationships. That is one price we all pay for protecting religious liberty.”  The price we pay for protecting religious liberty (sounds little like the First Amendment to me) is protecting those with beliefs, values, or lifestyles that are contrary to those held by a particular religion.  In other words, imposing a religious mandate, in this case banning same-sex marriage, is exactly the opposite of what the First Amendment is there for.  People who are adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds seem to consistently forget about the First Amendment right of citizens of this country to be free from religion; we have no nationalized religion.

“Conversely, when government does recognize same-sex marriage, it creates a new set of problems for the liberties of religious believers.  Must rabbis, priests and pastors provide religious marriage counseling to same-sex couples?”

The easy answer to that question is no, rabbis, priests, and pastors would not (or should not) be compelled to provide religious counseling to same-sex couples, just like Chick-fil-A cannot be compelled to open on Sundays.

Lost in the argument against same-sex marriages based on religious grounds is the fact that the ceremony that takes place in the church is virtually meaningless in the eyes of state government and the federal government.  That is why, before two people can get married, they have to apply for a marriage license at a courthouse and not a church; the state sees it as two people of legal age, or with consent, entering into a contract.  Nothing more.  Nowhere on a marriage license or application is there fine print that says that the couple must now attend weekly church services, or attend church at all.  Which is why, and I have written this before, I can legally perform wedding ceremonies as a notary; the couple that I performed a ceremony for in August are legally married, just like the two couples I am performing ceremonies for next month will be legally married.  None of the ceremonies will have taken place in a church, yet all are valid marriages.

If you believe in God (I do), and you believe that we are all made in God’s image, how can you justify the denigration of homosexuals by limiting their right to enter into a valid legal contract?  Same-sex marriage, if made legal, will have absolutely zero impact on my marriage at all.  Zero.  None.  It will have no impact on how I raise my daughter.  If, when she is older, she decides she does not want to get married, it will not be because same-sex marriage was allowed; if she comes to Amber and I when she is older and “comes out,” we will still love her just the same as we did 10 minutes before her announcement.

The question I always circle back to when I talk to people about this topic is, “How exactly does it impact you personally, or your marriage, if homosexuals are allowed to marry?”  The truth is that it does not impact you at all.  I once asked a friend of mine who is gay how he felt about the issue, and he told me he really did not care one way or the other because he had no plans on getting married anyway; I would venture a guess that since it does not impact his life, that is his rationale for not caring about the issue.

“The Court can make all winners, or at least avoid allowing one side to suppress the other’s deepest beliefs.”

Exactly.

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