Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time to get the government out of the business of defining marriage

"Gay rights" activists and their opponents have placed and kept the issue of same-sex marriage in the forefront of the news for several years.  The latest battlefield has been California, where the state's Supreme Court first struck down a ban on the practice, then voters passed a new ban, which the Court has now upheld.  (Link to story here.)

But what is marriage anyway?  And what institutions should be allowed to determine who can and can't be married to one another - or what "marriages" must be recognized by what institutions?

Should the government, state or federal, be the decider?  (Thanks to George W. Bush for bringing that silly word into common parlance.)

No.  Backing the government as the institution to define private social order seems out of whack to me.  I know that government has assumed the role for years, centuries even.  But should government be allowed to tell churches, denominations, or religions (most of which don't recognize or allow same-sex marriage - link here for a rundown).  Again . . . no.  Government telling Catholics or Mormons or Southern Baptists or Methodists or Muslims that two men or two women are "married" doesn't seem right to me.  And it wouldn't seem right that government could tell members of the United Church of Christ or Reformist Jews that gay couples could not be wed.  To me it is a matter of religious freedom and government has no place.

But the issue does not stop there.  Gay couples don't just want to be "married."  They want the rights and privileges that extend to married couples in the law.  And that is a different issue.  It is the government's place to determine whether or not couples, gay or straight, should be given legal advantages over individuals or other groups.  Those issues could and should be addressed cooly, calmly, and individually rather than collectively in the heated debates that we've seen over same-sex marriage.


dameon said...

This is a topic I've struggled with for quite a while. Really, there are two issues here: the religious institution of marriage, and the legal definition.

The real problem is that for quite some time, the government and society has created laws and rules that have catered to "married" couples. In a perfect world, this should not have been done.

Quite frankly, all a legal marriage license is, is a civil, legal, union between two people. In terms of the text book definition of marriage, the term applies. Therefore, a civil union of two people is, technically a marriage.

Unfortunately for the gay community, people have come to view the term "marriage" as a religious institution as well.

Should the government forbid a legal union (i.e., marriage) between to people of the same sex? Probably not. Not anymore than it should forbid the union of two people of opposite sex, or for that matter polygamy, or the union of two closely related people.

However, the government steps in on many similar social issues. Prostitution is the one that comes to mind. As long as it's behind closed doors, what's the problem, from a society perspective?

So, although from a religious perspective, I cannot condone gay marriage, from a governmental perspective, I have to agree with SLC - the government should get out of it.

St. Louis Conservative said...

If only everyone else agreed with me too - all the time - the world would be a happier place.