Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Marriage - Legal Partnership and Religious Covenant

Orson Scott Card's call to arms against same-sex marriage churned in my mind for the past two days, and and spurred me to develop what I believe a workable solution.

The problems regarding marriage stem from the duality of that event; it is both legally binding contract AND religious ceremony. Both pro and con same-sex marriage arguments hold logical consistency from the appropriate perspective. Viewing marriage as a religious act of faith and devotion, why on earth should I accept the judge telling me that something I am taught is sinful has to be allowed? Conversely, I will let NO ONE tell me I am a second-class citizen and do not deserve the same rights as others based on who I love. Who is right? Both and neither.

The dilemma can be solved by breaking marriage into it's constituent parts: civil contract and religious ceremony. The State should only be allowed to perform civil unions, but these are the ONLY partnerships that carry ANY legal standing and should be allowed so long as both parties are consenting adults. The Church should only be allowed to perform marriage and "marriage" should have no civil meaning. In this fashion, religions may dictate who their church recognizes as couples and families however they choose while EVERY couples' rights remain preserved and protected.

Having two different levels of civil recognition will not work; that was thrown out in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka by it's sublet overthrow of the "separate but equal" doctrine. However, having government dictate the policies of religion or visa-versa flies in the face of our government which strives for religious acceptance. Let religions deal with marriage and leave the states to manage legal partnerships. It's a fair solution that removes much of the muddling surrounding the debate.

2 comments:

Harper Angel said...

i like your idea. would civil unions work for just same-sex marriages, or could it be done for both same-sex and hetro couples?

Forrest McDonald said...

Harper - the whole point is to com-pletely separate the two institutions. Marriages would be performed as part of religious institutions but would only have standing within the confines of a religion; they would confer NO legal benefits.

The state would license and perform civil unions, but they represent the ONLY legal couple contracts, and they would be available to ANY consenting couple.

In this way religions are free to decide who is eligible for their ceremonies but have no bearing on the legal issues of being a couple.