Marriage and the State: It’s Time For a Divorce

After a lifetime of fighting debilitating shyness and social anxiety I have found a life that permits me to avoid human contact except on the rare occasions when I initiate it. Modern technology is perfect for people like me. I can be social without actually being social, leaving me to focus on what people are doing or saying without worrying or thinking about myself. Facebook has become a useful tool to keep tabs on memes floating around groups one usually no longer associates with. Since most of my friends are leftists of various stripes I watch as they share posts that are supposed to change the world. Most of the time I let these slide without comment since I understand that they lack a blog like this one to share their political thoughts and so are limited to Facebook posts.

Sometimes I slip.

A very good friend of mine shared a post that read, “Like, if you are a supporter of same-sex marriage. Share if you aren’t afraid to admit it.”

As a libertarian I have been a consistent supporter of the so-called “gay agenda” for decades because I’ve been around gays most of my adult life and I simply don’t see how one can support small government yet demand that it poke it’s bureaucratic head into the bedroom. Honestly I want to see the government completely out of the marriage business, and leave the sacrament up to religions to administer as they see fit.

But is this really necessary?

Changing people’s minds requires more work than sharing political messages among friends on Facebook. If I opposed gay marriage it is highly unlikely a Facebook post would change my mind. In fact, sharing a photo or message does very little because it’s preaching to the choir: how many of one’s friends posting this entreaty really AREN’T supporters of same sex marriage?

On May 8th North Carolina is voting to amend the state constitution to ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and other types of domestic legal unions, specifying marriage as the sole legal union between a man and a woman. I think this is stupid on so many levels that it makes me spit. Not only does it discriminate against gays and lesbians, it discriminates against straight, non-religious people who are committed to each other but view marriage as a religious vow. So instead of sharing the photo, I’m going to drive 15 minutes to the polling station, wait in line for probably another 15-30 minutes, and cast my vote on this one issue AGAINST a stupid law. That’s an hour of my time I’d rather waste doing something else but instead I’m going to vote. Given the opposition to gay marriage in my community where Baptist churches outnumber gas stations and fast food restaurants, there’s a good chance my vote will be only one of a very few opposing the measure.

I am a secularist. It’s a word that’s often misunderstood and abused by the religious minded and those who hate them. A secularist is not anti-religion. He or she is someone who believes there is a line between the sacred and the profane, and on one side there is religion, and the other politics. A secularist cares just as much when a religion is forced by the state to obey a law that undermines its core beliefs, as when a religion attempts to force its beliefs on the state. A secularist believes that both entities have their spheres in modern life, and trouble comes when they rub together.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This has come to be interpreted as the separation of Church and State put forth by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 in which Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Secularists can trace this doctrine back even further, to Jesus Christ’s answer to the Pharisees seeking to entrap him. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” Matthew 22:15-22. This doctrine was later expanded upon by St. Augustine writing four centuries later noting the differences between an “earthly city” and the “City of God.” Martin Luther took St. Augustine’s ideas even further in his Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms which postulated that God worked his will through secular institutions as well as through divine acts. Luther also promoted secularism in his book “On Secular Authority,” writing that a government could not force spiritual beliefs on someone because such beliefs would be held insincerely and would therefore be invalid in God’s eyes. Luther’s ideas would then be picked up by John Calvin and other Protestant reformers, and later James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in the United States.

Even with a relatively clear and consistent philosophical lineage the United States has struggled with the concept of separation of Church and State almost since its inception. For the first hundred years of the Republic the First Amendment was viewed as applying specifically to the federal government; states were free establish official religions. Massachusetts supported Congregationalism until 1833. States continued supporting religion by enacting Blue Laws, abiding by religious holidays and providing other public concessions to religious groups. The Supreme Court finally began to weigh in on the issue, ruling in Reynolds v. United States (1878) that state laws prohibiting bigamy trumped religious laws (Mormonism in this case) that allowed it. It banned school prayer in public schools in its rulings in Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963). Since then the Supreme Court has delineated a distinct line between religion and secular society. Nevertheless that line continues to be defined by lawsuits challenging the legality of public religious displays and the wearing of religious head coverings on the job, and the rise of gay rights requires further definition.

Marriage has been a component of government since Ancient Greece when Solon wrote a series of laws covering all aspects of daily life including marriage. Since marriage between men and women resulted in children, and children were necessary for the continuation of the State, the State took an early interest in marriage, an interest that continued through the centuries to the present. For most of history, God and the State were one in the same, and the idea of separating the two made little sense. It wasn’t until the modern era that the concept of marriage without the State could be imagined, but even today in states across the country one must acquire a marriage license from the state and have a religious ceremony conducted to make the contract binding. There is no other civil agreement that requires a cleric’s signature.

From a civic standpoint, marriage makes sense. It legitimizes property ownership and distribution. It tames young men and lays the foundation for the means to support children. It pools wealth. Studies continue to show that children from an intact marriage do better in school, and that on average a pair of married people are wealthier than two singles. But these benefits to society will not go away if the state gets out of the marriage business.

America continues to be a country of the religious. According to a Pew 2007 study only 16% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. Marriage will not disappear. Instead it will fall under the complete control of religious authorities who can marry whomever they wish as they see fit. If a Protestant sect sanctions gay weddings, fine – but Baptists, Catholics and Muslims can forbid such vows without fear of persecution by the state. Separation of church and state cuts both ways, after all, and leaving marriage to the religions creates a barrier to prevent state meddling in religious beliefs.

What about the distribution of property? There’s already a document for that: a will. There are plenty of other existing legal documents that can be used to handle other situations usually covered in a blanket fashion by a marriage certificate like power of attorney and articles of incorporation. These documents can protect a pair (or more) of people regardless of sex, and treats them as equals before the law, something that existing law does not.

Disentangling marriage from the state and undoing 2,500 years of custom will not happen overnight, nor will sharing posts supporting the idea on Facebook change anything. But it is worth considering as the ultimate solution to the gay marriage issue and weakens the war on Christianity that gay marriage supporters unleash in response.

Cross-posted at The Razor.

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Author: SCOTT KIRWIN

  • RP

    Scott..I agree 100% with everything you have said. I already voted against this amendment, but I doubt that those voting against it will prevail as there are too many who believe the lies being told by PACS supporting the amendment. Lies about child support, domestic violence and other issues are playing on the fears of the undecided. Those with a closed minds already have decided. There seems to be too few Libertarians and liberal thinkers in NC to vote this down.

  • http://www.johnragosta.com ragosta

    All good points and returning marriage to its traditional place as a religious institution — not a civil institution — would solve a host of problems. (Blame the Puritans.)

    You might also note, however, that eighteenth century evangelicals were as committed as Jefferson and Madison to a separation of church and state, recognizing that mixing would corrupt both. See Wellspring of Liberty.

  • roro80

    I disagree with a lot of this article — not on principle, I guess, but in practice. For those of us in the 16% who are not religiously affiliated, yet who take our marriage vows very seriously, we don’t think marriage is religious. In the same way that one doesn’t need faith in God to have strong morals and values, one doesn’t need God to be married. I’m not worried that marriage will go away or cease to exist, I’m afraid that my marriage, or the type of marriage I have, will go away.

    Not to mention the fact that marriage still exists as a civil entity because of the easy blanket rights and responsibilities it entails. You say my husband and I could set up a will, a trust, right of attorney, etc etc, but that’s going to cost thousands of dollars. Instead, we got a marriage license that took care of that all in one fell swoop. Taking government out of the marriage business would immediately put out of reach the ease and affordability of all that marriage entails for those who cannot afford it or don’t know who to go to to set it up. One might argue that we could have a standard blanket package much like a marriage license to do this, but we already have that. We call it “marriage”.

  • http://therazor.org SCOTT KIRWIN

    roro80
    The problem with marriage is that it is so intertwined with religion I do not believe it is possible to separate it. I’ve set up two legal corporations, a 501(c)3 and a S-Corp, and both provided blanket benefits at minimal cost. A new civil document such as a “domestic incorporation” document could replace all the ones mentioned in the essay. Such a document could be entered into by any number of adults of various relationships and sexes, providing benefits to those currently locked out of marriage due to its limited, religious-based, scope. It would not be marriage, at least in the way we define it today.

    While I too am a member of the 16%, I recognize that we cannot as a society stretch the concept of marriage to include gays and lesbians while it remains tied to religious tradition and, by the fact that a marriage license must be signed by a cleric, religious authority.

  • RP

    Scott..Your last sentence is the problem. A marriage license. Why do we need a license to marry? Why not a document signed by a cleric, a justice of the peace or some other official given the authroity to sign a document stateing two people have taken the vows of marriage or a civil union and then have this recorded at the country in which this occurred? It seems like teh license goes back to the days when races could not mix and other issues required government approval before marriage could occur.

  • roro80

    “The problem with marriage is that it is so intertwined with religion I do not believe it is possible to separate it.”

    My husband and I haven’t had any trouble with separating it. Religious people don’t seem to have any problem accepting that we didn’t get married in a church. They think we’re going to hell of course, but they don’t deny that we were able to get married, and should have been. It’s all smoke and mirrors to keep gay people from being accepted — it’s straight-up bigotry, not some sort of religious sanctity of marriage, that’s keeping gay people from getting the right to marry.

    I just strongly think that the word marriage isn’t owned by God, and most people know this. To think that it always has been is to really misrepresent the history here. Marriage has had its equivalent in every culture since the beginning of culture, and it has meant something different in every one of those cultures. It has changed over time and continues to do so. In Western white culture, it used to be a contract between a man and his soon-to-be son-in-law over the transfer of property (daughter in exchange for other goods). It used to be forbidden between members of different races or religions. Clearly, we’re capable as a society of changing how we think about marriage. Once we, as a society, start thinking of gay people as nearly fully human, it’s not a far leap to think that these nearly-human others might want domestic happiness and love and stability, and from there, the leap to thinking of gay people as totally human and just as valid as straight people is not far behind. And, honestly, we’re not that far off from this as a society. We’re a lot closer to that than to rewriting enormous portions of state, local, and federal policy to accommodate the new social structure you want to put into place, and to obliterate the ones that exist and have existed for so long.

    Plus, what are you going to do with all the married people who don’t want the lives they’ve built together to be reduced to a 501(c)? Sorry, neither God nor you gets to claim my marriage and turn it into something it’s not. I have a feeling a lot of other people feel the same way. I know most of the gay folks who got married during the few months in California when it was legal feel the same way — they’ve got the legal paper saying they’re married, and damn it, they’re married.

  • The_Ohioan

    I guess I’m confused. Can’t a marriage license be signed by a Justice of the Peace, who can also perform the ceremony, and a cleric doesn’t enter the picture? It sounds like this eliminates that process as well as the “domestic incorporation” Scott mentions.

    Here’s the amendment:

    (A) Constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.

    This would seem to be a civil rights violation, as it would seem to ban any legal device which would protect the families of same-sex couples.

    roro has it right. Why should same-sex partners have to jump through hoops that other’s don’t?

  • roro80

    “It seems like teh license goes back to the days when races could not mix and other issues required government approval before marriage could occur.”

    Well, there are still certain people who cannot and should not marry. Like an adult and a child. Like a person who is already married. Like a person and an animal. Regulating these things is actually pretty important.

  • merkin

    Not too surprisingly I disagree. Completely.

    Ignoring whatever religion you follow, I think that we can agree, in fact we pretty much have to agree that the other religions are in some respects wrong.

    That the other religions, not the one true one each of us follows of course, was developed over the years as a way to answer the unanswerable questions. For example, where did we come from and where are we exactly? More importantly all of the other religions served as a way to pass down knowledge gained empirically, people die from eating week old shellfish in the middle of a hot desert, or it doesn’t seem to be a good idea when brothers and sisters marry, the children aren’t quite right, combined with a near certain way of enforcement, God commands that you don’t eat shellfish and don’t marry your brother. All of this was vital when one didn’t understood why these things were important, producing a kind of Darwinian evolution of religions, the ones that ate week old shellfish or intermarried didn’t stand the test of time and disappeared.

    But of course, we understand more and more the reasons why now. Now we know about bacteria and gene mutations. Now we are to the point that we understand so much more of the reasons why the world is as it is. Now those other religions actually cause problems, we know that some of the accumulated empirical knowledge is just wrong. For example, the men who can never marry in a society that allows some to have multiple wives seem to add instability to society and increases the threat of sexual assault which in turn results in the severe restriction of the dress and freedom of movement of women, in turn resulting in a reduction in their happiness and their usefulness to society.

    In many ways then religion is the problem, all the other religions, of course. And certainly in this case it seems that religion is the problem. There is no obvious rational reason to not allow single sex marriage. Marriage and family are the single most important stabilizing factor in society. We should be encouraging it.

    And we do, to the point that now in the US there are 1200 or so benefits and special considerations in the laws that favor married couples. You can’t expect that non-married couples can write contacts that cover these. Some are financial, giving tax breaks that are beyond the power of a couple to duplicate.

    And the most important point of all, the one that seems to be behind all of the religious themed restrictions that come up is that we are talking about restricting others. We are not forcing the religious to enter into a single sex marriage. It is they who want to restrict the freedom of others.

    Marriage is not just a religious institution, it is too important to society. There are concepts of marriage that are accepted by some religions that we know are harmful to society, ones that must be restricted. I mentioned two, incestuous ones and polygamy. There are others, marrying children is another obvious one.

  • RP

    roro80…Just like most people, anyone can find support for an issue that the government is involved in. How about using the existing laws that govern who can marry that are in existence today and apply that to any ceremony performed by those allowed to perform the ceremony. Why are we “licensed” to marry.

    For those that may be getting into the converstation late, here is a good example of born again christian religion and how it plays out in North Carolina.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTiBv99MYDk&feature=g-logo

    Enjoy.

  • davidpsummers

    Contract Law and Wills can cover all the essential elements of marriage. Tying benefits to children to marriage status is a poor way to go, since all this with children aren’t married and all those married don’t have children (instead, maybe we just tie them to the presence of children?)

    Government shouldn’t get caught up in attempt to use marriage to validate sets of beliefs (whether it is religious conservatives or gays).

  • The_Ohioan

    This amendment would also invalidate those civil unions or domestic partnerships of same-sex and heterosexual couples now in place in 3 NC cities, Durham, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill. For other ramifications:

    http://www.webcitation.org/677aL1PzS

    I would think this would not hold up to a Constitutional challenge.

  • roro80

    “Just like most people, anyone can find support for an issue that the government is involved in. How about using the existing laws that govern who can marry that are in existence today and apply that to any ceremony performed by those allowed to perform the ceremony. Why are we “licensed” to marry. ”

    What do you think the difference is, RP? You seem to have this idea in your head of how this should work that is exactly how it does work, but you don’t like it because of the word “license”. All that means is that you get it beforehand so that it can be submitted easily afterwards. Is it the fee you object to? I don’t understand your objection at all.

  • http://therazor.org SCOTT KIRWIN

    Well, there are still certain people who cannot and should not marry. Like an adult and a child. Like a person who is already married. Like a person and an animal. Regulating these things is actually pretty important.

    A few decades ago those certain people included mixed races. Today those “certain people” include gays at least around these parts of North Carolina. Your usage of the term rules out marriage involving children and animals. Instead of just kicking the can down the road by redefining “certain people,” or really, defining who can and cannot marry, let’s get rid of the term from the secular sphere completely.

    Children cannot enter into legally binding contracts, and neither can dogs. If I choose to set up a contract with my adult sister, so what?

    But what we are really talking about is sex, aren’t we? Pedophilia is illegal (and should remain so), and incest is as well in most states. Ditto bestiality.

    So I’m not sure what secular marriage brings to the table.

  • davidpsummers

    Well, there are still certain people who cannot and should not marry. Like an adult and a child. Like a person who is already married. Like a person and an animal. Regulating these things is actually pretty important.

    Well, children can’t be bound to contracts, so the ability to commit is already covered in having marriage be a contract. As to pedophilia, that is also already illegal, with or without government involvement in marriage.

  • roro80

    Scott and david –

    By all means please do look at the context in which I made that statement. Please? RP is arguing here, and has before, that the governmnent has no place in the marriage business, and that a particular local person should be the sole arbiter of who gets married and who doesn’t, plus church officials, and there should be no government involvement at all. He is specifically saying that this person should be able to decide who gets to marry and who does not.

    You don’t know me Scott, but I’m probably a more fierce advocate for gay marriage than you, and I’m probably more willing to talk about the dreaded sex than you are. If you think that adults wouldn’t marry children if given the legal ability to do so (their parents sure can sign contracts, can’t they?), then you are ignoring history since forever. If you don’t think the state has an interest in keeping people from marrying multiple people as generally practiced — that is, either just marrying someone new without telling the existing spouse, or as a way for a man to show his power and wealth in marrying multiple partners — then you continue to ignore very real abuses that exist. Do not pretend that you’re the only person who has ever heard of a successful and fully mutually happy triad, or think that I’m being some sort of prude for leaving them out. I said nothing about siblings at all. Real protections do need to exist, and this is one of the main ways your argument for “no government in marriage” falls apart. Lots of the laws are discriminatory here, and some of them actually do protect those they are meant to protect. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • roro80

    “children can’t be bound to contracts”

    They can’t sign contracts themselves. Their parents can, and they can be bound by them.

  • roro80

    Also — if you jumped to the conclusion that because a bunch of back-water bigots like to equate beastiality or pedophelia with being gay, that somehow that’s what I was doing, please notice that I didn’t include anyone from LGBTQIA categories in my list of people who shouldn’t be getting married. Consentual adults = good marriage. Non-consentual or non-adults = not ok. Sorry, but there’s pretty much nothing that could or should change my view on that. Hopefully most of you know me better than to think that anyway.

  • roro80

    Please also note that, again, my argument was against having one local person in charge of who gets married and who does not. The laws are in place to make sure that any couple that meets the requirements can be issued a marriage license. If a Catholic and a Jew want to get married, their respective churches can refuse to do so. The law makes sure that the county (the government) cannot refuse to allow them to marry. We all know that even these days a bigoted clerk would be able to refuse a license to two gay people if laws (in the states where it’s legal) weren’t in place, likewise with two people of different races.

  • http://therazor.org SCOTT KIRWIN

    roro80
    No need to hyperventilate. Your arguments are interesting to me. I’ve been challenged numerous times by the religious, but never before by a fellow secularist.

    Although I have gone along with the crowd and generally support gay marriage, in truth it would be easier and more legally defensible to get the state completely out of the marriage business.

    One of the most common arguments used by those opposed to gay marriage is the slippery slope. “If we let gays marry, then we will eventually have to let polygamists/bestialists (?)/ and what not.” It is a valid argument from their perspective, so they dig in their heels and fight every effort for gays to marry.
    After all, what is to stop bigamy once gay marriage is legalized? Do we legalize something after it becomes socially acceptable? So what is to stop bigamists from mounting the same campaign for rights the gays have done over the past few years?

    Removing marriage from the responsibility of the State defuses this argument.

    But the issue is actually broader than this. I’m not 100% sure but I believe that cohabitation without marriage is a significant percentage of the population, especially among those who have been married before. The discrimination they face is often drowned out by the gay marriage crowd (“Well you can get married but you choose not to,”) and told they are living in sin by the religious. Common law marriage is actually very rare today, so they are actually living in a dangerous legal limbo without realizing it. Gays know this: many straight people do not.

    No hospital is going to ask a woman for her marriage certificate when the man she claims to be the wife or partner of is on a ventilator. But technically they could, and if they were not married she would be barred from making important care decisions. Again, it’s unlikely to happen, but it is legal.

  • davidpsummers

    By all means please do look at the context in which I made that statement. Please? RP is arguing here, and has before, that the governmnent has no place in the marriage business, and that a particular local person should be the sole arbiter of who gets married and who doesn’t, plus church officials, and there should be no government involvement at all. He is specifically saying that this person should be able to decide who gets to marry and who does not.

    Well, reviewing RP’s comments he talks about “a cleric, a justice of the peace or some other official”. I guess I don’t see mixing religious and government authority as being any advantage. Just get government out of it and have people arrange their own union. People who believe in a religion will follow the dictates of that religion without government involvement and those who don’t believe should have to.

  • davidpsummers

    “children can’t be bound to contracts”

    They can’t sign contracts themselves. Their parents can, and they can be bound by them.

    I seriously doubt that parents can bind their children to anything like a marriage contract. Even if they could, it would be simply enough to outlaw without resorting to marriages requiring government bless. In fact, anything the government can ban by being in the marriage business it can ban even if it isn’t in the marriage business.

  • roro80

    Oy, please show me where I hyperventilated, Scott. I know I’m just a girl, but that doesn’t mean my arguments are illogical or over emotional. Not that being emotional about love and commitment is inappropriate anyway. I’m surprised that you’ve never come across the idea that marriage is actually a good thing without God getting in the middle of it.

    The reason that the argument “gays are like pedophiles and people shouldn’t have sex with kids” is wrong is because of the former part of the statement, not the latter. Of course. Marriage should absolutely be regulated, and in my opinion it should be regulated at the federal level so that couples can move from state to state without getting un-married. (Try driving from New York to Alabama as a trans couple and see how many different marital arrangements you go through.)

    And I strongly disagree it would be easier to dismantle and rebuild a thoroughly entrenched (and frankly, reasonably successful) institution that has consequences at every level of government than just kick the bigotry out of current laws. It really just takes a change on the form the state hands out to the counties. That’s it.

    If bigamists want to launch a campaign, I say go for it. It makes the logistics of things like taxes and insurance and divorce much more difficult, but as long as there’s a clear requirement of all partners to be equally consenting and adults, theoretically the logistics could be dealt with. Getting two people to get along well enough to be married is tough enough, and I’m sure it would be more difficult for 3, but I’ve seen it work.

    Really, it’s standard religious structures that shouldn’t be the requirement for marriage. That does not mean that marriage as an institution should be dismantled, which is basically what you’re suggesting. Again: what about all of us couples who are married and damn well intend to stay that way?

  • roro80

    David- again, we live in country with a long and ugly history of doing just that. We live in world where it till happens all the time. I don’t know why you think that would magically not happen if it were allowed. It’s really common particularly among certain cultures and religions, and we are a diverse country.

  • roro80

    Also, I don’t actually think that anyone really thinks people will start accepting pedophilia or beastiality if we as a society accept gays. I just think they’re bigots and fearful. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.

  • http://therazor.org SCOTT KIRWIN

    roror80
    You’re a girl? I had no idea. I imagined you as genderless, the way I do whenever I correspond with complete strangers on the Web. On this topic sex does not matter. Perhaps our genders would matter on another topic?

    So you’re saying that people who oppose gay marriage are “bigots and fearful.” The people who oppose gay marriage say people like you are waging a war against religion and trying to impose your beliefs on others.

    I live in rural North Carolina and most of the people in these parts oppose gay marriage. But they are good, decent people who are less bigoted than many so called “open minded” people I know who live in the suburbs and cities. How can you assume they are bigots and fearful when you can’t understand the issue from their perspective?

    Forcing the issue of gay marriage on people is a zero sum game. You will face resistance and resentment every step of the way, and I don’t think it’s good for either side. This amendment in NC is a perfect example of that, a backlash by the religious feeling under attack. There will be more such reactions, but to what end?

    I am not the first to propose the government needs to get out of the marriage business. It’s an anachronism from an earlier time that is doomed to extinction anyway as an increasing number of people forgo it by cohabiting. But it also takes away a point of contention between gays and the religious that damages both sides.

  • roro80

    Well Scott, considering the fact that you used a phrase typically used against women to dismiss their arguments as over-emotional, I’d say it was an appropriate response.

    Yes, I’m saying that those who think that straight people deserve rights that gay people don’t are bigoted and/or fearful. That doesn’t mean they can’t be good people with good qualities in other ways. I can understand the idea that people who are different are somehow scary and other and less deserving of rights, but that doesn’t make it right.

    No, you are not the first to propose this. I disagree with the others as well, if it makes you feel more warm and fuzzy? You may think of pairing up and legally making a family with the person you love as an “anachronism”, but for the roughly half of US citizens who are married, it actually feels like it’s extant right now. Cohabitation is great — my husband and I did it for many years — but eventually many people want the legal recognition of family status, and the ability to be treated as such, with right of inheretance, right of attorney, community property, joint custody of kids, etc.

    “Forcing the issue of gay marriage on people is a zero sum game.”

    It most certainly is not. Allowing gay people the same rights as straight people takes away something from straight people? Because some people think LGBT people are weird and icky? Attitudes are changing rapidly, Scott. Maybe not as rapidly in rural areas like where you live. But if a gay couple got married in your town, I promise that it wouldn’t cause a hole to open up and swallow all of your friends because of the massive power of teh gayness. Pinky swear.

  • davidpsummers

    roro80 says:
    May 3, 2012 at 12:25 am

    David- again, we live in country with a long and ugly history of doing just that. We live in world where it till happens all the time. I don’t know why you think that would magically not happen if it were allowed. It’s really common particularly among certain cultures and religions, and we are a diverse country.

    I’m not sure what “just that” is. But anything we have a long history of doing is something that current marriage laws haven’t prevented. I’m not sure why that would be an argument for keeping that system.

  • johnny

    A secularist cares just as much when a religion is forced by the state to obey a law that undermines its core beliefs

    .. You may reasonably disagree with Obamacare and think it’s unconstitutional for a number of reasons. But imposing on the religious isn’t one of them. Churches and other “centers of worship” are exempt. Period. That’s already a huge concession. However, a school or corporation that has a religious affiliation is not and should not be. Doing otherwise would clearly be giving religious organizations privilege over secular organizations.

    By your logic, a secularist would support giving churches the right to claim nonprofit status and openly support or oppose political candidates. You’d be wrong. A secularist would say either all nonprofits get to or no nonprofits get to; religion doesn’t get a special exception one way or the other. The same goes here. They’re asking for a special privilege, and refusing to give it to them is what a secularist would do. Whether a secularist would support the legislation in the first place can go either way.

    Still, you’re hardly a secularist if you think secularism means you think ultra-Orthodox Jews shouldn’t get away with sexual harassment and harassing children. Many conservative evangelical Christians who have no problem blurring the line between church and state probably believe that, too.

  • RossHoward

    This is not about personal nor religious values, it is not about same sex marriage nor common law marriage, it is about Corporate Greed. It is about Health insurance company Lobbyist doing all the can to protect and insure Corporate Profits.
    Vote No, on the North Carolina ban of same sex marriage not because you believe in homosexuality, but because you believe in individual rights and freedom, and because you do not believe in Corporate Personhood and Corporate Greed.