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.

SCOTT KIRWIN
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RP
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RP
4 years 4 months ago

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.

ragosta
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
RP
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RP
4 years 4 months ago

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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
“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… Read more »
The_Ohioan
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The_Ohioan
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
roro80
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago

“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
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merkin
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
RP
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RP
4 years 4 months ago

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
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davidpsummers
4 years 4 months ago

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
Guest
The_Ohioan
4 years 4 months ago

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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
“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… Read more »
davidpsummers
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davidpsummers
4 years 4 months ago

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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
roro80
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago

“children can’t be bound to contracts”

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

roro80
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago

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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
davidpsummers
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davidpsummers
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
davidpsummers
Guest
davidpsummers
4 years 4 months ago

“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
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
roro80
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roro80
4 years 4 months ago

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
Guest
roro80
4 years 4 months ago

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.

roro80
Guest
roro80
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
davidpsummers
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davidpsummers
4 years 4 months ago

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
Guest
johnny
4 years 4 months ago
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… Read more »
RossHoward
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RossHoward
4 years 4 months ago

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.

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