Get government out of the marriage business!

Before addressing the title of this post I’d like to give a little background on why I wrote this. The Republican Party, for many years, seems to have no concern for the trade or budget deficits, the health care crisis, the declining middle class, or even border security. The three main campaign platforms they use to rally their base are gun control, flag burning, and of course, gay marriage. Now people have said that they think I am homophobic – I tend to disagree and just think I am an enthusiastic heterosexual individual. What I do believe in is equal protection under the law for everyone, which is fundamental to our Constitution. So the question is – how can we extend marriage to everyone and get the conservative Christians to go along with it?

To start with, I think we need look at the current situation. Under the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, marriage is explicitly defined as a union of one man and one woman – federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage. This leaves it up to the states to define marriage, each in it’s own way. Since 2004 only the State of Massachusetts recognizes same-sex marriages, while nine states and the District of Columbia grant legal unions which allow for varying rights regarding same-sex couples. On the other hand, 26 states have constitutional amendments explicitly barring the recognition of same-sex marriages, and every election cycle sees new measures on state ballots trying to change these numbers both ways.

What a mess!

I guess same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are trapped in that state! To add to the confusion, some companies offer benefits to same-sex couples but most don’t offer anything at all. This does not reflect equal protection under the law! Why can’t we have a federal legal standard that allows all people to enter into marriage and enjoy these constitutional protections?

The answer, of course, is embodied in conservative Christians who think marriage is only for heterosexual people. So how do we fix this and attempt to limit opposition? This brings me back to the title of this post. I propose we get government out of the marriage business! How would this work you ask? First we pass a new federal law that only recognizes civil unions which would have the same protections as current legally defined marriages. This would assure legal standing for all couples in all states, effectively forcing all companies to deal with their employees equally.

Now that we have equal protection under the law for everyone, what about marriage? We simply give marriage back to the church. If a couple wants to be viewed as married, they would have to get blessings from their church. If a church does not think marriage applies to same-sex couples, then that couple would not receive a marriage license in that situation. If same-sex couples wish to be viewed as married, they would simply need to join a church that recognizes their situation.

I believe this would make it hard for conservative Christians to oppose gay marriage. Could they say other religions can’t sanction marriage for everyone? We would be using freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and equal protection under the law to solve this issue. So let’s just get government out of marriage once for all and end the debate on this.

I have never heard anyone take this angle on this issue and believe it is original thinking on my part, therefore, I felt I needed to write a post to take credit if this idea ever takes off. Does this idea have merit or is it unworkable? Looking forward to comments of criticism, approval, and rants regarding this post.


Posted on September 25, 2007, in Gay Rights, Politics, Religion, Social Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I have been making this same speech for a long time now! Government sanctioned marriage isn’t even real marriage! Ever since no-fault divorce, either party can leave the family unit without giving any reason whatsoever. That is definitely NOT marriage. Marriage, as a civil institution of stability and security for spouses and children, is no more. So, for those of us who really want to be truly married, we must do this within our own faith and within our own church. The only missing component are the legal questions that remain as far as inheritance, child custody, etc. These would (and should) be handled either through a contract written and signed by both parties or if there is a lack of such a document or it violates law, the legal union can be entered into. The cool thing here is that any two people can create and dissolve a legal union. The government should stay out of the religious part of the matter altogether.

    So, a typical Christian marriage might look something like this… Couple meets with their minister and states they wish to marry. Minister meets with couple a few times and perhaps even offers some counseling. This couple can now get married and all their friends and family can refer to them as husband and wife. Now, to handle all of the legal issues that might arise from marriage, the couple has decided to write their own contract and also has entered into a state-sanctioned legal union. Their own contract overrides the state legal union unless it violates state law.

    This same scenario would play out for a gay couple. There are plenty of churches willing to marry gay couples. They can receive equal protections under the law as well. They can also be part of a state-sanctioned legal union.

    Everyone wins because nobody is REQUIRED to recognize the religious ceremony or entity of marriage – only the legal contract or union. Quite frankly, it is nobody’s business how you were married, where you were married, etc. That’s a private religious choice that each of us can make.

    So, how ’bout it America? What’s wrong with this idea? I think it makes perfect sense.

  2. MJ "revoltingpawn"

    M. Sauer…

    Glad someone else out there who sees this the same way I do.. Thanks for the comment.

  3. How could you possibly justify that any religious group can determine who gets to jointly file heir tax returns?

    Get it straight. Marriage is not something that anyone gets to define It is an approved contract form which defines a whole set of legal rights and responsibilities.

  4. MJ "revoltingpawn"

    Pompano Pete…

    Did you even read my post or M. Sauer’s comment?

    Marriage would be defined by religious groups but would have nothing to do with legal or tax issues. Government would use civil unions to fill that void and be separate from “the marriage”.

    Please next time read the post before you comment.

  5. Pompano Pete,

    Only a conservative would come up with that response.

    [Wait, let me smell…]

    Yeah, it smells like you’re anti-gay marriage.

    By the way, what does the act of marriage have to do with my tax return? I know plenty of people who are married and file separately. I don’t see your point. Besides, who who want to file jointly and be subject to the marriage penalty anyway?

  1. Pingback: Couples » Get government out of the marriage business!

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