Sunday, May 17, 2015

No, Marriage Equality Does Not Threaten Your Religion

It is irritating to me that I feel as though I have to write this post, but I do so I am.

Here we go:

Marriage, historically, is not about religion.    Marriage has traditionally been about property -- a commercial exchange that had very little to do with religion, or love, or even sex and had a lot to do with dowries and bloodlines and power and politics.

If you are going to argue for "traditional" marriage? The tradition of marriage as a property exchange is far older than what you're referencing and -- so that you're aware -- is still how marriage works.

Wait, did you say no? Did you say that I am incorrect?

Then please allow me to submit to you:

The Prenuptial Agreement

The prenup is the best (but not the only) example of the fact that marriage is not a religious institution but a civil and legal one that is -- in many ways -- defined by an exchange and blending of property. If that were not the case, prenuptial agreements would not -- and could not -- exist. If marriage were simply a religious institution, no lawyers would be involved before, to discuss how property is to be protected and distributed in the chance that the marriage fails, and -- if marriage was only religious in nature -- lawyers and judges could not create divorce decrees. Only clergy could.

There are words for societies that let their religious beliefs dictate their laws and the rights of their citizens. There are names for policies designed to oppress groups of people because you think they're worth less than you are.

I hate to think that the United States would be willing to become such a place. I hate to think that it could become a place where something as simple as  -- writing a blog, say -- could be transgressive and threatening and potentially illegal.

Did you say no, no, that couldn't happen? That there is a separation of church and state, and there is freedom of speech?

There SHOULD be a separation of church and state, I agree. But if you start allowing religious beliefs to dictate the legal rights of citizens then you have also to agree that separation of church and state is a myth. Once you start down that path, it is a very short journey to a country ruled by religion -- and you'd better hope that religion is yours, I guess, because otherwise? You could lose a lot.

You could lose everything.

That's another lesson that history teaches.

If you think that I am arguing for a country in which churches are forced to perform marriage ceremonies that are against the code of conduct that their faith demands, however, you are wrong. Marriage is a legal institution. A wedding? Frequently is not. Churches and clergy can feel free to say, no, we won't perform that ceremony and they can do it for a variety of faith-based reasons. I have personal experience with this, as I was not allowed to get married in the church I attended all of my life, due to ... Um ... 

Well, probably the fact that I write stuff Iike this didn't help. 

When that happens? You make other plans because a wedding might be able to be a religious event but ... And here it comes again ... Marriage is always a legal one. As such, if a clergy person won't marry you, it is possible (and easy) to find someone designated as an agent of the law who will and BECAUSE marriage is not a religious institution, your marriage? VALID. Real. You are legally married with all of the rights and legal obligations that come with your newly wed status.

Marriage equality does not threaten your religion. Your religion will be just fine if two people of the same sex are legally allowed to marry. Unfortunately, a religious insistence on marriage inequality being written into law could have a damning impact on the future of this country, creating laws that legalize discrimination and intolerance. 

Who's threatening who?

No comments:

Post a Comment