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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gay Marriage

I've thought long and hard on this subject. It's one fraught with a lot of emotion and it is loaded with religious overtones.

I'm a Christian. I'm a member of a somewhat liberal Lutheran Church, but many of us in the congregation are veterans and conservative ones to boot.

I'm also straight and married. Mrs. VW happens to be the sweetest woman God ever put on this earth and why I got so fortunate to be the one married to her is beyond my ken.

All that said, here are my thoughts on the matter.

Marriage was long ago hijacked by the state. The ceremony might take place in some form of house of worship and the person officiating might be a cleric of some kind, but all he or she does is stand in for a judge. You had to buy the license (obtain state permission) and your preacher/priest/rabbi/coven leader had to register in some way with the the state or local government in order to perform the marriage. (There may be a few places that require them to pay a small fee as well, I don't know).

In the eyes of the state, your marriage is actually a civil union. To the Bureaucrats, a mayor or a judge is no different than an ordained minister.

So in essence, if a homosexual couple wants to marry, I don't particularly care. As long as it is a state licensed activity, it needs to be available to all.

Here is how I think it should be done. If you want to marry someone, you go buy your license according to established laws. After the waiting period (if applicable), you return to the clerk who signs it and then the clerk gives you a copy. You are now civilly united. If you want your marriage to have a ceremony of some sort or want it sanctified by whatever faith and they agree, then have at it. That part would be voluntary and up to you.

Regardless of the second part being voluntary, someone will try and force, by judicial fiat, a church that does not recognize gay marriage to officiate in the religious part of the ceremony. That would be wrong. Many churches and denominations say that homosexual acts are a sin. That is their right under the first amendment and so it should remain. There are some churches that don't see it that way and that is also their right. If a minister wants to perform a religious ceremony for homosexuals and their denomination agrees, then by all means perform the ceremony.

The first amendment means what it means, even if someone doesn't like it.



Stephanie Frieze said...

I don't see a problem with your idea, VW. Clergy can already refuse to marry couples because one is not of that faith, etc. Protecting people legally and recognizing families of all sorts is the point.

Recently on NPR they interviewed some Black Muslims that practice poligamy so it is not just a FLDS phenomenon. Would this fit into your notion of civil union?

VW said...

We've been through the polygamy discussion already. :)

Unfortunately, there will be some who want to push the envelope and want a ceremony performed by someone who won't perform it because of their beliefs. It will be pushed, regardless of how the laws finally end up being written.


Stephanie Frieze said...

I'm talking about the legal civil union, not the religious. I believe that any member of the clergy can refuse to marry people based on religious beliefs. I don't see that as being an impediment. When my husband and I married I wanted to have a really cool Catholic priest do the honors, but since neither of us are of that persuasion he couldn't. Simple. I doubt if a wouldbe polygamist is going to seek a say Catholic or Lutheran wedding. Civil Unions ought to be for whatever consenting aults care to be involved.

VW said...

I understand and there will be those who push it. One hopes the courts will tell them to just go where they are welcome and be done with it, but somehow, me thinks that is a pipe dream.


Kim Thompson said...

But isn't "pushing" a right everyone has, too? Don't we have the right to fight for what we believe in?

I see what everyone is saying, but yeah, there are going to be the folks that push the envelope. And some not. And in this country, I think, that's all okay.

Hope that makes sense?

Stephanie Frieze said...

I agree with you, Kim. Americans have a history of pushing the envelope, for good or ill, all the way across the country, but the likelihood of someone demanding a wedding performed by a clergic who had religious reasons for declining are slim.

liebana1 said...

I am pleased to see that someone sees the light in that all weddings are civil unions; this has been my observation since childhood when my father, a minister, would take me with him to file marriage licenses after performing weddings in our home. In fact, when I was old enough, I was a signed witness to many of thse ceremonies apart from the church.

jrbj said...

I sort of agree with you VW. To me the hubbub over gay marriage and civil unions is apples and oranges. A union, between anyone, is nothing more than a legal contract, it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Since gays and lesbians are citizens too, they are entitled to enter into any legal contract that anyone else can enter into. Marriage, on the other hand, is a religious contract between two people and, allegedly, God and it is officiated over by some kind of religious authority. Churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. are not in the public domain and they do not have to accept social ideas that are anathema to them. So a religious organization can rightfully reject gay marriage if that is what their theology mandates. Civil unions, then, have to do with law and marriages have to do with religious beliefs. One is apples and the other is oranges and if you try to mix both of them into one bag you wind up with terrible tasting apple sauce.

Lorraine Hart said...

Wow! All of you just made my day! What a great...and respectful discussion!

Being an ordained minister, I look forward to being able to celebrate spiritual same-sex marriages of love, along with the same civil-union rights that heterosexual couples are given. All of us who officiate the ceremonies of life and death know the civil and legal paperwork is what matters to the government. The spirit, heart and connection to a Creator and Creation (a personal vision) also matter to a great many people, straight or gay. Everyone's personal needs should be long as they don't harm anyone else in the meeting.

It's about love and commitment...and, when I interview and counsel couples who wish to be married, that is the judgement I use to decide whether I will or won't facilitate. Why would someone want an officiant, on their most important day, who does not agree and does not want to take part?

The problem I have with polygamous marriages...and the reason I would refuse (unless shown otherwise) is the inequality in the patriarchal set-up...and would have the same feelings were it a matriarchal set-up. Being the product of an unequal and abusive partnership, I am an advocate for equal partnerships based on honour, respect, humility and love.

One of the reasons I love the idea of this country IS because of the "pushing of the envelope" long as there's reasoning behind the push and not just pushing to show muscle.

Great post vhuwhu!

Stephanie Frieze said...

You make my point, Lorraine, with your excellent comment! You have the right to refuse to marry anyone whom you feel is for whatever reason not entering a healthy relationship.

Thanks for starting the discussion, VW!

Brent said...

I'm gay, and I can say I've literally never heard anyone say they want to force churches to perform weddings that they don't want to perform. I mean, who wants to be a part of a church that doesn't want you? I'm not saying that no gay person would ever start a suit like this (there IS a lot of hostility toward some churches among some gay people, understandable, IMHO, given what some churches have said and done to us, and how they've tried to make civil laws conform to the laws of the particular religion and argue that our tax dollars should be used to discriminate against us). But frankly, I think they'd have hard time even finding a lawyer to take on a case like this. The point is, gay people are Americans too, and the vast, VAST majority of us understand and strongly support the first amendment. I think the argument that "gay people are going to force your church to do this!" is something a boogey man argument, with not much of a basis in truth.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I agree with Brent. VW's proposal that the legal union be open to everyone and leave the religious rite to the clerics is on target. No one else's marriage impinges on mine and happy, loving, stable relationships secure in their rights as couples make for a better community and nation.

VW said...

Let me just say that I know of no one who would initiate such a suit. I'm going on past history where it seems that there is always someone wanting to push too far.

I agree that it makes no sense to try and start a momentous and happy occasion off by trying to create a bit of havoc.

And Brent state, there is some hostility out there.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think I could (if I was a someone with that authority) marry a gay couple in a religious ceremony. Some of you will vehemently disagree with me on that, but that's the way I feel about it.

On the other hand, who am I to deny anyone legal rights offered to other people?


Lorraine Hart said...

The one thing I've never understood about religions that profess to hold Christ's teaching at the very that Christ never rejected anyone. In fact, every single religion states the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

No, I don't believe there will be any storming of the cathedrals...Brent is right about pushing the buttons to fear a non-existent boogey man. There are plenty of us who walk in the service of Love...and will be happy to officiate marriages of loving, equal partners...period.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Amen, Lorraine.