Equality: Delink marriage, equal rights

The state should not be involved in regulating religious choice. And religious ooga-booga cannot be permitted to harm civil society.
Those in power will call it tolerance, they will call it pluralism, but in truth same-sex marriage is a government takeover of an institution the government did not make, cannot in justice redefine, and ought to respect and protect as essential to the common good. -- Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage on the ruling overturning Prop 8.
The singular stupidity of this quote beggars comment, but Gallagher is right about one thing: marriage is not an ideal arena for government action.

Equal protection under the law, however, is.

How about requiring all citizens who wish to establish domestic partnerships that address such issues as property rights, inheritance, spousal benefits, responsibility for children, taxation, etc. -- "married" or not -- to be licensed by or registered with civil authorities, with equal rights granted and obligations required under the law? The quasi-religious question of "marriage" could then be left to churches, mosques, synagogues, witches covens, Vegas chapels and any other outfits that take an interest in the management of human souls. That way religious organizations would be free to do their worst to their own adherents, by imposing on "marriage" whatever limitations they believe to be required by the particular gospel they -- you should pardon the expression -- espouse, without causing undue harm to the rest of society.

Freedom of religion, freedom from religion: as the 1st Amendment to the Constitution has it, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Meddling with "marriage" does both. Let religion have the word; the state can and should uphold and protect the underlying values.

For a summary of the history and legal reasoning underlying Judge Walker's decision invalidating Prop 8: The Prop 8 Decision: The Findings of Fact (Everything We Should Learn From This Trial) by Zack Ford (ZackFord Blogs 2010-08-04).


Anonymous said...

Don't you think people should be able to get married if they want? You want to let the bigots win.

John Gabree said...

I think you missed my point. I think everyone who wants to get married should. But marriage as a ceremony is a quasi-religious exercise. Everyone should be treated equally under the law. What about couples, straight or gay, who want to make a commitment to each other but are disinterested in marriage. Should they be required to marry in order to achieve equity with others? Civil partnership should be the norm for all citizens. If you want to get duded up and partake in some ritual or the other, go for it. But doing so shouldn't afford you any privileges over other members of the community.

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