Thursday, March 28, 2013

An easy one about churches and gays

Within the span of a few minutes last night, I saw repeatedly what I guess is the latest talking point against gay marriage — the question of why government needs to be involved in the first place. After all, marriage is a God thing.

I'm glad they finally got around to asking that. But I don't think they're going to like the answer.

Marriage is more than just the covenant thing with God and whatnot. In a secular society, none of that matters. What matters is that two consenting adults enter into a contract that gives them significant legal rights over each other's affairs in specific circumstances. If that partnership dissolves, many things must be settled. This would be true whether or not government officially sanctioned marriage licenses, but this way at least there is redress. It may be a mess, but at least it's a mess with recourse.

The fact that the church's designation doesn't matter in a civil sense is, in fact, the best argument for gay marriage. Because, despite what critics bray, no one is forcing churches to marry gays. Within the confines of their own structures and their own beliefs, they can choose who they marry. And that's because, at least theoretically, we have separation of church and state. The state's job is to allow marriages between two consenting adults without regard for whatever dogma the church states — therefore, the state has no reason to honor discrimination against gays. Leave that to the churches. (But if those churches use public places or outside parties in the practice of discrimination, of course they deserve legal retribution.)

If anything, it's not "big government" to allow gay marriage; it's smaller government. Because as it stands now, churches who wish to marry gays (and yes, those exist) cannot make it legal. How's that for government meddling?

By insisting that marriage is a church thing and not a government issue, critics of gay marriage highlight exactly why governments should stay out of church affairs and vice versa. Thus, government shouldn't sanction what is entirely driven by religion. In this case, not letting gays marry.

Thanks, guys!

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