Monday, October 20, 2008

It's Not Gays vs. God in Marriage Debate

When my partner and I got married about 6 years ago, we had a preacher preside over the ceremony and we invoked the name of God on many occasions, asking that our union be blessed by the Higher Power we both believe in.

As California moves to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriage, Karen Ocamb at Alternet notes that the argument is increasingly turning to the false dichotomy of "gays vs. God."

For the proponents of Prop. 8, however, the battle is "spiritual warfare," with religious freedom and the nation itself at stake if same-sex marriage is allowed to survive and spread beyond California's borders.

"If sexual freedom is the ultimate liberty, then you have to rewrite the Bill of Rights," Chuck Colson, founder of the Prison Fellowship Ministries, says on a Yes on Proposition 8 video produced by the American Family Association for distribution to pastors and Christian activists. "This vote on whether we stop the gay marriage juggernaut in California is the Armageddon. We lose this -- we're going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion."

First, "sexual freedom" is not what anyone is asking for in the right to marry. Sex is not the basis of my relationship with my partner and I doubt it's the basis of most heterosexual relationships. If the ability to have sex were taken away from us by illness or other tragedy, I would stay with my partner. We are together because we love one another and want to pursue a life together. We simply want that commitment recognized by the state and federal government so we can enjoy the more than 1,000 rights that married couples get like inheritance, health insurance, and Social Security benefits. Those are not really sexy topics – but they are all important in the security of our union.

Secondly, what about MY freedom of religion? I practice Christianity – a liberal form of Christianity that is most often the target of persecution by Colson and his cohorts. If I had a dime for every time I've been called a "false Christian" or a "heretic" by those who practice a more conservative form of Christianity, I wouldn't need the government to financially secure my relationship. I'd be a millionaire a million times over by now. Those who crow most about "freedom of religion" merely mean freedom for "their" religion – not the forms of religion they dislike.

Unfortunately, this spiritual fervor against same-sex marriage seems to be changing the opinion of those polled who are now showing a majority favoring this odious discrimination amendment.

Those who oppose this amendment need to be hammering home the fact that these are civil rights we're seeking – not religious rights. The religious question is not the other side of this issue any more than flat earth believers are the other side of the global warming issue. Allowing these people to place a religious frame around the issue is dangerous and must be stopped.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has the right argument that needs to be made loud and clear:

"I vow to vote No on Proposition 8 because I believe our civil society demands that we uphold -- not eliminate -- these fundamental rights. I believe all Californians deserve to be treated equally. And I believe that government exists to protect individual rights, not to undermine them," Villaraigosa said in a statement released by the Courage Campaign.

To that I say, "Amen!"


Anonymous said...

"government exists to protect individual rights" is not the Biblical overriding principle of government, and even if it was - how do you decide what those rights are? Again, as a Christian you would surely place the Bible above the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and look to it rather than them for your direction.

Your logic seems to be that you should be allowed to do whatever it is your religion allows/mandates. Using that logic, how would you justify outlawing minor theft from major organisations, bestiality where the animal appears not to object, or sex with a minor if they are compliant and seem fully aware? In each of those situations you could argue no-one is being hurt, and if my religion tells me I can do it then the state has no business stopping me.

Candace Chellew-Hodge said...

No, my logic would never wander into bestiality, theft or sex with a minor. As a Christian, in fact, doing any of those things never occurs to. I don't need a book to tell me it's wrong to steal or have sex with animals or children. I feel for anyone who does because they have deeper mental problems than allegiance to a religion, God, or a Bible can handle. I suggest professional help if you believe me loving my partner can give you license to screw animals and children and steal. You're the one with the problem, my friend. Anyone who equates love with larceny and sexual offenses has a truly deep problem. Please, get help.

John Meunier said...

Your point about the marriage as a contract that produces certain benefits from government and others is why I think religious organizations should stay out of debates over civil marriage laws.

A huge number of heterosexual weddings are made for the same reason - to secure a legal arrangement. They are secular contracts. And the church has little business in that.

Whether the church will celebrate, bless, or otherwise perform marraige ceremonies for some groups seems to me to be a different - but related - debate.

Theoretically, a Catholic church would not perform a marriage for a divorced man and his new bride-to-be, but the county clerk could do it.

The church has limited to no interest in who the clerk can declare to be married, and so should stay out of such arguments. It has bigger issues to deal with.