Monday, March 14, 2005

COM: California's marriage stance

I got involved in a conversation about gay marriage after the California reversal. The conversation was mostly about whether this would respark major interest (and conflict) in an amendment to ban gay marriage (which would be the first time hatred would be written into a document that otherwise frees people).

So far comment has not materialized from the GOP or the White House (although the losing parties to the suit have spoken out). I think the issue may be off the radar because of a simple conundrum. And i think word has quietly spread among opponent groups that perhaps they better lie quietly so as to avoid something poetntially more disastrous than losing in a few heathen west coast courts.

My post here is not to rehash the same arguments (which i think have been done to death), but to make a note of this ‘something’ that i have not seen addressed elsewhere (though it probably has and i just missed it in the blogarithmically expanding net universe).

When George Bush first made his stand he referred to marriage as a sacred institution a couple of times. Within about 48 hours though he had changed his assessment to “traditional” institution. I’m sure a number of folks noticed this, but i’d guess at least some may have thought this happened only at the prodding of PR wranglers eager to avoid making it a separation issue.

I have always thought different.

While the argument is already out there that marriage is a church issue and should be left there, i have a gut feeling that the hardcore fundamentalist-leaning denominations (and offshoots) have figured out that their “best” interests on this one lie in federal oversight. You won’t see them wanting to be free of regulation on this.

Here it is. If, as i believe, the federal and state governments should not be in the business of regulating marriage in the traditional, historical, biblical sense (although they do at least have a fundamental interest in at least registering unions for various contract purposes [division of property, medico-legal reasons, guardianship, etc.]), then the actual function of performing/blessing marriages belongs nowhere else but in the church.

If then governments get out of the marriage business and restrict themselves to registration of self-chosen partnerships then the writing on the wall says unions between gays cannot be restricted (barring an anti-gay union amendment as well; but that would be contrary to almost everyone’s [outside of certain evangelists] publicly declared [backhanded perhaps] mitigations for banning gay marriage). Welcome back flip-flop politics?

Well then, marriage would be solely a function of the church (generically) with no legal restrictions. And voila, you know as well as i do that a number of churches will gladly be performing gay marriages, including some rogue congregations of mainstream churches. Then, regardless of whether they would be recognized by the state as civil unions, you suddenly have the very kind of real marriage for gays that the churches are so opposed to. And “good faith and credit” is moot.

So, the only way for a tyranny of the majority to prevail in this case would be through assigning this particularly religious function to the government. While churches regard it as a sacred birthright to bless unions, they largely don’t want to trust themselves to do so knowing that some churches actually believe in inclusiveness, and love for everyone, just like that guy, what was his name . . .Jesus . . . would do.

I don’t believe you’ll see various religious commentators playing the obvious self-defeating card on this one – at least i haven’t yet. And that is why.

With props to Scott Davis for taking on this difficult issue as well at Gimme Some Truth


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