Sunday, March 17, 2013

"It's What I Believe"

John Boehner says that legalizing marriage between two people of the same gender is never going to be on his horizon. “Listen,” he says, “I believe marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what believe, it’s what my church teaches me and I can’t imagine that position would ever change.” (emphasis mine)

Well, good for him, but what the hell does what his church teaches him have to do with what should be the law of this land? What part of the constitution does he not understand? Well, okay, bad question; there are obviously large chunks of the constitution that he does not understand.

Admittedly, the constitution’s first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” which can be interpreted several ways but does not clearly say that religious principles cannot be applied as legal principles. It does, however, then go on to say that Congress shall make no laws “prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” which does clearly say that.

If Boehner uses the fact that his church teaches him that marriage is defined a certain way as a reason to make the law define it the same way, then he is restricting the ability of other churches to define marriage in their own way. He is passing a law that “prohibits the free exercise” of religion, because he has imposed his religious definition of marriage into law. If some other church wants to define marriage as including same sex couples, the law is interfering with their freedom to do so. No, it is not prohibiting them from performing that religious ceremony, but it is refusing to recognize that action and in so doing is discriminating.

So the reason that John Boehner gives to justify his stance on marriage, “it’s what my church teaches me,” is actually the best argument against his stance on the form that marriage should be.

And before you argue that a law allowing same sex marriage imposes upon religious bodies something which they oppose, think again. Current law allows divorced persons to remarry, but the Roman Catholic church refuses to countenance that practice and does not marry anyone who has previously been married unless that marriage has been annulled. So, while the law allows divorced persons to remarry, it does not force the Roman Catholic church to do so. In the same manner, a law would permit same sex marriage, but would allow churches to continue to define marriage in any manner they wish.


  1. So basically you're saying that secular marriage law should be gender neutral, whereas religious institutions can define it any way they want to. And that any religious definition should not enter into secular law.

    So a gay Catholic couple would go to the courthouse and have a judge marry them and go to church and be damned by their tenets? Well, okay maybe not... but they would not be a "married" couple, nor would a Catholic priest marry them.

    Even if their union was officiated by a licenced priest /minister of a denomination that did recognize gay marriage, the Catholics would not recognize it as being legal under canon law. And there are other denominations that wouldn't either.

    I wonder sometimes if the religious provisos of the Constitution are not interpreted overly broad at times. For example, the Catholic refusal to allow birth control as part of health insurance mandated by Obamacare. I can maybe see that for those that take direct part in religious activities, like priest and nuns. But a secretary or janitor in a catholic hospital? That's stretching it...

    Here's a novel concept: Include it as part of a secular law and allow people to OPT OUT OF ACTUALLY USING IT. Duh..

    I can think of other religious examples, but we don't want to give Jayhawk apoplexy.

  2. I think it was Kinky Friedman who said that "gay people should have the right to be miserable like the rest of us."