Saturday, December 07, 2013

Redefining Nothing

Piers Morgan had Rick Warren on last night and I watched for a few minutes, which is all I could take. Warren is an arrogant and insufferable jackass, and I cannot see him without thinking of the humiliating and unconstitutional religious interrogation to which he subjected the presidential candidates in 2008.

Anyway, Piers asked Warren why he opposed the right of gays to marry and Warren responded that he opposed the redefinition of the word “marriage,” with the same old bullshit about it having been defined for centuries as being between one man and one woman. He did not, of course, say where it has been so defined, which is the point and is why this is the silliest and most inane political argument in the history of governance.

I was married twice, both times on one day and to the same person. Most married people have had the same experience. We were married in a church by a priest, and at the end of that ceremony we were man and wife under the laws of the church but not under the laws of the state of California. We did not have common property at that point, we could not sign documents for each other, we could not file a joint tax return, I could not be on her health insurance

Then the priest said we needed to go into an office and sign some papers, after which we were married under the laws of the state of California. After that second ceremony we had common property; everything that had been mine was ours and everything that had been hers was ours. We could sign documents for each other, we could file a joint tax return, and I could now be on her health insurance. None of these things were so after the first marriage, they became so after the second marriage.

The English language is full of words which are spelled the same, pronounced the same, and which mean different things. A “ball” can be a round thing which you throw, or it can be a type of dance party. A “bore” can be an uninteresting person, or it can be the part of a rifle through which the bullet travels. Marriage is such a word; it refers to a spiritual union performed in a religious setting, and to a social contract which conveys legal rights and obligations.

When we talk about changing the law to permit gay marriage, we are talking about the second marriage, and not the first one. If legal marriage is changed Rick Warren will still be free to define marriage in his church any way his tiny, bigoted little heart wants to do so. Under the law, however, people of the same sex will be able to enter into a social contract which gives them the same rights of partnership as anyone else.

What part of this is so hard to understand? Right now the Catholic church will not marry anyone who has been divorced, so no on can have the illusion that any law compels any church to recognize any specific person as valid candidates for marriage. The law does not compel the Catholic church to marry divorced people, and it would not compel any church to marry same sex couples. That has been made crystal clear, so what is with all of this “redefining marriage” crap?

Why are not divorced people marching in the streets for the right to marry? Because they can marry. They just can’t do so in a Catholic church. So divorced people leave the Catholic church in order to get married, but that’s a problem for the Catholic church, not for us.

It isn’t about redefining anything. It’s a question about whether or not gay people should have access to the same social contract as straight people. That’s an easy question, with a simple answer.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're splitting hairs about you being married twice in two ceremonies. (In my experience) They happen simultaneously, so are indistinguishable from each other. I was married to two women, in three ceremonies, in each of which the paper signing takes place during the religious ceremony, and there were lots of witnesses.

    Having said that, I know what your point is, that the religious and civil parts can be separate and are not necessarily equal. They just happen simultaneously (if you're having a religious ceremony, in a judges office obviously you don't).

    I won't comment on the practices of any church. I feel free to interpret that through the prism of my experiences. And to worship thusly as well.