Thursday, November 6, 2008

Propostion 8 Passes in California

California has passed Proposition 8, which yet again repudiates same-sex marriage, returning it to a legally unrecognized status. Religious conservatives, who supported Prop 8, made much of the idea of "preserving the 'sanctity' of marriage".

But they're wrong. It wasn't the "sanctity" of marriage that was up for a vote; it was the legality of it.

The idea of sanctity has a religious base, thus is not subject to any law in a country that has the separation of church and state. It is a highly personal and private thing and properly is defined by whatever religious, ethical, or personal tradition one may believe in. It has never been the business of the government, nor should it ever be.

The legality of marriage, on the other hand, has nothing to do with religion in our country and never has. This is shown by the fact that getting married by a judge, a justice of the peace, or other non-clergy member is legal, where a wedding performed in a church or other house of worship without a civil marriage license is not a legal marriage, though it is a religious one.

Legal marriage has to do with practical benefits bestowed by the government, period. It doesn't concern itself with the emotional aspects of marriage or anyone's idea of sanctity. That's a wholly personal matter, up to those involved and whatever ethical beliefs they have to provide privately.

Even the Bible says to render unto Caesar (government) what is Caesar's, and to render unto God what is God's. Legalizing same-sex marriage, then, is "rendering unto Caesar", and has no effect on "what is God's".

Legal same-sex marriage will not affect religious marriage in any way. Houses of worship will be free to offer or deny religious weddings to same sex partners as they always have, as it will not affect their legal rights to be married in any way.

It just boggles my mind that such a basic right was put to the population to vote on, where people are likely to vote against the right to same sex marriage based on religious beliefs, that they think it's "icky", and other reasons that are properly considered to be legally irrelevant. Interracial marriage, for example, was finally legalized in all fifty states by a Supreme Court decision, and was never subject to voting from the general population. If it had, I'm guessing it would still not be legal in all fifty states.

And though I would vote in favor of same sex marriage (and did two years ago, unsuccessfully), I personally believe it's none of my business. I do not think it's my place to decide on the basic civil rights of fellow citizens, as same sex marriage does not affect my rights or my life any way, positively or negatively, Those who voted "yes" to Prop 8 based on religious reasons have effectively imposed their religious beliefs on the rights of others, which violates the separation of church and state in my opinion.

If it were up to me, I'd just abolish legal marriage altogether for everyone, as I don't think it's the government's place to define, legislate, or promote any form of private, personal relationship between consenting adults. As a non-monogamous heterosexual, I strongly believe this.

The practical rights and benefits that currently come with marriage could be granted under Domestic Partnerships that would focus wholly on such practical benefits that come with sharing a household on a long-term basis, and would be granted without regard to the nature of the personal relationship of those involved, sexual or non-sexual. That would be private, as it should be. Marriage would then be defined by those involved and optionally by whatever faith, personal, or ethical tradition those involved might have and would be unrelated and irrelevant to whatever legal benefits one would have as a Domestic Partner.


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