Marriage: Religious Practice or Social Contract?

Posted on March 27, 2013. Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , |

I’m pretty sure what I am about to say is going to anger some people.

English: United States Supreme Court building ...

United States Supreme Court, Washington D.C (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard arguments against California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage by amending the state’s constitution. Today, they are listening to arguments about the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The issue at hand is not whether or not the Supreme Court should allow gay people to get married, but whether or not the Federal government should be allowed to define marriage, or if should be left to the states.

With regards to the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court should overturn this without question.

The Federal government has no authority to define marriage. If one looks at the Constitution, DOMA is not “Necessary and Proper” to execute their powers enumerated within the Constitution.

One has to wonder, however, if the legal challenge is about equality, or about money and Federal benefits.

Marriage has been around longer than the bible, and a damn sight longer than Christianity. It was a way for society to acknowledge a sexual relationship between two people, and today, establish legal rights for the couple. It did not become a religious thing until monotheism was established.

These questions need to be answered:

  • Is marriage a natural right?
  • Can the federal government define what marriage is?
  • Can a State define what marriage is?
  • Is marriage a religious practice, or a social contract? Or possibly a hybrid of both?

In reality, the states became involved in marriage as way to raise revenue. They tax it. The First Amendment guarantees that we can practice religion as we see fit (as long as it doesn’t harm others). If a religion decides to recognize and marry same sex couples, it is not up to the state to say they can’t.

The Ninth Amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

What they are saying is that the Bill of Rights (and the Constitution) is not an exhaustive list of rights.

Do we have the right to marry whomever we choose? Is marriage a right at all? Certainly love must be a right, because it is something we can’t control.

The Tenth Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitution does not explicitly say or imply that the Federal government has the power to define marriage, therefore it is up to the states to define it.

So we now have a paradox. On the one hand, the government cannot interfere in religion, but the states can define marriage, because it is not an enumerated power for the Federal government, but not prohibited to the states.

Still, it has to be defined somehow, by someone.

In some states, marrying your cousin is illegal, while in others, it isn’t. There are minimum age limits, varying by state. Polygamy is against the law. You can’t marry an animal, although sex with them is legal in some states. That’s right, it is legal in some states to have sex with a horse. So why are we so hung up if two people of the same sex want to marry?

For some, it is religious principle. Marriage is a religious commitment before them and God. That’s fine, that works for them, but they seem to forget that theirs is not the only religion in town, and there are some folks, like me, who are not religious. We should not have to be forced to go to a church to get married, because marriage is only a religious experience if you are religious.

Then there is the separation of church and state arguments. Proponents of keeping religion out of government overlook that this means government needs to stay out of religion. I could bring up Obamacare again, but I won’t.

Whether gay people choose their lifestyle, or are born that way is it up to us to judge? To Christians, God views homosexuality as an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 (KJV)
 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall beupon them.

The bible says homosexuals should be killed. Yet a lot of Christians point to Islam and how they treat women and their own people. Today, we are learning that the gay people may be right when they say they were born that way. If they are born that way, and God created them, should they still be killed? They are not choosing to “lie” with one of the same sex any more than heterosexuals “lie” with the opposite sex. They are responding to their instincts.

To many of us, it isn’t that big of a deal, because we aren’t on the other side of the issue.

As I watched that HBO documentary American Winter, a man named TJ, of apparent Latin descent lost his job, but was hired on with another company. He was fired the day he started, saying the boss said he “should have listened to his other employees and not hired one of his kind.”

This was in Portland, Oregon, one of the great west coast liberal bastions. The man was hired, but said he was fired because of the color of his skin. It is easy enough to say that racism does not present the problem it did 50 or more years ago, but we don’t walk in the man’s shoes. We don’t experience it. Take a look at the recent experience of Forest Whitaker, who was falsely accused of shoplifting at a deli in New York. Look at the New York Police who practice “stop and frisk” tactics, mostly on blacks in the city.

People are concerned that the government is slowly stripping their rights away from them, and in many cases they are.

But what about the people who who are having rights withheld from them?

And if we extend rights to them, will this open the door to the polygamists and polyamorous people in the country?

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