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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Marriage

Marriage in the USA is a civil matter, not a religious one. For reasons of tradition, we empower religious officicants to enact marriages, but those marriages do not exist legally unless a marriage license is also issued. (Any one with multiple spouses knows this. For that matter, I know of Orthodox Jewish couples who chose not to have marriage licences. They are married halachically, but the state doesn't recognize it.) We also empower secular officials (judges, justices, county clerks) to do the same. There is no set ceremony (the Jewish ceremony does not resemble any Christian ceremony, for example - no vows are made, no kisses are exchanged.)

Because of this, and because no state can possibly require a religion to perform a marriage against its own tenets, I really don't see how any church or set of beliefs should have any bearing on who should or should not get married other than under their own auspices. I've said this before - Judaism, for example, forbids a marriage between a man and his ex-wife's sister (or his wife's sister, for that matter) in his ex-wife's lifetime. (Jacob married his wives before the Torah was given.) No Orthodox rabbi would perform this marriage. However, such a couple is and should be perfectly permitted to marry civilly. No synagogue has lost any tax-exempt status or been fined because of this.

If LDS or Orthodox Judaism or Catholicism or whoever do not want to perform gay marriages, this is their right and their privilege, and it would be wrong to require them to do so. But that has nothing to do with equality before the law. The right and penalities of marriage should be available to all consenting parties - anything else denies the equality of all adult Americans.

Comments

Well said!

Tough questions.

Aren't Jews supposed to encourage gentiles to follow the 7 laws of Noah? And doesn't one of the 7 laws forbid homosexual relationships? Does this mean that Jews should oppose civil same sex marriages? Why or why not?

Very tough questions.

I'm not sure of the answers.

I can say this - the civil laws of the US are not Noachide laws and we can't make them be.

You ought to see the look on people's faces when they start declaring to me about the sacredness of marriage and I ask them well then, what about my marriage?

The idea that atheists get married apparently has never occurred to some people. Or the idea that atheists have different ideas about sacredness. Or that if they're essentially blithering on about civil marriages infringing on the rights of their particular church, they are actually talking about all civil marriages, including heterosexual ones.

A lot of people are genuinely unable, I think, to separate out religious and civil marriage -- and so the idea of civil marriage being different from religious marriage and thus subject to different rules completely flummoxes them.

Sometimes I wonder if people think "they were married in a civil ceremony" means no one started a food fight.

The "threatening" part is what I don't get. My marriage isn't threatened by anyone *else's* marriage, no matter who it is.

An atheist couple? Okay. Whatever. A Hindu couple? Go for it, y'all. A Jewish couple? Many years to you both! A gay couple! Great! Good luck and where are you registered again?

I'm probably more threatened by the nasty cranky bitchy straight marriages I'm surrounded by. Listening to people complain about their spouses constantly is probably worse for the marriage rate in this country than every gay couple in existence getting hitched.

Gah. Civil ceremonies for all, and get your priest to bless it if you need to. That's what we did and we haven't gone down in flames.

Your classmate sounds lovely.

I have my religious beliefs. I just don't think they need to be everyone's.

You may find this NPR news story of interest:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91486340

I'm looking at that. I'm not sure what to think - in the first case,I'd be on the side of the Methodists if they said, "Only Methodist ceremonies permitted", and that could be proven. Even only Christian ones. But, on the other hand, if they refused to allow an African-American wedding (or a White/African-American wedding), there would be case.

IN this case, the couple aren't asking for the minister to do this, but if they really are against such a ceremony, it's probably in their rights.

The YU dorm thing bugs me, though.

On the other hand, if a photographer wants to refuse employment, that's his business. And if word spreads, he might lose more (or not.)

That was beautiful, MamaDeb.

Thank you.

I second that, Deb, that was beautiful.

And thank you to this thread discussion. I've been having polite but firm discussions about marriage in California and this has given me more to be polite and firm with.

And why couldn't are musclehead Governator come out against Prop 8 before the election instead of after it? Why?

So I guess we all get to work on this some more. It took 8 years to overturn Prop 22, I've no idea how long this will take. And I don't even want a gay marriage, I just know it's right that they're legal under the civil laws of CA. Oh well.

If only the people in charge had such common sense. I just don't understand why this is so hard for others to grasp.

That's how the law works in Canada, or at least, BC. Civil ceremonies without religious officiants are performed by civil marriage officiants called "marriage commissioners" (though most religious officiants are able to act for the civil component as well)and they are all that is required for your marriage to be legally recognized.

Our law does not require churches/temples/synagogues to perform same-sex marriages if it's against their tenets and beliefs. But all marriage commissioners must act for a couple regardless of orientation.

Some protested, and they were told they could no longer be commissioners, because they represent the civil authority, and that is separate from religion.

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