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May 16, 2006

Family and Beliefs

Filed under: GLBT,Rights — Crisses @ 8:40 am

I don’t know what you, the reader, believe in. Right now, our nation struggles with a fundamental question regarding the “face” of what is an acceptable “American family.”

There is the Federal Marriage Amendment, being contemplated for addition into our Constitution. This amendment seeks to limit marriage and any rights resembling those of rights of marriage to couples who are male and female. In other words, it’s to dictate what states can say about marriage between gay couples — which specifies that they may not allow marriage and marital rights. It does away with domestic partnership rights, annuls marriages already consummated, strips many families of privileges they require and depend upon legally and medically.

Historically speaking, the document called the Constitution has been most successful in outlining our rights and freedoms. Whenever we have used it as a document to impose limitations on basic human rights, it has failed.

We also have kept it relatively free of judgement, free of religion. A miracle in a partisan country where one religion or a set of somewhat compatible religions have the power.

Marriage is already a messy “Chinese menu” of personal and private romantic and supportive commitments between individuals, a religious binding oath, and a contractual financial and legal arrangement. Not to mention a component that is a contract with the State, in return for which one gets certain legal and financial rights. Pick and choose any or all of the above for your marriage. To say two men, or two women, can’t make a personal and private romantic or supportive commitment would be absurd — that is something one can’t dictate and needs no contract or sanction and makes marriage a mere formality or a public announcement of the commitment. To say two men or two women — or indeed any number of individuals — can’t enter a contractual financial and legal arrangement is equally absurd and would burst every corporation or partnership in the country leaving us with many sole proprietorships, no clients, etc.

Whenever an argument opposing gay marriage comes about, I hear the protest coming from a religious standpoint, yet the contract of marriage requires no religious component. People can be married by court. Marriage by church is an option that persists for tradition and sentimental or religious reasons, but the two matters (legal or religious marriage) can easily be separated from one another.

Yet most opponents to gay marriage insist on quoting quotes from various interpretations of one religious compendium called the Bible. Someone passed around a counter-quote, “When you take an oath in court, you swear on the Bible to uphold the Constitution” not vice-versa. We are not a nation to uphold the Bible. There are no precedents outlining which religious source we are basing the Constitution on because the Constitution was written with the express intention of separating the impositions of religion from the governance of a nation. Our forefathers had the wisdom, the resentment, the foresight, and the first-hand-experience to know that no one religion was going to get it right, and that individual political freedoms could not be dictated by religious mores.

I am not Christian, or Jewish. I’m not Muslim, nor am I Buddhist. Yet religion surrounds me, infuses me, draws me, defines me, limits me, and expands me. My religion doesn’t have any creeds whatsoever limiting lifetime unions to only man and woman. If your religion says it’s not ok to marry the same sex, then marry only the opposite sex (or change religions), but do not limit my Constitutional freedom to practice my right to personal private commitments, enter into contractual arrangements, to celebrate the religious oaths I may choose to enter into with any gender, or to enter into a legal and financial agreement with my state. Certainly do not try to limit my religious freedoms from within a document sworn to protect them. Your state may not honor my agreements, but the Constitution is not allowed to limit them.

[tags]religion, marriage, queer, freedom, Constitution, family, legal, activism[/tags]

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