California Proposition 8 – Gay Marriage – What’s the Big Deal?

Today, Connecticut began offering gay marriages.

On the other hand, California is the state that is supposed to make new things happen, not the state that retreats from them.  California is now so backwards on this issue.  What’s the big deal with gay marriage anyway?

Before I continue, I think it’s vitally important to keep the following sentence in mind as you read the rest of this email.  This country is founded on “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state”.  Those ideals will be fundamental to how this issue plays out over the coming years.

Now, the church makes the argument that they don’t want to be required to marry two men in their place of worship, so they support CA Proposition 8 (definition of marriage as between a man and a woman).  It’s a false argument, because no one is asking them to do so.  Nor do I believe they are legally required to do so.

I understand that gay marriage is not accepted within the church, but there is an important fact that many people fail to see.  No one church has a monopoly on “marriage”.  Many religions do it: Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc.

And because of this fact, eventually, the right of same-sex couples to marry will become commonplace.  California may have passed Prop 8, but I strongly believe that it will be struck down as unconstitutional.

Here’s why.  There are two different meanings of “marriage”.  There’s the meaning within the realm of the government, and then there’s the meaning within the realm of a particular church.  That’s an important distinction.  You can get married in a church, but that doesn’t mean you’re married in the eyes of the state.  You still need to get a “license” from the state to be considered married.  And therein lies the nugget of the problem.  Eventually, within the context of government and state, same-sex marriage will be constitutional and commonplace.  Gay couples will have the same legal right to obtain a marriage “license” as heterosexual Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews.  That doesn’t mean they need to be married in a church, or that a church has to marry them.

The fact that Prop 8 has mandated the California constitution’s definition of marriage as “between man and woman” is no protection against gay-marriage.  To illustrate why, here’s an example.  If California had written into its constitution that Blacks have less rights, does that make it legal?  Of course not.  The US Supreme Court (and probably the CA Supreme Court) would strike it down as unconstitutional.  The same is true of gay marriage.

At this point, you may ask yourself: why is the issue of marriage even a constitutional question?  The answer: because of the fact that the State requires a marriage license to be considered married.  Eliminate that requirement, and you eliminate the whole question.  But unfortunately, you can’t eliminate the question, because the idea of marriage is too interwoven into our society’s fabric.  It determines too many “non-religious” things: taxes, rights to property, inheritance, etc.

There are lots of angles to the same-sex marriage issue.  However, the church should not feel so compelled to instill it’s beliefs on the whole of the society.  As I said before, this country is founded on “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state”.  And it is those principles that will inevitably see the equality of marriage as being available to both heterosexuals and homosexuals.  Anything less is discrimination.