Religious marriage is not civil marriage

The Constitution requires separation of Church and State. Until we distinguish between the religious sacrament of marriage, which the State has no place regulating or even recognizing, and the social contract of marriage, which the State has every right to regulate, this issue will never be resolved.

Any religion has the right to not allow certain people to marry within its ceremonies. But that does not allow them to say that their beliefs must be imposed upon the civil marriage ceremony recognized by the state. Civil and religious marriage are entirely different institutions.


  1. You overlook the fact that gays and lesbians are not satisfied with the “civil union” which is essentially state-endorsed marriage. Many evangelicals would tolerate (thogh not endorse) state-sponsored civil unions. Why are gays and lesbians unsatisfied with that arrangement?

    It’s because they want more than tolerance. They want approval.

  2. Everyone is fighting over ownership of an ambiguous word: “marriage.” It means two things, and both sides want to claim it.

    Maybe we need to jettison the word altogether and call the two institutions “Sacramental union” and “Civil union.” That’d sure make it clear that the government has no business legislating (or guaranteeing the right to) the former and every right to legislate the latter!

  3. @Michael:
    You’re wrong. The reason homosexuals aren’t happy with civil unions is because it’s not the same as marriage. Not all states or companies provide health coverage to civil partners, but almost all do for married couples. MOST states don’t recognize civil unions done in other states, but almost all marriages are recognized across state boundaries. Civil partners don’t automatically get parental rights for their mates children like married couples do, and most states forbid cross-adoption by civil partners (including Florida now). Civil partners can’t file joint returns for tax purposes, married couples can. The list goes on an on.

    The problem is there are thousands of laws; federal, state, county, and local, that use the word “married” or a conjugation there of to bestow rights and privileges on straight couples who need only pay $50 to get a slip of paper they refuse to sell to homosexual couples. And there’s no way to change all those laws in all those places in one act. There IS a way to allow gay couples access to all those laws at once: A federal level legalization of gay marriage, using the term already in place in all those laws.

    One big question for you Michael:

    What about churches that WANT to recognize gay marriages? Unitarian churches marry gay couples now in religious ceremonies, but can’t bestow their full blessing on gay couples like they can for straight couples “by the power vested by God and the state of [insert state]”. Just because the Evangelicals want to ban it, does that mean the Unitarians can’t do it? Who decides which religious faction gets to mandate it’s rules over other religious groups via the law?

    Want to try a fun exercise? Take any of the “propositions” just passed and replace “homosexual” with “bi-racial”, or insert “same raced” before the words “man” and “woman”. You’ll get the exact same laws that were being passed in the 50 and 60s against inter-racial marriages. And just like then, having each state decide one at a time if such a marriage is legal or not is not acceptable.

    I’m sure if you had to check the local laws every time you wanted to go on vacation to see what, if any, of your rights as a husband, or father, or couple were, you’d be pretty pissed off too. If my kids get hurt in Florida, will I be allowed to make decisions about their health care? Will they be covered under my insurance, they’re my wife’s kids… Hmm… Maybe we won’t go to Disney after all… How about Niagara Falls this year? 😛

  4. It isn’t about marriage. It isn’t about gays or divorce or birth control.

    It’s about no one has the right to impose their moral strictures upon me, no one has the right to tell me what to do. That’s the bottom line.

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