Guest Blogger

The Abomination of Government Marriage

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 01, 2008 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Allison Bricker, Arizona, Brown v. Board of Education, California, Florida, marriage equality, Plessy v. Ferguson, religion

Editor's Note: Allison Bricker is a lifelong political junkie. She has worked in various capacities on several local, statewide, and Congressional campaigns. She currently works as a Senior Political Analyst at a public opinion/research and analysis firm based out of Indianapolis . She along with her partner is the Publisher/Editor of the blog "The Smoking Argus Daily". Her philosophy is rooted and most influenced by authors from the Age of Enlightenment such as, Thomas Paine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and John Locke.

alli_07_2008.jpgWith Election Day only one week away, voters in 3 states - Florida, California, and Arizona - will again be voting on whether same sex couples should be allowed to "marry". The debate regarding who can marry is yet another example of politicians creating and fostering a wedge between Americans.

Marriage as an institution is a purely religious ceremony conducted by a church to bless the union of two individuals under the eyes of that religion's deity and theocratic dogma. Whereas, a "Marriage License" is merely a conglomeration of 1600+ legal benefits, liabilities, and tax designations, i.e. "CIVIL-RIGHTS" granted by a state.

Since CIVIL-RIGHTS are granted de jure (in law) they are subject to the "Equal Protection Clause" of the 14th Amendment to the United States Federal Constitution. Ergo, CIVIL-RIGHTS fall directly under the principle affirmed by Brown v. Board of Education. Currently, states are maintaining two separate unequal civil institutions by allowing heterosexual couples to obtain a singular license containing the 1600+ legal designations via the courts, whilst requiring same-sex couples to piecemeal together the numerous legalities ad hoc. Thus what costs a heterosexual couple approximately $40.00 can cost thousands of dollars for same-sex couples in court costs and attorney's fees.

The two very distinct paths in securing these civil rights quite laughably, does not even rise to the legal standard extolled under Plessy v. Ferguson which found that governments could only sustain separate civil institutions if they were of no difference in quality. The current structure is indeed separate, but is nowhere close to equal when contrasting the time, research, and monies spent by heterosexual couples against the time, research, and monies spent by same-sex couples.

Moreover, the state's "marriage" license really has nothing to do whatsoever with sanctifying or blessing either union. As such, labeling the aforementioned a "marriage" license is nothing but an attempt by politicians to use the fear of "redefining [theocratic] marriage" as a wedge in order to secure their own slime ridden seats in public office.

It is far more accurate and unduly less divisive to call the license what it indeed is for both heterosexual and same-sex couples; a civil contract of partnership. Any argument to the contrary regarding the accuracy of a marriage license would result in the government affirming a unique religious philosophy, thus breaching separation of church and state.

If an individual church wishes to refuse "sanctifying" a ceremony between same-sex couples then they, as a private institution are free to do so visa vi their inherent right to free association. Their action has no legal consequences whatsoever. The debate over the recognition of same-sex couples needs to be debated amongst the church itself and its congregation. Individual members of the congregation are free to form their own congregation in "protest", interpreting the scriptures as more inclusive and less exclusive much in the same spirit of Martin Luther. Regardless, the debate over the sanctity of unions is best left to the four walls of a chapel, whilst the legality of said partnerships is best left confined within the four walls of a statehouse.

Additionally, governments previously acknowledged the necessity of legally securing partnerships whether by common law or same-sex. In the 19th century, "Boston Marriages" as they were called, secured the rights of women living with one another under the same roof, much in the same way today's "marriage" contracts secure the ability of probate and fiduciary responsibility. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century when modern "marriage" licenses came into existence that Politicians first used the wedge of "traditional marriage" as a way to prevent interracial marriage. One would hope that 100 years later we would not be fooled by the same ruse yet again.

However, until we call bullsh!t on these politicians carelessly throwing around the word "marriage", they will continue to use the word solely as a tool to divide the people against one another.

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Thanks Allison. Very well said. Revolution and protest against marriage being religious is not only a right but an obligation. Protest theocracy for the good of humanity and the future democracy of our country. Their god is not in the mix of my marriage.

Apologies if I misunderstand.

IANAL, but I believe that under strict scrutiny standards, the state has a compelling interest in securing certain rights for married people, E.g., inheritance rights ensure that strangers don't enter homes and walk away with as much as they can carry when someone dies.

If we were to give up the word "marriage," we could run face-first into a mountain of common law and case law that affords certain rights to married people. And we could provide a thousand niches for enemies of equality to pry away rights one by one.

I believe the state's interest in deputizing ministers and certain civil authorities to preside over marriages is to ensure that the couple are alive, present, of age, and acting of their own free will.

Please let's be careful that as we encourage secular marriages, we never give up the word "marriage."

The state has no business using the word marriage as it, [the state] cannot recognize a religious ceremony of one religion while denying the definition of a marital union of another religion. It violates Separation of Church and State.

It is pointless to call either "marriages" as they are not. A "Marriage" contract is merely a bundling of specific statues that apply to a union.

The ancient Romans viewed marriage as a family matter, to be arranged by the male heads of the two families. The wedding was held at the family home. There was a contract that the couple agreed to and signed, and a feast. A wealthy family could add religious rituals at the temple of their choice, but this was extra. Civil authority was not involved.

Early Christianity adopted this Roman marriage model, along with the body of Roman law and bureaucracy that it adopted. The problems started a bit later when the Catholic Church decided to control marriage and families. It invented something called "the sacrament of marriage," that you could only get in church from the priest. If you didn't get it, you weren't legally married. They bundled it with other "sacraments" (baptism, confirmation, etc.) that families also could get only from the priest. In this way, couples and families were at the mercy of a religious authority that claimed to be superior to the civil authority as well.

The Protestant Reformation, and the founding of the Church of England, put a growing population of European non-Catholics in the awful position of having no way to get married legally unless they married in the Catholic Church...which they refused to do. At one point the Anglican Church woke up to the fact that perhaps 20 percent of the country's population were cohabiting and had children out of wedlock, because they had refused to have an Anglican wedding. That was what it took to get England to loosen up her stiff-necked marriage laws.

Finally, after a few centuries of misery and conflict, most Catholic and Protestant European countries had to agree with their people that there could be "civil marriage" as an option to a church ceremony. It would be available to all, regardless of what you believed. It was fully legal, non-religious and dispensed by the civil authorities. This concept was established in the U.S. as well.

It's really pathetic to see conservative Protestants trying to deny the right to marry to LGBT people -- they have obviously forgotten their own desperate battle with the Catholic Church to get the right to marry. Centuries ago, they accepted the idea of civil marriage so that they could have the religious freedom to marry as they chose.

Now, they want to have their cake and eat it too, by stuffing marriage back into the category of "sacrament," so they can claim some kind of self-appointed "religious authority" to decide the definition of marriage and exclude certain people from the right to marry.

But the fact is -- marriage has been "civil" for a number of centuries now, and its legality -- along with any and all benefits and privileges it confers -- is based 100 percent on civil authority, not on religious authority.

In a few years, I would not be surprised to see a religious-right attempt to restore church marriage as a requirement for legality. Given the trend to theocracy in this country, it would be a logical move.

Yeah. But I just don't think this will catch on quickly. I think we need to take away the rights of marriage one by one. Make hospital visitation to anyone a patient chooses, let them assign power of attorney quickly and cheaply, get rid of dynasty-creating tax breaks from married couples, etc.

Christian Miller | November 22, 2008 1:39 AM

Alex, I agree. Have government withdraw from both marriage and civil unions. I can see no necessity or desirability in State or Federal involvement. A marriage license only licenses a couple to be declared married by a deputy of the government. What then? Is there anything the couple can do now that they could not do before? Except collect large subsidies from the Federal Government. "Benefits for all or benefits for none" Couples are still going to live together and raise families with or without government subsidies and benefits.