This Page

has been moved to new address

The complication of state-licensed marriage

Sorry for inconvenience...

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
Wide White: The complication of state-licensed marriage

Friday, March 05, 2010

The complication of state-licensed marriage

The last 10 years have been rife with debate over whether or not marriage licenses should be open to same-sex couples. I've seen a few stories recently that I believe are relevant to the issue.

The first was an article from MinnPost about a straight Austrian couple who wants a same-sex marriage. Austrian same-sex unions carry over 72 differences from straight unions in Austria, and this couple sees advantages in the legal same-sex union over the legal straight union.

The second story was about Obama's proposed health care bill. The proposal to pay for this bill includes raising "Medicare payroll taxes on individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples over $250,000." If the disadvantage to being legally married doesn't make sense to you here, it's probably not worth me trying to explain it.

The third story isn't a news story but was something relayed to me recently. I was told of a pastor who will perform Christian marriages but won't sign the legal, civil marriage certificate because he doesn't believe the state should be responsible for authorizing something that is religious in his mind.

I'll let the stories above speak for themselves without my detailed review of each one. Suffice it to say, the first exposes flaws in multiple types of unions, the second shows just one disincentive to civil marriage, and the third simply raises the question of whether or not the state should even be involved in sanctioning marriage.

What should the state be sanctioning and what shouldn't it? Should it be creating a civil union to sanction what is ultimately a religious union?

Regardless of the answer to that question, there are enough benefits to civil marriage that have been built into our society and government that it's clear it will never go away. There's a reason military personnel often marry just before going overseas rather than when they would otherwise have gotten married. Whether it's death benefits, job benefits, hospital visitation rights, end of life decisions, etc., marriage provides a legal verification of a personal bond that is so close, one person is able to make legal decisions for the other when necessary.

I think I've been wrong on this issue in the past. I see absolutely no reason these legal rights shouldn't be available to same-sex couples. I couldn't care less if you call it marriage or a civil union, it's civil either way. I am convinced that whatever it's called for same-sex couples it should also be called for straight couples. Calling it something else and attributing different rights to it means it's legally not the same thing. It doesn't have to be the same thing religiously, but it should be the same thing legally.

I don't believe the Bible condones same-sex unions. I also don't believe the Bible condones sex outside of marriage, drunkenness, addiction to [insert addiction here], etc., yet these things are legally permitted and they should be.

I'm increasingly convinced of a more libertarian view of how our government should operate and this is just part of that. The hours and money spent fighting for constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions have been astronomical. California's Proposition 8 saw $83.2 million spent to sway voters both ways. Of all of the campaigns across the United States on 11-5-08, Prop 8 was only surpassed by the presidential campaign in the amount of money spent. Does anyone else think that's absolutely outrageous?!?

It's time to change our laws and watch life go on.

5 Comments:

Blogger watchman declared,

Great post, Joey.

I just performed a wedding last night, so this is fresh on my mind.

Perhaps the problem is with terminology. The term "license" is unfortunate. I have always seen the certificate as more of a contract that the county clerk notarizes. It is an important process since the clerk can verify identities, and track genealogical records.

On the other hand, in Michigan, if I (an agent of the church) solemnize any wedding without a state license, I could be sentenced to 90 days in jail ( Michigan statute 551.106). To me, this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment

The state has no real place issuing a "license" for a couple to be married, in my opinion. I do it. I think it is my place as a member of the community to offer the service of officiating. But, I dislike the idea of being a de-facto agent of the state ("by the authority invested in me").

The state and the church ought to remain separate. Weddings/marriages are one of the realms where we allow this separation to be violated regularly.

PS - if the state authorizes marriages, what happens if the state revoke their authorization?

3/06/2010 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Edie Howe declared,

Hello, Joey, and thank you for your kind words; On this particular topic, two things are important to keep in mind:

Marriage has a benefit for society, and it is in our collective interest to recognize and support it. The obverse of that is in the case of divorce, often it is the state that ensures a fair and equitable division of property.

Secondly, marriage is not a wholey religious institution; The so-called "Pilgrims" argued that the "sacrament" of marriage was invalid, that it was a strictly civil contract and that the church had no stake in performing marriages.

When you take these to factors into consideration, the mentality of "marriage for me and not for thee of no/little/the wrong faith" becomes discriminatory.

Marriage in America is both a civil contract and religious rite. Doing away with civil marriages strips married couples of the legal and social privileges already in place such as medical decisions and inheritance.

Are you sure you want to give up the right to make medical decisions if your wife is in a coma?

Do you want to go through the expense of having powers of attorney drawn up for such situations as visits to the hospital?

How about having to prove you're the father of your lovely twins? The fact that you are married to the woman who gave birth to them makes you their legal father in some states, regardless of the genetic link from you to them, are you aware of that?

These assurances are in place already. Are you sure you want to do away with them by abolishing civil marriages?

There are clergy out there that want to be able to perform legal, religious marriage ceremonies, but they are being denied their religious right.

Edie
http://littleredtent.net/LRTblog

4/14/2010 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Edie Howe declared,

In response to Watchman;

Currently the only legal reason to deny a license for marriage in Michigan is for consanguinity, lack of ability to give informed consent (i.e. adults), and for same-sex status. As a minister, you have the power to invest heterosexual, non-consanguineous adult couples with the legal rights provided by the state. By solemnizing a marriage, it could be argued that they have claim to those protections under the law. But to obtain those protections, they must meet the civil qualifications. If you marry a couple who don't meet those qualifications, you are granting protections that the law says they are not entitled to. None of those limitations are religious other than same-sex. How are your rights being violated?

Finally, the only time the state can withdraw authorization for marriage is when those limitations have been found--consanguineous marriages, e.g., or one party lied about their age. In such cases the marriage is annulled. Do you really have a problem with that?

As ordained clergy myself, I refuse to perform heterosexual marriages because there is no equity under the law for same-sex couples. My religion recognizes same-sex relationships between non-consanguineous adults , and my ability to solemnize those relationships in holy matrimony, but my "invested power" only extends to heterosexual couples. My power as ordained clergy is being denied to me.

Edie

4/14/2010 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous declared,

Joey, this is your father. Mom just showed me your blog. I quote you, "I think I've been wrong on this issue in the past. I see absolutely no reason these legal rights shouldn't be available to same-sex couples. I couldn't care less if you call it marriage or a civil union, it's civil either way. I am convinced that whatever it's called for same-sex couples it should also be called for straight couples. Calling it something else and attributing different rights to it means it's legally not the same thing. It doesn't have to be the same thing religiously, but it should be the same thing legally.

I don't believe the Bible condones same-sex unions. I also don't believe the Bible condones sex outside of marriage, drunkenness, addiction to [insert addiction here], etc., yet these things are legally permitted and they should be."
I am sad to read these words. You are getting caught up in post-modern thought where everything becomes a debate decided by votes and human legislation/laws. God has clearly weighed in on these moral matters. And for you to suggest that something should be "legal" that He condemns is sad indeed. I trust that I would have stood with John the Baptist and told Herod he was morally wrong for having Herodias regardless of any "law" or vote. God is our Creator and yields to no human or human institution or government for direction on what is right and wrong. So as one of His followers, I will stand with Him even if it means my head. I recommend standing with Him and His Son to you as well. Avoid making gray what He has already ruled plainly on.

4/28/2010 10:58 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Dad, you seem to be advocating for a theocracy. If we become a theocracy, how are we any different than Iran or any other Muslim nation ruled by their religious laws? I don't believe this was at all what our founders intended or what should be in place. I don't think Christ intended the Bible to be our legislative guide.

John the Baptist was telling Herod the truth: he was morally wrong. He wasn't suggesting that Herod outlaw fornication.

What penalty do you suggest we have for sex outside of marriage or any other number of sins that are legal?

I don't think that you would suggest a marriage of church and state. Otherwise, we would revert back to colonial and European days (actually, it's still practiced in some European countries) where church tithes were derived from taxes. We would actively support government welfare provision for the poor. We could even advocate the government supporting Christian missionaries.

But we don't support many of these things. So I'm not sure why the government should legislate fornication, homosexuality, etc. I don't see how that makes me postmodern.

4/30/2010 4:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home