Ok – unless you are living under the proverbial rock, you must know by now that Gay Marriage is now legal in New Jersey. New Jersey in fact is the 14th state where same sex marriage is now legal. The approval came by way of an odd route and the details are here: http://helenglassesq.com/ Gay folks at least in NJ and the 13 other states who recognize marriage between them will now not only enjoy all the rights and benefits of straight folk who are married, but will also join the many married men and women looking for a way out of that sacred trust – divorce! Not that the laws were all that different prior to this month – but now all the judicial and statutory law that governs divorces between straight couples will (should?) apply to those gay men and women who once married decide that their partner is no longer “the one.” The theory behind legalizing gay marriage, according to the US Supreme Court in US V. Windsor – decided in June, 2013, was many federal benefits were unavailable to those who were not labeled “married,” or who could be described as spouse, husband, wife, and married. Therefore civil unions and other statutory created marriage like partnerships created to permit gays to live in married like situations did not provide equal rights to these conferred on those who were “married” and to rights, benefits and privileges which flowed from that status.
I have followed this issue for a long time. My thoughts have always been that marriage defined in a religious sense should not be what determines rights that flow from government. We do live in a society and are governed by a constitution that is quite clear that church and state should remain separate. Not that I am unmindful of the history of marriage – but in the case of marriage there is an intertwining of church and state functions which I do not believe should be.
Those wishing to marry are required by the government to obtain a license from and pay a fee to the government. Those who wish to marry in a church, synagogue, or mosque of their choosing then consult with a representative of that entity, and if that entity has additional requirements, the couple chooses whether or not to comply and the couple is subsequently married in their church, or in a civil ceremony. The minister, priest, rabbi, imam or other officiant signs their marriage license, which is eventually returned back to the state and an official state document is later produced, which serves as evidence of their legal marriage. When the couple has utilized their place of worship to marry the officiant has acted as an agent of the state to preside over the ceremony and affix his or her signature onto the marriage license.
Various individuals have objected to gay marriage as an intrusion into religious freedom by requiring religious officials to marry individuals who may not be qualified to marry under the rules of their particular faith. This objection has been framed in many ways, but in nearly all cases the bottom line is that god didn’t intend for those of the same sex to “marry.”
The government should not, at least in my humble opinion have anything to do with whether or not two people should be permitted to marry in the religious sense. Religions uniformly have their own concept of what marriage should be, how married couples should live their lives and how children should be raised. In my view marriage should stay in the church, mosque or synagogue, and have nothing whatsoever to do with whether one receives or is entitled to any government right, benefit or privilege. Let the religious brethren decide for their congregants what the requirements are to marry and bear children with the blessing of their god. Let them also determine what the requirements are for dissolution of that union.
Let the state decide who can enter into a civil union and thereby enter into a legally binding economic agreement that confers governmental benefits. This way we have no intrusion of religion into government and no government interference with religion.