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Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom Are Not at Odds August 24, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in anti-gay activists, lgbt Issues, marriage equality, religion, religion distorted.

Running out of reasons to oppose same-sex marriage, anti-gay organizations have once again resorted to the argument that same-sex marriage conflicts with religious freedom. Let’s go to the First Amendment of the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

According to anti-gay activists, allowing same-sex civil marriage (which has no official relationship to the church) will somehow violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Does government recognition of civil marriage equality make a law that respects an establishment of religion? Nope. Does same-sex civil marriage prohibit a particular religions’ ability to carry out its practices freely? Don’t think so.

Government marriage licenses have nothing to do with religion. Atheists, Protestants, Muslims, Mormons and Satanists can all get married under the laws of the federal government. There is no requirement to state your religious beliefs or get married in a church… hell, drunk couples get married by an Elvis in Vegas. Government recognition of marriage would not require any church or religious institution to allow a same-sex ceremony.

Anti-gay religious leaders claim legalizing same-sex marriage violates their religious freedoms, but what about the religious freedoms of churches that do recognize same-sex couples? Several denominations, including the United Church of Christ, marry same-sex couples and bless their relationships. If the religious freedoms of anti-gay churches would be violated by legalizing same-sex marriage, it is just as valid to say that more inclusive denominations have their religious freedoms violated by the ban on marriage equality. Or is one religious institution supposed to be respected more than the other? Maybe they should look back at the “no establishment of religion” part of the First Amendment. I guarantee that when same-sex marriage is finally legalized (which it will be), anti-gay churches will be able to continue to condemn gay people from the pulpit without government interference.

Civil marriage is a government contract that extends over a thousand rights and benefits to help protect couples and their families. To say same-sex couples do not deserve protection, that their children do not deserve protection, is a gross violation of the equal protection clause of the constitution.

Anti-gay organizations will continue to use the “religious discrimination” argument as a grounds for continuing discrimination against same-sex couples and LGBT people. Don’t be too surprised though… allowing discrimination because of Bible verses or “religious freedom” is nothing new. Let’s see what good old Wikipedia has to say:

Today nearly all modern Christians are united in the condemnation of slavery as wrong and contrary to God’s will. Nearly all Christian leaders before the late 17th century recorded slavery, within specific Biblical limitations, as consistent with Christian theology. In both Europe and the United States, progressive Christians were at the forefront of the abolitionist movements.

Let’s hope progressives once again use compassion and common-sense when applying Bible verses to our modern world.


1. tin65 - August 26, 2006

It is really hard to comment on such delicate and controversial issues such as this one. I think the main problem of this issue is the acceptance of it. Like in my case, I am a catholic and most people living here in our country are catholics. This argument is quite hard for us to accept . Maybe it will just take time when everybody is just liberated enough to accept the full implementation of this one. But don’t take me wrong , I am not against it.

2. james in DC - August 26, 2006

tin65 – we need more people like you. for many it is a difficult concept to grasp, but i appreciate you taking the time to consider the possibility of allowing same-sex marriage. here is how i try to position it to people: forget the use of the word marriage, and think about allowing same-sex couples the same protections and benefits as heterosexual couples receive. i guarantee you same-sex couples are just as much in love as other couples, and that now up to a third of them have children (whether from other marriages or adoptions). same-sex couples want their families protected and recognized as equal and want the security of being legal partners in the government’s eyes. so many things are taken for granted: joint checking accounts for married couples, hospital visitation rights, pension benefits, spousal health care. and for many people, it is less about the benefits and more about being able to be proud of your relationship and taking it to the next level. can you imagine meeting the love of your life and realizing that your highest peak, the ultimate commitment, is to call yourselves partners, not husband or wife?

tin65… if you have any gay or lesbian friends, ask them why they want to get married. you get a much better understanding then when you hear a “gay marriage” story on TV news. we need more open minded people like you who are willing to go beyond rhetoric from both sides, and instead think about the same-sex couples this affects.

3. Fundamentalist Hypocrisy: Literalism for You, Not Me « News Fit to Post - making social justice visible - August 29, 2006

[…] In a wonderful column in the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts Jr. criticizes fundamentalists who use the literal meaning of Bible verses to condemn gay people but then ignore the literal meaning of other passages that condemn their actions. The double-standard is glaring, and Leonard Pitts’ column is a more eloquent version of my earlier post on right-wing Christian hypocrisy. I encourage you to read the entire column, but here are some highlights: …it illustrates a point I’ve made on many occasions when people bring out Bibles to explain why gay folk deserve no civil rights. Maybe now, without the reflexive emotionalism that gay brings to cloud their view, a few more people will see the obvious: Bible literalism is impractical and impossible……has no one else noticed how literally some Christians interpret those Scriptures that give them license to condemn, yet how elastic and liberal their readings are when dealing with Scriptures that convict their personal behaviors? Meaning that it’s always a little more difficult to catch people being literal about turn the other cheek, do not store up treasures on earth, do not turn away the borrower, love your enemy. […]

4. North Dallas Thirty - August 31, 2006

Or think of it as I do.

Heterosexual couples and homosexual couples are fundamentally different in terms of the potential consequences, nature, and psychology of their relationships.

Many gay people, myself included, are proud of our relationships as is, and find the rhetoric of gay activists who claim we need “marriage” to take them to the next level of commitment, or that we are somehow lesser without the use of “husband” or “wife”, to be demeaning.

Furthermore, we recognize that civil marriage is less some magical means of obtaining rights that are denied to people who aren’t, and more of a legal convenience that simply makes it quicker. Instead of spending millions of dollars on lawsuits and propaganda annually to override voters like yourself and impose gay marriage when you’ve clearly shown yourself to be uncomfortable with it, we believe that “gay activists” should take that money and provide legal assistance to those gay couples who want to enact legal instruments giving them the right to hospital visitation, etc.

5. North Dallas Thirty - August 31, 2006

That being said, I outlined my views for a Catholic friend elsewhere. Feel free to take a look at that perspective.

6. Carla - September 26, 2006

Im not for it in many different ways but im also for it because like everything, there are pros and cons for this daily matter “problem”. Im against it because the bible does say that onle man and woman should be held in holy matrimony.it does never say two men can mary in holy matrimony.But yet we have the right and our hearts cant decide who to love or how to be.Im for it because two people that love each other should be able to express and fufill a life like any other.

7. imparare - April 15, 2007

Interesting comments.. 😀

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