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Amidst all the good feelings from the election (every vote I cast for every candidate and proposal was a winning vote — that has never happened!), there are sour notes. The anti–gay marriage proposals in Arizona and Florida passed, and it looks like Prop 8 in California is going to pass as well.

This needs to go to the Supreme Court, and quickly. This is not a legislative issue: it never has been and never should have been treated as one. This is not an issue about the sanctity of marriage or any other religious consideration. Anyone who thinks so is blinded by prejudice.

This is quite simply an issue of civil rights. The electoral majority cannot be relied upon to ensure the civil rights of minorities are upheld. This is precisely what the courts were set up for, to protect minorities against the tyranny of the majority. Democracy without such checks is nothing short of anarchy.

Ours is a country founded on certain inviolable principles, one of the most important of which is the separation of church and state. And the fact is that there are two sorts of marriage in this country, civil and religious. The state happens to recognize marriages officiated in various religious rites (and from other cultural traditions), but there is no quid pro quo: the Catholic Church, at least, does not recognize a civil marriage unless it is consecrated in the Church. I imagine other religious rites treat marriage similarly. Whatever your views on the issue, the state's recognition of gay marriage and extension of all the benefits accorded it does not compromise the "sanctity" of marriage as defined by various religious traditions.

Nor could it without violating one of our founding principles. If we allow narrow-minded religious sentiment to hold sway in the case of gay marriage, where does it stop? Do we require all women to be covered from head-to-toe in public, according to one faith? Take away their right to employment, according to another? Do we mandate complete cessation of all work, human or machine, on certain days, according to others? Well, that's a bit extreme, you're saying? To which I respond: (1) all extreme injustices have their root in small acts that made the extreme possible, and (2) denying homosexuals their basic human rights is more than just a bit extreme.

The United States of America may be "one nation under God," but it reserves for the individual the right to choose who or what, if any, that god is. I will never tolerate the state telling me what I, as a devout Catholic, should believe, nor will I tolerate my Church or any other religious entity using government as an instrument to force its creed on others. The principle of separation of church and state goes back much further than our Founding Fathers: Jesus himself said, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21).

The religious right is scared that gay marriage will corrupt its religion's conception of marriage, despite civil and religious marriage being separate entities, and is so eager to foist its beliefs on all, irrespective of religious affiliation and despite an established principle separating church and state; yet it forgets perhaps the single most important tenet of its faith. To deny an entire class of people a basic human right, to deny them the pursuit of love and happiness, to classify them as somehow less than fully human, is not compatible with our Lord Jesus Christ's commandment to "love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

Banning gay marriage is, from both a civil and Christian perspective, a moral wrong. Voters have no right to perpetrate such a wrong. For the sake of justice, the courts need to intervene.

Comments

rsc
Nov. 5th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
Two reasons why it shouldn't go to the Supreme Court:

1) Not this Supreme Court, please!

2) but any Supreme Court would probably rule (probably properly) that it's a state issue and they have no jurisdiction.

DOMA could be thrown out by the Supreme Court if the right judges were asked the right question, but I'd rather just see it repealed. I'm not hopeful, though.

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