Reflections on Marriage
Marriage is a contract, not a 'sacred institution'
by Freethinker Bob

In the wake of the state of California legalizing gay marriage, many fundamentalist religionists across America have stepped-up their push for an oppressive Constitutional amendment. The aim of such an amendment would be to define marriage and civil unions as "sacred institutions." This, of course, would prohibit gay and lesbian couples from enjoying more than 1,000 rights married heterosexuals currently experience. For example, being able to visit their partners in the hospital and file taxes jointly.

Despite the fact that nearly 90% of heterosexual Americans will marry at least once in their lives and roughly 40% will ultimately divorce, the “sanctity of marriage” line is repeated. But, isn’t the prohibition of state-recognized marriage or civil unions for both straight and gay people—except on the basis of non-adult age, non-adult competency or non-human status—nothing short of discrimination?

Isn’t limiting same-sex marriage or civil unions exclusively on the basis of sexuality akin to the now-repealed historical prohibitions of interracial or mixed-class marriages?

From a legal standpoint, refusing the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Such a restriction also discriminates on the basis of sex because it uses gender to prohibit one’s choice in marrying. The very same view was undertaken in many states just 40 years ago, when marriages between individuals of different races and ethnicities, were restricted.

By licensing any marriage or civil union, Americans must not forget that the state transcends and does not consider matrimony as being a "moral" or religious act. Rather, the state solidifies it as a secular, contractual union betwixt two individuals.

The very idea that "morality" is automatically equated with marriage and dictates which adults can be joined and recognized by law, is based on nothing more than theocratic emotion. Such emotion prematurely contends that homosexuality is a "choice" and, therefore, "improper." While the jury may still be out on this argument, those contending that marriage is a morally sacred institution haven’t looked at some of the facts.

In the State of Vermont, for instance, where same-sex civil unions have been legally recognized since 2000, there were four homosexual divorces between 2000-2002. That's four divorces for the 3,741 civil union licenses issued.

Despite the stability of gay and lesbian marriages, the 1996 President Clinton and GOP-led Congress-passed "Defense of Marriage Act" remains in effect. The act states that, at the federal level, the definition of "marriage" and "spouse" applies only to heterosexual couples. The law additionally notes that states prohibiting same-sex unions and marriages don't have to recognize gay and lesbian couples wed in states that do.

The law was passed in a quick, reactionary response to three same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses in Hawaii that same year. Under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, however, states are required to recognize the "acts, records and proceedings" of all 50 states. That means that if a couple is married in any state where same-sex civil unions are recognized, they have to be legally recognized in every other state as well.

Perhaps a more simplistic argument than "sanctity" is that homosexual unions cannot produce offspring and are, therefore, "unnatural" and "improper." But couldn’t the same reasoning be used to legally prohibit a heterosexual couple – who is sterile, impotent, postmenopausal or simply does not want children from marrying – seeing as their union will never produce offspring?

The truth is that the act of marriage is not limited to tradition and sacrament alone; it encompasses many other crucial facets, like interpersonal communication, financial unity and emotional stability. And all of these elements of matrimony are not limited to sexual orientation.


Brian Wright Professional Services

Campaign for Liberty




MX Fast Money Success System :: Banner 06


Coffee Coaster Blog
Your Ad Here
Main | Columns | Movie Reviews | Book Reviews | Articles | Guest