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Freedom of religion & Gay marriage


JustinW
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Once again I have heard a rant about how the ban for gay marriage is forcing people's religion onto others. I have always found this to be a hypocritical point of view and somewhat inaccurate at the very least. Historically marriage has been a religious institution. The basis of marriage was to make a vow in the sight of God and for all men to bear witness to that vow. Since marriage is a religious ceremony, the hypocricy and the denial of the freedom to practice ones own religion comes in to play when the freedom to define it as a religious act under the practices of that religion are denied. Marriages that do not meet this criteria, whether same sex or not, should fall under the definition of a civil union. This means any union that is not performed by a religious leader, or vows taken in the sight of the God of that religion. (whatever God or religion that may be) I do believe that everyone should have the same legal rights to their spouces whether they are same sex spouces or not. I also believe they should fall under the scope of civil union instead of a marriage. This also goes for heterosexual unions that are performed by a justice of the peace. They shouldn't be classified as a marriage if they are not performed with a religious meaning. Marriage is not a law. It is just recognized by the law. If civil unions could give the same rights to information, property, etc..., then it should be sufficient in the eyes of rational people. BUT, by demanding that you be included in a religious act without any regard for that religions practices defiles the sanctaty of that institution.

 

I can understand the outrage of not being included in an institution when that institution is recognized by law, and given rights that are denied to others, but shouldn't the passing of civil union rights that encompasses the same body as a marriage be sufficient enough without having to impede on someone's religion?

 

I know that this has been talked about here before, but knowing that there are bound to be alot that disagree with me, I would like to know what is wrong with my take on this issue.

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If marriage is a religious institution, then a government that separates religion from state has no right to intervene. But just because historically marriages have been performed in churches doesn't necessarily make marriage a religious institution.

 

I would challenge the idea that marriage is inherently religious in nature. Formal marriage bondings happened before organized religions, usually as a diplomatic way to join tribes. So historically, marriage predates religion.

 

Marriage is basically a contract performed as a ceremony with witnesses to acknowledge its validity. Marriages can be performed without any religious context whatsoever. If you want to change the definition of marriage to require religious content, you're going to have to explain it to all the people who have marriage licenses signed by a Justice of the Peace in a secular ceremony held in a government office. Good luck.

 

Hopefully not too far off-topic, but is it a religious ceremony when a politician is sworn into office, just because they swear on a Bible?

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The basis of marriage was to make a vow in the sight of God and for all men to bear witness to that vow.

 

Oh, and here I thought the historical basis of marriage was a legal contract between families.

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I think the issue runs rather deeper.

I don't see evidence for this assertion.

"Historically marriage has been a religious institution. "

I strongly suspect that marriage (or at least some sort of pair bonding) predates any religion.

I think it's only relatively recently that religion got involved.

 

Also, re "Marriage is not a law."

That's news to the UK statutes.

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/12-13-14/76/contents

 

OK, so plenty of people want to marry in church. Fine I have no problem with that as long as the church is still a public place (in order that anyone who actually does "know of any just impediment..." can "speak now")

 

But religion should realise that it has no historical or legal claim to a monopoly on marriage.

Once they realise that, the "problem" of gay marriage goes away (along with "problems" of atheist marriage, mixed religion marriage and any other types that the men in dresses get upset about).

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Even accepting the premises of your argument, some of which are questionable, you're still wrong.

 

It is demonstrably false to claim that religious same-sex marriages would be an imposition on religion for two reasons:

 

1) The religious approach to same-sex marriage is not homogeneous. Some religious sects are in favour of same-sex marriage, and many churches would be willing to host them. Is it not, therefore, an imposition by one religion on another to deny these churches the ability to marry same-sex couples?

 

2) Given the availability of churches willing to conduct same-sex marriages, same-sex couples will have no desire whatsoever to demand a religious ceremony from an institution that condemns homosexuality. Thus, there is no imposition to be found. Churches which oppose same-sex marriage will be perfectly free to not conduct them, but that is where freedom of religion ends. It does not extend to denying other churches the right to wed same-sex couples, just as it is not a legally permissible exercise of freedom of religion to enslave people because it is endorsed in the Bible.

Edited by Polednice
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I strongly suspect that marriage (or at least some sort of pair bonding) predates any religion.

I think it's only relatively recently that religion got involved.

I also strongly suspect that marriage naturally gravitated to churches in order to strengthen the vows involved. The added threat of endangering your "immortal soul" was probably seen as an incentive against oathbreaking.

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The basis of marriage was to make a vow in the sight of God and for all men to bear witness to that vow. Since marriage is a religious ceremony, the hypocricy and the denial of the freedom to practice ones own religion comes in to play when the freedom to define it as a religious act under the practices of that religion are denied.

 

Marriage is not simply a symbolic religious gesture - it is a legal status with legal implications:

 

For the purposes of immigrant visas, the US only recognizes spousal relationships and thus grants dependent visas only to married couples. If two people are prevented from marrying each other despite being in a committed relationship - (e.g. they are both of the same gender and gay marriage is outlawed) they are by default excluded from gaining a dependent visa for entry to the US. Eg. A gay Australian professor is offered a job in the US and applies for a H1 class visa. His partner wishes to apply for an H2 dependent visa to accompany him. This is disallowed as they are not married and the professor's partner is not permitted to stay in the US for a period of longer than 90 days.

 

If they were a heterosexual couple, they could be married under Australian law and thus the H2 visa would be issued to the spouse no questions asked.

 

As a result, the prevention of gay marriage in Australia results in indirect discrimination against gay couples.

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Phi,

 

If marriage is a religious institution, then a government that separates religion from state has no right to intervene. But just because historically marriages have been performed in churches doesn't necessarily make marriage a religious institution.

 

So you're saying that marriages started from a basis of law rather than religion. Who's law? And I guess that would have been a secular law huh? Sounds like we had some pretty up-to-date ancestors.

 

 

I would challenge the idea that marriage is inherently religious in nature. Formal marriage bondings happened before organized religions, usually as a diplomatic way to join tribes. So historically, marriage predates religion.

 

So you're saying those TRIBES were strictly secular. What time period do you suggest for this?

 

 

Marriage is basically a contract performed as a ceremony with witnesses to acknowledge its validity. Marriages can be performed without any religious context whatsoever. If you want to change the definition of marriage to require religious content, you're going to have to explain it to all the people who have marriage licenses signed by a Justice of the Peace in a secular ceremony held in a government office. Good luck.

This is percisely why I included heterosexuals, that do not have a religious ceremony, in the definition of civil unions also. Civil unions may be performed without any religious context, but the argument is whether a "marriage" can be. And since I maintain that marriages have been majorily religious institutions, I believe that a "marriage" should be defined by the common practice of the religion that performs it.

Polednice made some interesting points which I will have to think about and adress in a minute.

 

 

Hopefully not too far off-topic, but is it a religious ceremony when a politician is sworn into office, just because they swear on a Bible?
I'm surprised they haven't gotten rid of that yet as well. It's getting to where you can't even say the word God anywhere public these days. I wouldn't call that a ceremony any more than swearing an oath to tell truth in a court of law would be.

 

ydoaPs,

Oh, and here I thought the historical basis of marriage was a legal contract between families.
Like I asked Phi above, Who's law? What time period did this "secular" law begin?

 

John Cuthber,

 

I strongly suspect that marriage (or at least some sort of pair bonding) predates any religion.

I think it's only relatively recently that religion got involved.

 

Pair bonding may pre-date religion, but the ceromony involved? You would think that there would have to be a problem dealing with the ceremony before somone came up with a laws to solve such a problem.(hence contract) Which was the subsequental law that encompassed marriage to provide rights to one's spouce. So therefore I still maintain that law came after religious ceremony, not the other way around.

 

 

 

Polednice,

 

I had to think about this for a second, but have come to the conclusion that what you suggest has little to bear on the matter. On both of your points it would be like saying that the Mason's headquarters doesn't dictate the rules of other masonic lodges. If you join a club, follow the rules, or find another club.

 

2) Given the availability of churches willing to conduct same-sex marriages, same-sex couples will have no desire whatsoever to demand a religious ceremony from an institution that condemns homosexuality.
And here, why a church? And doesn't the phrasing of civil union coupled with all the legality that currently encompasses a marriage not solve the problem? It's just a term, and since religion has historically claimed this term, why not let 'em have at it? It seems irrational to spend so much time, energy, money on such a silly thing as the phrasing of a contract. Doesn't it?

 

Arete,

 

As a result, the prevention of gay marriage in Australia results in indirect discrimination against gay couples
I can see the problem with this here, and I agree. But I still think that civil unions encompassing all the rights that embody a marriage will solve it. Edited by JustinW
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Polednice,

I had to think about this for a second, but have come to the conclusion that what you suggest has little to bear on the matter. On both of your points it would be like saying that the Mason's headquarters doesn't dictate the rules of other masonic lodges. If you join a club, follow the rules, or find another club.

 

Are you suggesting that there is an authoritative religious answer to the question of same-sex marriage? There isn't. There's a Catholic answer, a Baptist answer, an Episcopalian answer, an Anglican answer, a Mormon answer, a Unitarian answer, etc. etc. As I stated earlier, the fact that some religious institutions would want to conduct same-sex marriage means that you cannot say the religious position is against same-sex marriage.

 

And here, why a church? And doesn't the phrasing of civil union coupled with all the legality that currently encompasses a marriage not solve the problem? It's just a term, and since religion has historically claimed this term, why not let 'em have at it? It seems irrational to spend so much time, energy, money on such a silly thing as the phrasing of a contract. Doesn't it?

 

Arete,

 

I can see the problem with this here, and I agree. But I still think that civil unions encompassing all the rights that embody a marriage will solve it.

I agree with you that civil unions provide an interesting solution, provided that they do match marriage rights identically. However, I focused on churches because you are saying that there is a religious position on this, but, as I've said multiple times now, that's not the case - there are many religious positions, all of them different. Thus, if a Christian gay couple would like their wedding to be blessed in a religious ceremony, by what logic do you suggest they are prohibited?

Edited by Polednice
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So you're saying that marriages started from a basis of law rather than religion. Who's law? And I guess that would have been a secular law huh? Sounds like we had some pretty up-to-date ancestors.

The concept of law predates Judaism, if that's where you're going. Law predates recorded history, since some of the first recordings were about the various laws that were in effect at the time. One can easily imagine that the first primitive gatherings of early men were to decide what was acceptable and what was not within their society. And one can also easily imagine that fertile women were a favorite topic of those decisions. Why would such decisions need to be "up-to-date"?

 

 

So you're saying those TRIBES were strictly secular. What time period do you suggest for this?

Why does it matter? Are you assigning some sort of arbitrary cutoff date for this information's relevance?

 

 

This is percisely why I included heterosexuals, that do not have a religious ceremony, in the definition of civil unions also. Civil unions may be performed without any religious context, but the argument is whether a "marriage" can be. And since I maintain that marriages have been majorily religious institutions, I believe that a "marriage" should be defined by the common practice of the religion that performs it.

I was married in the front room of the house my fiance and I had just bought together, looking out towards the 60-foot pine tree that the original owner of the house planted on the day he and his fiance were married. The man who performed our ceremony was licensed to do so, but had no connection to any church or religion. I have a marriage license, signed and registered with the State of Colorado. Are you telling me I'm not married under your guidelines?

 

 

I'm surprised they haven't gotten rid of that yet as well. It's getting to where you can't even say the word God anywhere public these days. I wouldn't call that a ceremony any more than swearing an oath to tell truth in a court of law would be.

I consider taking the oath of office a ceremony. In fact, they even call it The Swearing-in Ceremony. Gerald Ford didn't even have an inauguration when he took over for Nixon, he just had a Swearing-in Ceremony. Swearing an oath to tell the truth in court is also a formal ceremony, witnessed by officials and punishable to those who foreswear themselves. But I don't consider either to be religious ceremonies, even with the Bible and the mention of God.

Edited by Phi for All
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is it a religious ceremony when a politician is sworn into office, just because they swear on a Bible?

I'm surprised they haven't gotten rid of that yet as well [as religious marriages]. It's getting to where you can't even say the word God anywhere public these days. I wouldn't call that a ceremony any more than swearing an oath to tell truth in a court of law would be.

I've been a Christian for 25 years, and the Bible does not claim Adam and Eve's marriage as a religious ceremony.

 

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

I'm tired of hearing well-intended people claim that "you can't even say the word God anywhere public these days". It simply isn't true.

 

Lastly, they got rid of swearing on Bibles in courts where I am, and according to the Bible, it's evil.

 

Do not take an oath at all ... Let what you say be simply "Yes" or "No"; anything more than this comes from evil.
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John Cuthber,

 

Pair bonding may pre-date religion, but the ceromony involved? You would think that there would have to be a problem dealing with the ceremony before somone came up with a laws to solve such a problem.(hence contract) Which was the subsequental law that encompassed marriage to provide rights to one's spouce. So therefore I still maintain that law came after religious ceremony, not the other way around.

 

There was ( I think) probably a ceremony of some sort before there was a law or a religion.

Birds do it

Bees do it.

 

I'm afraid I couldn't find a video of educated fleas doing it.

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I can see the problem with this here, and I agree. But I still think that civil unions encompassing all the rights that embody a marriage will solve it.

The other posters above have MORE than adequately refuted most of your key premises, and there truly is little more that I could add. However, I would just like to comment briefly on one specific point, and add my own response to this "civil unions will solve it" mentality you've raised. I need to begin with a question, though, as that's really the heart of the issue.

 

 

When it comes to the concept of marriage, what relevant secular reason do you have to treat couples sharing similar genitals differently than couples sharing different genitals? (pay close attention to those two words... "relevant" and "secular." they're important). You may seek to provide the same benefits, but you're still looking to implement a different structure, language, and approach... Ergo, you're treating them differently.

 

As has already been shared above, there are religions who allow same sex couples to marry, so it's not a religious thing. Maybe YOUR religion won't allow unions of this type, but not religions in general... and, as you know, we cannot legally codify the wants and desires of just ONE religion at the expense of others... not if we hope to abide by the first amendment to our constitution, that is. So... religion for various reasons isn't the issue here... What is the relevant secular reason for the different treatment then? That's the question you must address.

 

You see... We also have something called the 14th amendment. It contains the Equal Protections Clause. You being a mostly right-wing Ayn Randian-type thinker who so consistently praises the constitution like a bible handed down to us from on high via stone tablets, I'm sure you already know this, but for other readers not as clear on this as you surely are... That Equal Protections Clause basically means that any time you write a law that impacts people differently based on something like their skin color, religion, or sexuality, there must simultaneously be a relevant secular reason for that differential treatment (such as "to prevent harm to others" or "to protect personal property"). That law cannot constitutionally treat people differently unless there are relevant secular reasons for that differential treatment.

 

This was established long ago, and given structure through the "Lemon Test," put forth by the Supreme Court in the case Lemon v. Kurtzman back more than 40 years ago in 1971. Having studied this topic a little, I have to warn you that I suspect your logic of "civil unions fixing the issue" would fail this (the first prong of the) lemon test. If I understand you correctly, the premise of your position is that marriage is religious in nature (which has been addressed, and it's not, and even if it is, other religions allow it so the premise still fails), and you then suggest that "civil unions" might solve the issues we're facing today thus making everyone happy. TBH, that's a fairly legitimate argument (ignoring the counter points and refutations already offered above), but you have not yet addressed the central question I raise here... and it is one of constitutionality.

 

What relevant secular reason do you have to treat couples sharing similar genitals differently than couples sharing different genitals?

 

It can't be religion. Atheists get married, no problem there. Other churches allow same sex unions. No problem there, either. It can't be related to the ability to reproduce or have children as infertile couples are not prevented from marrying, nor are elderly couples who are past their reproductive years prevented from marrying. It can't be related to history or tradition, as even the christian church itself performed same sex marriages way back in the 11 and 1200s, and frankly... if we're being honest with each other... "traditional marriage" was more about trading your daughter for a few head of cattle than it was about "different genitals." There's more, but I think I've made my point.

 

What relevant secular reason do you have to treat couples sharing similar genitals differently than couples sharing different genitals? If you cannot name any, then your proposal appears to be little more than an attempt to institutionalize a form of religiously motivated bigotry, and that would be simply unconstitutional. I think you and I, Justin, we both respect our constitution way too much to allow that, don't you think?

Edited by iNow
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Actual origin of marriage:

 

You give me five sheep and ox, I give you lady.

 

Indeed, Unicorn, that's right. Marriage was a trade agreement long before it was a religious thing and WAY before it had anything to do with love.

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Actual origin of marriage:

 

You give me five sheep and ox, I give you lady.

That is a very costly lady. In economies like these I cannot offer you more than four goats.

 

Honestly though, the prices have been rising enormously (in Sudan) My link

 

 

 

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For those who think that description is outdated, may I remind you that we still talk about the bride's father "giving her away".

Marriage has been a property transfer agreement for a long time. Ownership of the bride was formally transferred from the father to the husband.

Not very PC, but that was the way it was.

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I also strongly suspect that marriage naturally gravitated to churches in order to strengthen the vows involved. The added threat of endangering your "immortal soul" was probably seen as an incentive against oathbreaking.

 

Also a power grab, I suspect, to exert control. Much like in the movie "The Firm" — "No one's divorced in the firm" and "The firm encourages children"

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something a lot of people seem to fail to recognise in these arguements (well, those on the 'gay marriage is an abomination' side) is that if gay marriage is legalised, it doesn't mean that your religion has to start performing gay marriage, especially if it is against that particular religion.

 

All it means is that anyone with the power to marry a couple who isn't against gay marriage can declare the couple married. its not only priests that can marry a couple, plenty of non-religious people can as well.

 

And then the other side of marriage is the status under the law. you get a crapload of legal and financial benefits from being married. some that aren't covered under 'civil partnerships'.

 

i really don't see the fuss. nobodies religion is being hurt, nobody is being forced to do something they don't want to do, just people who love each other are being allowed to say 'we're married' and get the same benefits as others who say the same.

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Also a power grab, I suspect, to exert control. Much like in the movie "The Firm" — "No one's divorced in the firm" and "The firm encourages children"

Indeed. Religion loves to insert and then establish itself as the ultimate benchmark for authority. I suspect that pledges made "under God" (despite the warnings in Matthew that ewmon pointed out) started as a way to strengthen those pledges, and over time church leadership encouraged people to believe that only such pledges were valid and trustworthy.

 

Isn't it interesting how a person's oath isn't good enough without God to punish the forsworn, yet virtually every conservative person I know (Justin included, I'm sure) takes a great deal of pride in telling you that their word is their bond? Actually, when someone tells me their word is their bond, I will generally trust them until they prove otherwise, but when someone swears to God they're telling me the truth, it always makes me suspect their veracity about everything else they've told me. ;)

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I can understand the outrage of not being included in an institution when that institution is recognized by law, and given rights that are denied to others, but shouldn't the passing of civil union rights that encompasses the same body as a marriage be sufficient enough without having to impede on someone's religion?

 

 

Why shouldn't a religion or church that allows marriage between same sex couples be allowed to do so? Why should your definition of religion be the defining one?

 

In my state recently the Religious fundamentalists passed a constitutional amendment that prohibits same sex marriage, The protection of marriage act, that same amendment also prohibits civil unions between same sex couples. This far reaching amendment also inter fears with civil unions between male female couples.

 

The reality of the situation has nothing to do with protecting marriage, and it has everything to do with religious fundamentalists taking away the rights of one segment of the population for no reason what so ever other than forcing their definition of religion on everyone else, in fact a specific subset of the Christian religion has done this.

 

Same sex marriage was already illegal, but the trend of some Churches marrying same sex couples anyway infuriated the the fundies and for no reason what so ever other than to take away legal rights of gay people and to show they had the power to do so they amended the constitution to take rights away from one section of the population, basically the people who didn't believe the same way the fundies did.

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I can understand the outrage of not being included in an institution when that institution is recognized by law, and given rights that are denied to others, but shouldn't the passing of civil union rights that encompasses the same body as a marriage be sufficient enough without having to impede on someone's religion?

No, it's not sufficient enough. Just because religion wants to come along and make the ceremony religious does not mean religion should get to have the institution of marriage all to itself. Marriage existed before the church just like Yule existed before Christmas. Religion needs to quit hijacking existing traditions and trying to call them religious traditions.

 

Marriage already is and always has been a civil union. It is already a union carried out by Judges and Justices of the Peace whom cannot perform religious ceremonies as acts of government. That churches also carry them out does not make them solely religious. The church needs to quit claiming that which was not the church's to begin with!

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FWIW, Justin... While your OP was littered with false premises and a bunch of conclusions that were rapidly shown to be flawed on numerous accounts, I don't think you were asking or presenting it with either malicious or hateful intent and I personally don't think it should have been so massively and repeatedly neg repped.

 

This is just one man's opinion, though, and it ultimately matters little in the grand scheme of things. I've been profoundly neg repped, too, and I obviously lived to tell the tale. :)

 

Either way, civil unions really are not the right path here for the various reasons already presented. The right path is to eliminate unfounded and baseless bigotries wherever we can, and to do away with discrimination in all its forms. Cheers.

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FWIW, Justin... While your OP was littered with false premises and a bunch of conclusions that were rapidly shown to be flawed on numerous accounts, I don't think you were asking or presenting it with either malicious or hateful intent and I personally don't think it should have been so massively and repeatedly neg repped.

 

This is just one man's opinion, though, and it ultimately matters little in the grand scheme of things. I've been profoundly neg repped, too, and I obviously lived to tell the tale. :)

 

Either way, civil unions really are not the right path here for the various reasons already presented. The right path is to eliminate unfounded and baseless bigotries wherever we can, and to do away with discrimination in all its forms. Cheers.

 

...why are you being so cordial and agreeable? :huh:

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