a little east of reality

Thursday, September 25, 2008

rethinking my views on marriage

Sometimes you need a couple of days to think before you get a little more clarity. This post is actually a comment I added to my post on why I am opposed to Proposition 8, but I decided to post it properly (and I have reworked it a little as new thoughts have occurred to me). I'm not sure that even now I've come to some final decision ~ not on the Proposition (I definitely oppose that) but on the term marriage and how it is and should or shouldn't be represented in the law. Anyway, here it is...

How very interesting. I've just realised that I contradicted myself. In the post I described marriage as a deep and lasting bond that requires the fullness of the law to express but considering MoJo's comment I decided that if a civil union granted recognition as a couple (and all that entails legally) that whatever marriage ceremony the couple chose to have after that could be meaningless in the law.

I'd edit it, but that's kind of cheating, no? :) I guess it's more accurate to say that I believe there should be a way to express that you want to be bonded under the law and that aspect for me is about more than religion. It also about recognition of that bond by your society and of course the wider more boring recognitions that exist such as in tax and inheritance law and the like. I have called that bond marriage before and it still feels right to call it that, even if I am talking about a wholly non-religious legal union.

I know that some people see marriage as being a partnership between a (straight) couple and their God, but we live in too diverse societies for that to be the limit of the definition. I don't believe that it lessens marriage to use the word non-religiously. It has no less meaning in a religious context if someone else defines it differently from their own (different) religious or non-religious perspective. That's interesting to me, to realise that. I wrote the original post quickly because I was angry and I'm now maybe rethinking some of my own points.

I still do think that it is illogical and counter-productive to treat people who value the concept of marriage as if they are destroying it, and I definitely think that such a partnership should be labelled consistently in law - not marriage for some and civil union for others. Maybe it should be called civil union for all and marriage should be preserved for ceremonies with romantic and/or religious (but not legal) significance. Maybe it should be called marriage for all and any other meaning assigned to it is a matter for the individual couple and their religions if applicable.

Proposition 8 is definitely doing one thing I think is wrong - treating marriage as a religious term that can only be defined in one way. I say that not because the proposition mentions religion, but because the source of the desire to define marriage in the law as only being 'between a man and a woman' is a vocal few who see the term as a religious one imbued with only one meaning.

I think that that perspective divides the religious from the non-religious under the law (without any recognition that straight couples are deemed to fit that 'acceptable' profile, with no requirement to actually be at all religious). It also divides mainstream Christian religion from other religions or belief systems where marriage may be defined differently and yet be just as meaningful to those who choose to participate in it. True religious freedom cannot exist where one religious viewpoint is privileged in the law and civil (and sometimes human) rights take a beating in that scenario, too.

And in a related note...to all those California Mormons supporting Proposition 8, remember there is a reason that Alma the Younger resigned his post as chief judge in order to preach to the people. It's a little thing we like to call separation of church and state. His dual roles as chief judge and religious leader were not interconnected. So stop thinking that the church you belong to should define the status of others under the law...yes, even if the prophet said otherwise. Definitions under the law should reflect everyone's rights. There is nothing there that is going to change how Mormons define marriage in religious terms ~ civil marriage ALREADY differs from temple marriage in concept and wording. So marriage is already defined differently in law to the meaning that the LDS church assigns to it. Allowing the legal definition to reflect the broader and diverse society religious and other freedoms create is not going to hurt you or your marriages. Please bear that in mind when you vote on this issue.

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