Friday, June 09, 2006
going to the chapel...
I've had some feelings of discomfort for a number of years now whenever I sign a wedding license. I find myself feeling odd about being an agent of the state when I am supposed to be representing a community of faith. At the same time, it is wonderful to be a part of two people declaring their love and their commitment in the context of their faith community and before God... which brings me to the issue of the so-called "marriage amendment."
First off I am disgusted by the Republicans for introducing this issue when they know it will not pass (and likely don't want it to!). It seems nothing more than a cynical attempt to mobilize a part of the their constituency.
Second, the arguments used are almost always religious ones and this dances very close to impinging on my freedom of religion.
Third, what business does the state have dictating religious issues?
So what should we do? I think the state should do away with marriage as a legal category completely. Let it do what it does - recognize a contract between two people that includes rules about how property is divided and defines a number of responsibilities that they share including medical care for one another, child rearing issues, etc. Call it what it is - a civil union. The state has no role in marriage as a religious/moral institution. Frankly I don't care what gender the parties are when they enter into this contract.
Communities of faith would then perform weddings as what they are - a covenant between two people in the context of their faith community before God, using whatever criteria that community deems appropriate. Clergy would no longer be a part of the legal contract, only the moral/religious one.
Many folk would do both, go to the courthouse and enter into a civil union and then have a wedding in their community of faith. Many others would skip the wedding because it would hold little meaning for them and would be seen as unnecessary. In my estimation this would strengthen marriage as those who entered into it would be truly committed to it. Those not so committed could still enjoy the benefits of a legal relationship with the protections it affords.