Today there are two very important cases being discussed at the US Supreme Court. Whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed under President Clinton is constitutional. It’s not, and Clinton has publicly said as much recently. And whether California’s Prop 8, which bans gay marriage, is discriminatory with be discussed as well.
It has long been my contention that the discussion of marriage equality for non heterosexual couples is largely hindered my nomenclature. The meaning of the word marriage is doing (at least) double duty. I propose we retire the word and replace it with two others: r-marriage and g-marriage. Or minimally, footnote our discussions to clarify what it is we are saying when we say “marriage”.
For millennia there has been r-marriage. Marriage within a religious context. It is sacred, and for many it is a bond before god that will not be broken until the death of one of the members.
For several hundred years we’ve been living under law that attempts to separate church and state. Despite that we have legally defined g-marriage, Government Marriage. This is something that requires government documents, and government fees, and when the relationship is terminated more government fees and documents, and perhaps facilitation by government judges.
There are hundreds of other rights conferred to people who are g-married. These rights have nothing to do with religion; they could mostly be boiled down to fiscal issues. These are the rights that are under debate.
No one is trying to change anything regarding r-marriage. Churches will not be forced to marry anyone they believe is unworthy before god to be married. No one!
I question whether the government should even acknowledge marriage. I would abolish it. But that’s a radical point of view. As mentioned, there are hundreds of laws referencing these 2-person bondings. Removing the g-marriage concept would effect all these historical laws. Indeed I wonder if the limit of the relationship to 2 people will continue in the distant future.
But there is no doubt the laws conferred by our secular legal system should not be confined by the moral codes of any religion. Accordingly, there is absolutely no reason to restrict g-marriage on r-marriage’s standards. Any two people should be able to marry under the eyes of our government, and under the eyes (or not) of any god they espouse.
When you hear people arguing about this issue, try to mentally flag when they’re using the word to mean one thing or the other.