The issue of whether Marriage is a civic institution which should be available to all consenting adult or a religious institution with theological restrictions is one of those debates that just won’t go away, no matter how bizarre it might seem. It’s been a major source of stress in my family and in many others. For me, it’s never even been a question which side of the debate I’m on.
For a long time I was resolved not to get married as long as gay folks were legally barred from being married. I wouldn’t eat at a racially segregated lunch counter, I wouldn’t do business or associate with someone who abuses their wife or girlfriend, and participating in a segregated institution falls into the same category. When the California Supreme court agreed with me and overturned the ban that Prop 22 had put into place I was overjoyed and felt like maybe there was hope for California at least. It wasn’t the reason I proposed to my wife shortly afterwards, but if it hadn’t happened we’d still be happily living in sin. So when Prop-8 passed based on a campaign of lies and misinformation funded by out of state religious conservatives, I was not pleased. Cancelling our wedding was of course not an option so we went ahead with it; but I had a number of heated arguments with conservative family members on the topic and seriously considered not inviting any of them to the wedding. Perhaps fortunately, my wife is more forgiving then I am and insisted that my parents be allowed to attend.
It’s not just the homophobic bigotry of the anti-gay marriage camp that bothers me, I expect that from folks on the religious right. It’s the fact that they’ve managed to transform a civic institution into a religious one and then have the gall to claim they’re being oppressed when people object. Far from being the defenders of a “traditional” definition of marriage, the anti-gay marriage crowd is seeking to radically redefine the definition of marriage from being a civil institution available to everyone regardless of religious belief to being a religious institution governed by a specific interpretation of a specific religion. I’m an atheist. I’m married to an atheist. “God” plays zero role in our relationship or our marriage. So why should someone else be allowed to redefine my marriage as a religious institution without my consent? Why is their faith in any way relevant to me or to anyone else who wants to get married? It’s not just an attack on gay folks, it’s an attack on every married couple in the state.
I believe church’s have the absolute right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages or inter-racial marriages or whatever if their theology holds that such unions are sinful. Bigotry is repulsive, but it’s also constitutionally protected. But they have no right at all to prevent other churches that don’t impose such restrictions from performing marriages between consenting adults. Why should the Mormons or the Baptists be able to dictate what the Episcopalians or the Unitarians do in their own houses of worship? And where in the hell do they get off putting restrictions on civil marriages where religion plays no role or (in my case) is intentionally and explicitly excluded? By doing so they’re actively imposing on other people’s freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. It’s blatantly unconstitutional.
Wanna worship Yaweh, Allah, Thor, the Morrigan, or a flying spaghetti monster? Go for it! Worried about your Thetan count? I sincerely wish you the best of luck! It’s none of my business. Everyone has the absolute right to believe whatever feels right to them. No one has the right to impose those beliefs on others without consent. This is basic stuff. How is it still controversial?