Omnibus: What is marriage — really? - Eastern Arizona Courier: Editorials

Omnibus: What is marriage — really?

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Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 4:30 am

How have we come to the point that the question of persons of the same sex marrying each other clamors to be heard in the public square? Advocates demand “marriage equality,” the right to marry whomever they please.

First of all, is marriage a right? No, a right does not require a license. Privileges, such as driving a motor vehicle or hunting, require a person to buy a license and meet certain standards. We need no license, we pay no fee and need meet no requirement to exercise the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nor do we need a license to possess arms, although some states define bearing a concealed arm as a privilege and require a test and a license.

Marriage inherently involves the area of sexual activity. For many, that fact raises issues of morality. Progressives may hold the opinion that each person determines what is moral or immoral for him or her, and that traditional religious views on homosexuality have no place in government policy, whereas conservatives tend to hold to the traditional and biblical view.

I lived in Mexico long enough to learn something about marriage in that country. Marriage in Mexico is recognized by the government only if it is solemnized by a government official. If the parties to the marriage choose to also have a religious ceremony, they may do so, but to the government that is all it is — a ceremony. It has no legal standing.

Oct. 26, 2006, my wife and I served as witnesses at the marriage of a couple of friends in Boca del Rio, state of Veracruz. Before he pronounced the words actually performing the marriage, the judge read a discourse on the institution of marriage and the duties it involves, spouse-to-spouse and parents-to-children, as well as the relationship of the family to the state and to society. Not a word mentioned God or religion, but there was a clear message that marriage is between a man and a woman, for the purpose of providing a stable home for the rearing of children who will be good citizens. Two persons of the same sex obviously cannot produce children.

The U.S. Constitution is silent on marriage, leaving it to the states to determine age requirements and other specifics, pursuant to Amendment X. That would seem to leave the door open for each state to decide the question of same-sex “marriage” as the voters of that state prefer. The rub there is that the Constitution does state: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State . . .”  Article IV, Section 1.  

What this means in everyday life is that my Missouri birth certificate, my Texas marriage record and my Arizona driver license have to be honored in the other 49 states. Foreseeing the situation in which a state would legalize same-sex “marriage,” and that individuals would have such a “public Act” or “judicial Proceeding” performed and then demand that another state grant “[f]ull Faith and Credit” to such, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a vote of 342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate, and President Clinton (hardly a prudish or puritanical figure) signed it into law in 1996.

DOMA defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and declares that no state has to recognize same-sex marriage. Thirty-six states have similar state laws. Despite the fact that the duties of president include “. . . [H]e shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed . . .” (Article II, Section 3), the Obama administration has refused to enforce DOMA or even to defend it in court when it was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court in Boston on May 31 of this year.

Ken Blackwell, professor of law, has declared: “Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The fundamental institution of human civilization should be preserved as it has been known through the entirety of American history and Western civilization.”

Columnist Don Feder has written: “Surrender on gay marriage is surrender on marriage  which is surrender on the family and, ultimately, surrender on civilization.

Unfortunately, many conservative intellectuals have lost sight of a crucial fact: American exceptionalism rests on three pillars:  faith, family and freedom. Remove any one, and the entire structure collapses.”

Arguably, DOMA is unconstitutional, given the “full faith and credit” clause. However, it is worth noting that the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which outlawed the Mormon practice of polygamy, was upheld by the Supreme Court, notwithstanding the Constitution’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion and prohibition of ex post facto laws.

There is a case to be made for legal recognition of households consisting of persons of the same sex. There are questions of health insurance, authorized sick leave to care for another person and similar concerns. We may imagine two brothers who share a home, for example. Or the persons involved may not be related, but for one reason or another they choose to share a domicile. I do not need to know what, if anything, goes on behind closed doors. Some form of domestic partnership may well be appropriate, but it is not a marriage.

Abraham Lincoln, when frustrated by a man who seemed to be making dubious assertions, is said to have asked, “How many legs does a cow have?” The other man, taken aback by the unexpected turn, replied, “Why, four, of course.” “That’s right,” agreed Lincoln. “Now, suppose I call her tail a leg. How many would she have?” “Five,” came the reply. “No, that’s where you’re wrong,” retorted Lincoln. “Calling a cow’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

Calling a same-sex living arrangement a marriage does not make that arrangement a marriage.

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Welcome to the discussion.

6 comments:

  • deadbroke posted at 3:10 pm on Tue, Oct 2, 2012.

    deadbroke Posts: 31

    Devils42, you are certainly entitled to your beliefs and I respect that. However, you have no right to force your beliefs upon others. Enacting laws prohibiting homosexual marriage is forcing christian believes upon someone. Anything between two consenting adults the government has no business being involved with. No one is harmed, they may be offended but they are not harmed.

    To the author, many learned men have said many things through out the years. Time and time again they are found to be wrong by later generations. Our founding fathers left many things out of the constitution because they could not agree. They did agree that we have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If being married makes a homosexual couple happy, who has the right to say they can't?

     
  • Jeff posted at 9:47 pm on Fri, Sep 14, 2012.

    Jeff Posts: 6

    @ Devils42: I responded to your post; however, the Courier apparently censored it [ohmy]. It contained no profanity which leaves me puzzled at what the Courier defines as 'free speech' [ban] sorry

     
  • Devils42 posted at 7:00 am on Tue, Sep 11, 2012.

    Devils42 Posts: 6

    To Jeff, ST and Man of Mystery
    Lets think about the things you have just stated. Jeff its funny how you talk about religious bigotry but when someone believes in God and his plan and homosexuality is not in that plan you call us bigots when in fact it is a belief that we have, its not bigotry. It doesn't mean we hate homosexuals just we don't believe in it. I don't believe in adultry either so am I a bigot to adulterers. ST you say how is the issue of same sex marriage involves the survival of species well in my beliefs if it were to men or two women together on this earth at the beginning we would not be here today so without reproduction our species would be gone and I don't think two people of the same sex can create children. Man of Mystery I beg to differ becasue Marriage is the most sacrade bond in the world if more people thought that it was we would be in alot better place. I do agree that we should be good to all people you are right there but how about letting some people keep their values sacred without being looked at like we are the ones that are keeping the homosexuals down I don't believe in it so why would I justify it. Just an opinion.

     
  • Man Of Mystery posted at 7:16 pm on Wed, Sep 5, 2012.

    Man Of Mystery Posts: 2

    Marriage is is a government benefit. To deny same sex marriage is the same as denying the right to own property based on race or creed. There's certainly nothing sacred about marriage in Arizona. You have more legal rights in a business partnership than you do in a marriage in Arizona. No matter what the other party does, in violation of any vows, they are entitled to half of everything acquired during the marriage without any contribution on their part. No religion is perfect just look at the so called holy wars of the 11 and 12 centuries, temple vows against the US to avenge the death of Joseph Smith and the back sliding televangelists that purchased their sins of the flesh. Bottom line, we are all human an from the same source. It's time to join together as one humanity and accept each other as a true equal. (The temple oath was omitted in 1927)
    What ever happened to the Christian commandment of 'Love one another as I have loved you'? You would be surprised at the homosexuals you see each and every day. Be tolerant and others will be tolerant of you as well.[wink]

     
  • ST posted at 6:27 pm on Wed, Sep 5, 2012.

    ST Posts: 5

    More yammering about the "real" definition of marriage as if it's something defined by natural sciences or other forces beyond our control. The entire problem with your article is that you have no concept of cultural diversity and believe that everyone ultimately has the same values, interests, and basis for social definitions as you do.

    Who says that the law's current definition of "marriage" is the right one? Why isn't "union between two human beings" the right one? Why can't both be allowed, depending on the individual's beliefs? PLEASE tell me how the issue of same sex marriage involves the survival of species. Are straight couples somehow going to be thwarted from reproducing as they normally would? Will disallowing same sex marriage will make any difference in whether homosexuals reproduce, which they are bound not to do no matter what the laws are?

    The last line of your article shows how convinced you are that your opinions are indisputable facts. Fortunately society has been progressing and people like yourself will have to surrender to the fact that not everyone has the same needs or values as you do.

     
  • Jeff posted at 1:31 pm on Wed, Sep 5, 2012.

    Jeff Posts: 6

    The religious bigotry against homosexuals never ceases to amaze me. Why do you religious zealots CARE if same sex couples are married? Why would you suppose that a secular government should extend privileges to straight couples but deny those same privileges to GLBT couples? How could that possibly be fairness and justice? The author of this article seems okay with GLBT 'domestic partnerships/civil unions' but is irrationally defensive of the use of the word 'marriage'. Do straight people have a trademark on the word marriage?

    This articles author cites Ken Blackwell and Don Fetter in an attempted argument from authority. Not only are the quotes devoid of honest human history, they are patently ridiculous as well. Homosexuality is found in nearly all other animal species and has been with humanity as long as recorded history. It hasn't brought about the destruction of civilization.

    The religious defense that 'marriage' is for the purpose of procreation is ludicrous as well. Humans were conceived, lived, and died for millennia before the judeo-Christian defition of marriage. Additionally, if marriage is for the sole purpose of procreation, then the Catholic church is correct and birth control is a sin.

    It is plainly obvious that the religious right wing is attempting to force their bronze-age beliefs into a secular government. A marriage is simply another way for the government to bleed money from the populous and not some special dispensation granted to straight people by an invisible man in the sky.