This is where the gay marriage battle should be fought

The New York Times today has a headline story that a group of conservative Episcopalian bishops is breaking away from the mainstream church because of objections to the church’s stand on gay marriage:

Conservatives disaffected from the Episcopal Church are expected to declare on Wednesday that they are founding their own rival Anglican province in North America, the biggest challenge yet to the authority of the church in a five-year battle over the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

I am delighted by this story, not because I am siding with one Episcopalian tradition or another in this debate, but because I think it demonstrates perfectly where the battle over gay marriage should be fought — in religious organizations.  Because religion in America is a marketplace, the different denominations can battle the matter out and, if they cannot reach agreement, they can create splinter organizations reflecting doctrinal differences.  Parishioners will follow according to their beliefs.  That’s certainly what the Founders envisioned when they wrote a Constitution that disallows state involvement in religious affairs.

What we’ll eventually see are religious organizations that believe their source documents (the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Koran, etc.) authorize gay marriage, and therefore that sanction such marriages; religious organizations that believe those same source documents do not authorize gay marriage, and that therefore refuse to sanction such marriages; and religious organizations that recognize that the source documents do not countenance gay marriage, but nevertheless believe that their religion properly allows for the uniting of two loving hearts.

These last-mentioned organizations will create new traditions that are some sort of joining ceremony with a religious imprimatur.  People will then select their churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, etc. according to their clearly stated stance on gay marriage (amongst other doctrinal issues), which is the way in should be in a nation committed to freedom of religion.

As for the state, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that it should get out of the “marriage” business altogether.  This does not mean that the state should not sanction partnerships.  It is to the state’s benefit to have people join in stable relationships and start families.  The state will therefore want to continue encouraging couples to join up in permanent relationships — and the encouragement resides in the financial incentives (tax benefits) and life conveniences (intestacy statutes, hospital visits, etc), that automatically flow from a state-recognized relationship.

The state should therefore continue to issue licenses, but these licenses should all be for “civil” unions.  After all, the state is a “civil” entity, and should not be going beyond those parameters.

Having this clear distinction between religiously sanctioned unions (of whatever nature the religion chooses) and state sanctioned unions (which have to provide concrete benefits to the state in terms of societal stability and population maintenance) should prevent entirely a couple of problems.  The first problem is attacks on religion.  A perfect example is the vicious attacks now being launched against the Mormon Church, which encouraged its members to put their money behind traditional marriage.

The second problem right now with the emphasis on changing state definitions of marriage, rather than religious definitions, is the risk that there will be direct challenges between church and state. A lawyer I know assured me that this couldn’t happen because, for example, the Catholic church does not get sued because it opposes abortion.  That was facile reasoning.  While abortions may be a civil right, the Catholic church does not provide abortions.  What the Catholic church provides is communion, which is not a civil right, so the church can withhold it at will.  What happens, though, when the church provides something which is both a core doctrinal belief (marriage) and a state right (marriage)?  It’s a head-on collision, and I can guarantee you that the courts will get involved and that some activist judge will state that the Catholic Church is constitutionally required to marry gay couples.

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Comments

  1. rockdalian says

    I believe the objective of the gay movement is no less than the total destruction of religion.
    The fact that California already has civil unions as an option has not altered the gay agenda in California.
    Remember this:

    The Boston Archdiocese’s Catholic Charities said Friday it would stop providing adoption services because state law requires them to consider gays and lesbians as parents.

    http://tinyurl.com/r4quh

    Now there is this looming controversy over the Freedom of Choice Act.

    Now that Barack Obama has been elected president, pro-life and pro-abortion groups are waiting to see if he will keep his campaign promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) into law and if faith-based hospitals and health care facilities will be forced to perform abortions or risk losing federal funding – a loss that could result in some health care providers closing their doors.

    http://www.cc.org/news/faithbased_hospitals_could_close_if_obama_signs_freedom_choice_act

    Add the controversy over the morning after pill and the lack of a faith based opt out.

    Three pro-life pharmacists have been fired for their refusal to fill a prescription for the so-called morning after pill. The action has revived the debate over whether pharmacists should be able to opt out of filling orders for drugs that can or do cause abortions.

    http://www.lifenews.com/nat336.html

    There are many more facets of the continued assault on religion.

  2. Charles Martel says

    I hope that the activist judge who decrees from the bench that the Catholic Church must wed gay couples has one thick bullet-proof vest.

    That bastard will get his black-robed arse handed to him by more than just a bunch of angry papists.

  3. cottus says

    Just got through reading “The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605″ by Antonia Fraser. Charles Martel’s comment + what 10 men can do to the city of Bombay (I can call it anything I like and I will and we should) + the sorts of skills and access to hardware that resides in the Anglican Community* = imagine the possibilities. But then again we are Anglicans + I’m positive the Holy Father would not approve.

    *The Episcopal Church in Pasadena had a stained glass window with a portrait of Gen. Patton and a tank. I’m sure it’s gone now, probably replaced by one with a portrait of the ‘martyr’ Harvey Milk with gay angels ascending.

  4. Mike Devx says

    Book,
    I think you’re on solid legal ground with your argument, but I agree with your prior position, that civil society has a long-standing tradition, over thousands of years, of honoring marriage as between a man and a woman.

    >> The state should therefore continue to issue licenses, but these licenses should all be for “civil” unions. >>

    I continue to think that a marriage license, for a man and a woman, is of great value to society and shouldn’t be “disappeared”. I wouldn’t object to allowing a civil union certificate – but only via the votes of the citizens, and only by state – but I wouldn’t object if the voters turned that down either. For me, it’s an issue of what kind of society the people choose to live in. (And no, marriage is not a civil right – I think you still agree that it isn’t, Book?)

    My approach on conservative philosophy is that you discard tradition only if it is broken. Civil society recognizes the huge benefits of marriage between a man and a woman, for the purpose of both stable relationships and the raising of children in a traditional household. I guess I’m not moving from that long-held position.

  5. Ymarsakar says

    It’s a head-on collision, and I can guarantee you that the courts will get involved and that some activist judge will state that the Catholic Church is constitutionally required to marry gay couples.

    Gay activists have been using a couple of Alinsky tactics. Don’t tolerate compromise, make sure that there is backlash against minorities with your population, use that backlash to get more power and support, and so forth.

  6. Ymarsakar says

    If gay activists can create backlash from the Church, then those gay activists can convince the grassroots gays that they will only be accepted by society if they demand marriage and marriage from not only secular authorities but religious authorities as well. Gay activists will use the backlash that they themselves created as justification for why gays need to stay the course if they want legal benefits for couples.

    This will have come on the heels of gay activists telling people that civil unions aren’t enough for them because society should accept them as they are, not just the state. This isn’t actually very popular, but it can be made to be popular.

  7. expat says

    Book,

    I’m with Mike on this. It is possible that people with no church affiliation want to preserve the institution of marriage as it has existed. Why should they give up the terms bride and groom? Should they then, as in Spain, become Parent 1 and Parent 2? I think marriage is just as much a societal institution as a sacrament. It seems terribly unfair to deprive non-church-goers (or perhaps mixed religion couples) of that tradition.

  8. Mike Devx says

    I had a thought while driving to work: The argument Book poses relies on the importance of liberal judges creating controversy and generally mucking about with the law. Book’s approach attempts to minimize the mischief that liberal judges can cause.

    But liberal judges create havoc with their living, breathing, running, dancing, gyrating, flipping Constitution, in every way they possibly can… not merely on the issue of gay marriage. It’s just that gay marriage is one of the hot button issues. Are we going to kowtow to the liberal judges on every issue, deliberately seeking the least confrontational approach, in repeated attempts to defang them?

  9. says

    Hello Bookworm,

    I find this entire spat over gay rights interesting. Seems to me that conservatives in general are building homosexuals up to be the “enemy absolute”. I keep hearing talk of the “gay fascist” takeover of America and I’m constantly reminded of the “Jew Bolshevik” takeover of Germany. The two words are an oxymoron, and it’s absurd on the face of it.

    Given where the conservatives have gone since the election, with them frothing at the mouth at gays the way liberals froth at President George Bush, in an odd sort of way, I’m almost relieved they didn’t win the election. And I say this even as I have never voted for a Democrat for the Presidency.

    I don’t trust President-elect Obama. I think he’s a Chicago thug who promised everyone the moon if they’d vote for him (it’s that descending light he referenced), but at least his party isn’t pushing for the dispossession of basic human rights to an entire category of people.

    And furthermore, about those vicious attacks on the Mormon Church people are referencing? The Mormon Church was the organization that organized and funded most of Proposition 8 that stripped gays of the right to marry. It was also the Mormon Church who went right into the middle of West Hollywood, gay central in LA, and shouted “abomination” at the gays there.

    So, let me get this straight. Mormons deliberately went to one of a handful of places where gays congregate in America without being attacked, tell them they’re unnatural and abominations before God, and when gays got irate, the Mormons play the victim? The Mormons and conservatives then accuse gays of assaulting Mormonism in their “gay fascist” plot to take over the world?

    That’s absurd.

    How about this comparison. How did the Jews react when the Neo-Nazi’s petitioned to parade up and down their neighborhoods in Michigan that one time?…

  10. Charles Martel says

    And furthermore, about those vicious attacks on the Mormon Church people are referencing? The Mormon Church was the organization that organized and funded most of Proposition 8 that stripped gays of the right to marry. It was also the Mormon Church who went right into the middle of West Hollywood, gay central in LA, and shouted “abomination” at the gays there.

    I wasn’t aware that Mormons went into West Hollywood and shouted “abomination” at homosexuals there. Do you have a link where I could see where this was reported?

    “Stripped gays of the right to marry” — that’s an interesting thing to say. It would be more accurate to say, “stripped them of a recently court-created right to marry someone of the same sex” since gays have always had the same right as the rest of us to marry a member of the opposite sex.

    I notice that people who carry on about gays losing the “right” to marry gloss over how this “right” came to be. Apparently, four Californians with law degrees turned out not only to be smarter and more moral than every lawmaker who ever came before them, they had ESP: They KNEW that when the people made laws guaranteeing equal protection under the law that somewhere in there was the intent to “protect” homosexuals by letting them marry one another.

    Before these demigods in black robes gifted us with their insight, no philosophers of note, no great intellectuals, no serious moral teachers had ever argued for the “right” of people to marry their same-sex partners in sodomy. It just didn’t occur to them.

    But, thank God, we live in an era when four of the greatest minds that ever lived are among us, able to discern previously unperceived rights and bestow them upon us via judicial fiat.

    I bow before my intellectual — and moral — superiors.

  11. says

    Of course, Mr. Martel, no philosopher of note ever mounted an argument that it is one’s right to wear clothes of the color black before either. Of course, hypothetically speaking, if tribal customs have it that one does not wear the color black out of a long-standing tradition of non-black wearers, some poor denizen is bound to query after the conspicuous lack of black clothes (just before a colorful mob stomps him under in a self-righteous fury, that is). The outlawing of black clothes isn’t stated in any law, any constitution, and is a standing tradition dating before… well, who can say?

    Understanding the curious nature of the problem, and noting that the ostracized few who have a certain obstinate predilection to wear black clothes are being physically beaten everywhere except in a handful of enclosed ghettos, some on the judiciary and legislative branch decided to treat black wearers just as though they were non-black wearers, which, of course, implies that black clothes are just the same as color wearers under the eyes of the law.

    Outraged color wearers pointed to the letter of the law and declared, “Nowhere does it state in the law that you can wear black. How dare you say that people can wear black? They have no right to wear black!”

    Mr. Charles, one does not know one has the right to wear black until it is actively forbidden to wear it. And where, you ask, does this right come from? Certainly not from the people, and most definitely from any polity.

    One might do well to re-read the beginning second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence to see where that right comes from.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

    Rights do not come from men, but God. That was one of the main thrusts of the American Revolution and of the Social Contract.

    But if one is insistent that the right to wear black clothes must be legislated on, then one does have the right to have that opinion, though I doubt that that right would be enumerated in the law books. You’d hard notice that until… well, it’s taken away, right?

  12. Ymarsakar says

    Seems to me that conservatives in general are building homosexuals up to be the “enemy absolute”.

    That’s what the ysaid about conservatives and blacks. In reality, it was the Dems doing the setup work entirely.

  13. suek says

    Black is not white. By definition, it cannot be. What you wish to call “marriage” between two members of the same sex simply is, by definition, not. Square circle, and that sort of thing. It has nothing to do with equality or rights, it has to do with the meaning of the words we use.

    The relationship between members of the same sex cannot be marriage. It can be loving, permanent and individually a wonderful thing, but it cannot be marriage. It is simply something else.

  14. says

    Y,

    What? I never said that about conservatives and blacks? I’m actually saddened that blacks view conservatives as anathema, even though conservatives have tried to reach out to them as a group. This, of course, makes the black community unwitting dupes for the Democratic Party.

    I don’t know who you’re referring to Y, but it is not me.

  15. says

    You are correct, suek. Black is not white. But we’ve been ringing around this rosy before, haven’t we?

    Heck, we can call it whatever you want, just as long as the conservatives drop this “gay fascist” rhetoric and acknowledge the right of these kinds of humans to exist. Once you deny someone the simple acknowledgment that they can exist (the opposite of nonexistence), you tread on very, very dangerous ground. One can argue about the law until one is blue in the face, but it is a moot point if one doesn’t not concede the right of someone to exist.

  16. suek says

    >>“gay fascist” >>

    Ok, Thomas. Here’s the deal. There are unquestionably well intentioned individuals who simply want what they perceive to be their rights to live their life in a manner that suits them, even if society objects. These people may be a pain in the neck, but they’re not facists. On the other hand, there are people who are trying to ram through laws or interpretations of laws in an effort to deny other people who think differently from them the right to do exactly that. For example, your statement:

    >>The Mormon Church was the organization that organized and funded most of Proposition 8 that stripped gays of the right to marry. It was also the Mormon Church who went right into the middle of West Hollywood, gay central in LA, and shouted “abomination” at the gays there.>>

    “The Mormon Church was the organization that organized and funded most of Proposition 8 that stripped gays of the right to marry.” Leaving aside the “right to marry” question, why shouldn’t the Mormon Church organize and fund this proposition? Didn’t gays organize and fund efforts to deny it? Wouldn’t it be facist to deny either group of that right?

    “It was also the Mormon Church who went right into the middle of West Hollywood, gay central in LA, and shouted “abomination” at the gays there.”
    And gays have picketed Mormon churches. So what? it’s called “freedom of speech”. Would you choose to deny the Mormons the right to shout at gays? If so, what right to gays have to shout at Mormons? or any other citizens?

    I think that there _are_ those who would use the activist gay position to further enable the effort to destroy the authority of churches in this country, and many of those political activists I _would_ consider facists.

  17. says

    suek,

    With all due respect, I think the churches are doing a fine job of destroying their own credibility on their own. Just look at the leaders of the churches and what the churches are spouting out there. Many, if not most, Protestant churches are offering warmed over New Age, self-help palaver mixed in with politics. They don’t need the help of gay activists to destroy their authority at the moment.

    You wrote,”why shouldn’t the Mormon Church organize and fund this proposition? Didn’t gays organize and fund efforts to deny it? Wouldn’t it be facist to deny either group of that right?”

    This is the fundamental divide in our two positions, suek. By the implication of your very statement, you don’t think gays have the right to exist. One does not have the right to exist if one’s existence can be legislated or ruled away by judicial decision. The right to exist is inalienable, unassailable.

    By your reasoning, you are saying that one group has the sovereign right to campaign to deny another group parts of their humanity just so long as the other group can campaign to stop it.

    This is madness, suek.

    I think that conservatives are wrong if they think that these kinds of acts won’t have repercussions on them later on.

    If lessons of Nazi Germany are simply, “Don’t take the toast oven of your Jewish neighbor once they’ve been turned out. And Don’t kill Jews”; or if they think that that madness that overcome all of Germany was only a German quirk or a quirk of history; or that such bestiality can only come up against Jews, gypsies and the mentally impaired… they haven’t learned a darn thing.

    Our culture may say that it is okay to treat gays as aberrant humans worthy of scorn, but such behaviors, taken out to their logic ends, will also make the persecutor the persecuted later on. As odd as this sounds, the gestapo officers were just as imprisoned as the people they preyed upon because they would constantly fear the false accusations that they processed would be visited upon them.

    This “boomerang effect” is simply a verity of life.

  18. says

    suek,

    (Sigh.) No, suek, I’m afraid you don’t. But that’s okay…

    I never called you a facist, and I’m pretty upset that you did… and now I remember why I don’t come around here anymore.

    And, suek, if I am what you call a facist, and if you meant what you said, that words and their definitions matter, then I wish you well when the real facist come. God bless you, suek, and adios.

  19. Charles Martel says

    This is the fundamental divide in our two positions, suek. By the implication of your very statement, you don’t think gays have the right to exist. One does not have the right to exist if one’s existence can be legislated or ruled away by judicial decision. The right to exist is inalienable, unassailable.

    By your reasoning, you are saying that one group has the sovereign right to campaign to deny another group parts of their humanity just so long as the other group can campaign to stop it.

    suek, I’ve read and reread your statements and cannot see anywhere where you don’t think homosexuals have the right to exist. Perhaps Thomas is conflating the right to exist with the right to redefine marriage to become something nonsensical. But I certainly don’t see how resisting a pressure group’s desire to legitimize an aberrant form of sexuality is equivalent to denying its right to exist.

    Maybe I missed out on the logic class that Thomas took.

    Also, he seems to believe that a court can pull a new right out of its collective arse. Since Thomas also claims that God is the originator of rights, two thoughts occur:

    1. The California Supremes created this “right” out of whole cloth without once referring to God.

    2. Where has God ever referred to the “right” of homosexuals to marry one another? I can’t find any sacred text anywhere that has God/The Force/My Innermost Me saying so.

    Is this a new revelation? Perhaps Thomas is hearing voices?

  20. Ymarsakar says

    you don’t think gays have the right to exist.

    The US Constitution provides for a basic principle of allowing the maximum freedom, except where your freedom impacts other people’s life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

    Suek’s views on gays, including the views of all main religious organizations (including Mormons), do not impact on the rights of gays.

  21. Ymarsakar says

    2. Where has God ever referred to the “right” of homosexuals to marry one another? I can’t find any sacred text anywhere that has God/The Force/My Innermost Me saying so.

    It will also be hard to try to usurp European Enlightenment history to back up gay activism due to the pogroms and violent street thuggery that have been used to target Mormons.

    Gays are human too and thus applies under Enlightenment philosophy, but that doesn’t give them the right to foment unrest in order to use intimidation as a political tool.

  22. Ymarsakar says

    What? I never said that about conservatives and blacks?

    I was making a rebuttal of your argument concerning Republican or conservative trends on focusing on gays as the enemy. That is the same argument the Left has used before, and it is just as erroneous either way.

    You don’t need to have said anything of the sort, just like the Jews didn’t need to have said anything about gays nor Neo-Nazis compared directly with their counter-parts in your argument.

  23. rockdalian says

    Thomas said:

    I don’t trust President-elect Obama. I think he’s a Chicago thug who promised everyone the moon if they’d vote for him (it’s that descending light he referenced), but at least his party isn’t pushing for the dispossession of basic human rights to an entire category of people.

    Perhaps Thomas missed the part of the campaign where Obama said he was against gay marriage.

    Barack Obama on Gay Marriage
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73oZ_pe1MZ8

    Also notice the loaded rhetoric Thomas uses to describe people that do not agree with him.

    frothing at the mouth at gays

    and

    shouted “abomination” at the gays there.

    As I pointed out in my original post, civil unions were created in California.

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