Home > Homosexuality > Separation of church and state except regarding Proposition 8

Separation of church and state except regarding Proposition 8

Continuing to write about my opinion on recent political events, I turn my attention on international matters to a more domestic affair: the overturning of Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. I have long held the view that:

  • Religious institutions have no right to impose their views into secular institutions while claiming separation of church and state, and
  • A majority group should not determine the lives of a minority group if it has no direct effect on the majority’s daily lives

I do know that it’s an uphill battle to keep the ruling overturned and that supporters of Prop 8 will do their damndest to “protect the institution of marriage” for as long as they possibly can.

Quite frankly, however, Prop 8, federal amendments banning same-sex marriage, and the prevention of even civil unions is bigotry, pure and simple. Members of the LGBT community are seen as inferior to heterosexuals and therefore, are made to suffer by not even granting them the simple right to legally marry.

The Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Prop 8 and other same-sex marriage bans across the country (or conversely, the denial of allowing gays to legally marry) is in direct contradiction to this clause. Some might argue that this clause applies only to black people and is framed by the historicity of the post-Civil War era. However, this is the only explicit mention of equality granted for ALL citizens (born or naturalized) in the United States.

Judges who rule in favor of same-sex marriage aren’t necessarily playing favorites despite rumblings that Judge Vaughn Walker, who recently overturned Prop 8, is gay; it’s a matter of striking down any law that cuts a citizen off from a privilege of the United States—the privilege of being able to legally marry in a court of law—and forbidding the deprivation of the liberty to marry and receive all the benefits that come with marriage, in accordance with the second sentence of the Equal Protection Clause. Any judge who upholds bans on same-sex marriage is not acting in accordance with this clause and is, in fact, betraying his or her own bias in the ruling. No one is guaranteed the right to marry in the United States but all citizens are guaranteed the ability to enjoy the same privileges as one another. Denying that legal ability to any group is inequality, and under the U.S. Constitution as amended, an injustice.

So when I hear of organizations like the National Organization for Marriage that fight so desperately to maintain marriage between one woman and one man in a secular country (despite talk that it was founded on Christian principles—whatever—the U.S is not a theocracy), my blood begins to boil. If the sole purpose of organizations like this was to prevent religious institutions from having to perform gay marriages in an effort to maintain separation of church and state, then fine. But if the point is to lay some kind of hold on marriage in the secular realm as well then it’s promoting inequality—something I refuse to stand for as an American citizen and as a Christian.

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  1. August 7, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    kass,

    i was sitting here, trying to leave you a comment about your most recent post, when you left me a comment on my blog!

    i have temporarily deactivated my facebook account. so neither one of us defriended the other. 🙂 i’ll be back later, i was just spending too much time on it, so i was giving myself a time-out. 🙂

    what a funny dream! right now, kendall’s current song that she’s singing is the opening song to “little einsteins,” a show on disney. not quite as impressive as “in christ alone.” we’ll have to work on that.

    i have so many thoughts about this blog entry, but i’m not sure how to word it. eloquence is not my thing. so to keep it short, i completely disagree with you. 🙂 lol.

    • Kass
      August 7, 2010 at 11:43 AM

      That’s okay. I don’t expect most of my Christians friends to.

      I think the important thing, for me, which I guess I failed to mention is that I’m not looked down upon as any less of a Christian because of my stance in light of Anne Rice’s break from “Christianity.”

  2. August 7, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    i know we don’t know each other personally, but just know that. we have differing opinions, that’s all.

  3. August 7, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Well, you know I definitely agree that this is an area of secular jurisdiction and an area of equal protection. And I feel the need to state for the record, that my opinion about the role of the state in allowing or disallowing same-sex marriage is formed entirely upon my view of the state and has been carefully formed separate from my feelings and thoughts on homosexuality. This is definitely an area where feelings are often very high and viewpoints based on firmly held beliefs. However, when it comes to civil marriage, it is the right of the state to define what that is in such as way that a) benefits the equal protection of the whole society and b) endeavors to protect minority groups.

    This very issue demonstrates why I feel there is great danger in viewing America and American law as some sort of application of the Bible in politics, a modern-day Israel, if you will. The Founders (TM) and the Constitutional Congress could have done a lot of things. For all intents and purposes, they had come from/descended from immigrant from a politically and legislatively Christian nation. People who read this may guffaw, but it’s true. England’s politics and governance was legally bound to the Anglican Church (and still is, though they have taken steps to move toward greater separation). The Founders (TM) understood in a way that modern Conservatives don’t seem to see all the many, many problems that come along with that. They could have written a great many things into the Constitution; they could have established the government as tied to religion; they could have listed scripture in the Constitution to defend their points. They did not. They understood that in order for religion to be practiced freely, it needed to be completely separate from the state; and for the state to function freely as a protector of minorities and an enactor of what is best for all of society’s freedoms, it needed to be completely separate from any institution of organized religion. And while individual legislators and voters may inform their votes with their beliefs and morals (provided they are not in direct conflict with what is standing legality), it is not the place of judges or of government as a whole to seek to apply any particular religious or moral compunction. Instead, the judge is to examine new laws or actions in the light of standing laws; the government to ensure that each person’s liberty does not negatively harm someone else’s.

    Yeesh. That was long. Can you tell I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest? haha. That said, I know, as you do, that many people will disagree with my stance on this. I also know that I’m more liberal than most people I know. And that’s fine. I understand where they’re coming from, I just don’t agree with it anymore. haha. *wonders how heated the comments will get on this* 🙂

    • Kass
      August 7, 2010 at 8:03 PM

      Well, you have the author’s backing so it probably won’t get too bad. Most people probably won’t argue anyway and just think that we’re wrong and move on.

      Our sentiments are not popular Christian thought but that’s OK as long as no one tries to tell me I’m not a believer.

    • Kass
      August 8, 2010 at 9:51 PM

      Why (TM) the founders?

  4. August 9, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Haha. I forgot I might have to explain that. It’s a habit I picked up on another forum. You know how all the tea-partiers have taken to constantly referring to the founding fathers, only their idea of the founding fathers is rather rose-colored and removed from actual history? So, it’s rather a little joke, that The Founders is this trade-marked, special product. Rather like how Saint Reagan is this idealized person actually removed from who Ronald Reagan actually was.

  5. V
    August 31, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    Kass,

    You know if our country recognizes gay marriages it is just a matter of time that the country will have to recognize polygamous unions. How far will we take this? Aside from a legal marriage, what is the homosexual community really being denied? Certainly its a stretch to say that homosexuals are suffering.

  6. Ren
    September 1, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Except for the fact that history does not bear out that slippery-slope argument. In fact, cultures that recognized polygamy generally did not recognize same-sex marriage while countries who recognized same-sex marriage did not necessarily recognize polygamous ones. Recognizing same-sex monogamous relationships does not logically or historically lead to recognizing polygamous ones. Same-sex marriage is not a change of what marriage is (long-term, committed relationship between two people), it simply broadens who is involved (not limiting it to two individuals of opposite sex). There is no relationship to polygamy, nor can the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage be used to justify polygamous marriage since polygamous marriage necessarily changes what marriage is.

    • Kass
      September 1, 2010 at 9:16 AM

      Like.

  7. September 30, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    “legally marry” – You used this term and I have to wonder if you have really thought about it. Plus I wonder if you know the history of the marriage license in the U.S.?
    http://www.answers.com/topic/marriage-license

    Prior to the Civil War there was no interference from the state or federal govt. in the union of two people.

    It seems that after the Civil War there were many women asking for their legal compensation for their husbands dying in service to their country. This was when the govt really started to hand out the licenses and they found it was a way to control the populace.

    From above link: Black’s Law Dictionary defines “license” as, “The permission by competent authority to do an act which without such permission […] would be illegal.” The authority to license implies the power to prohibit. A license by definition “confers a privilege” to do something. By allowing the state to exercise control over marriage, it is implied that we do not have a right to marry; marriage is a privilege. Those born in the US receive a birth certificate, not a birth license.

    and this: In the early part of the 20th century, the requirement for a marriage licence (sic) was used as a mechanism to prohibit whites from marrying blacks, mulattos, Japanese, Chinese, Native Americans, Mongolians, Malays or Filipinos.[1] By the 1920s, 38 states used the mechanism. These laws have since been declared invalid by the Courts.

    The Constitution was designed by The Founders (TM) not to control the populace but for the populace to control the government. Unfortunately this has been turned around on us with everyone wanting a handout and their own interests served first. So now we have a government that is controlling and overbearing and getting more power than The Founders (TM) meant for them to have.

    Back to your use of the term “legally marry”. – Lets ask ourselves the following, without ‘religion’ or ‘church’ involvement.

    What is the past & current definition of marriage? (even most of those who want homosexual marriage agree it now is – one man/one woman. That is if they will be honest. That is what they are trying to do after all is redefine the word)

    Should one small segment of society (albeit it is growing due to peoples ignorance) be allowed to change the legal definition of ‘Marriage’ through tugging on heartstrings, with accusations of ‘hatred’, ‘homophobia’, and ‘bigotry’?

    Once this legal definition is changed what is next?

    The argument in the comments, “Except for the fact that history does not bear out that slippery-slope argument.” is false AND misleading.

    History does bear it out and we can see it through numerous examples. Did Hitler take control in a single day? Did Social Security go bankrupt the first day our government started abusing the funds? Even if there were no examples of any past ‘slippery slopes’ could this be ‘the first one’? What would be next? Perhaps something I like and you don’t?

    I don’t expect you to change your mind on this matter. But I do hope that you will slack off a bit on the rhetoric.

    Personally I think the government (both state and federal) should get out of licensing peoples relationships as well as licensing pets.

  8. Ren
    September 30, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    This is long. And may have high-toned rhetoric. I’m not sure. I wrote it in a hurry.

    1) Since legal marriage now imparts all sorts of secular, government dispensed benefits, such as property inheritance and transfer, tax benefits, legal protection clauses, etc., then it most certainly must be a contract that is granted a legal license. Therefore, unless you are also willing to state that currently, in this country in modern times, we abolish all of the government granted or allowed benefits of marriage, you cannot really make a case that modern marriage is somehow divorced from government regulation. Particularly since I’m certain that government regulation of marriage is perfectly appealing so long as you agree with what’s being prohibited….

    2) This argument is rather counter-productive. Yes, some states did use the regulation of marriage licenses to prohibit certain types of marriage. This was declared absolutely against what the Constitution decreed. Federal courts rightly declared that type of discrimination in allowing or disallowing marriage to be unlawful, freeing marriage to a certain extent from government control. This is, essentially the opposite of what you seem to be arguing that it showed. What is less controlling and overbearing? The government saying two people cannot marry based on race, etc., or the government allowing it? Which group is more about serving their interest first? Those who want equal protection for marriage under the secular law? Or those who wish to limit marriage to the dictates of their particular belief system?

    3) The definition of marriage is not historically continuous. Societies throughout history and currently in other regions recognize more than simply “one man + one woman” as a marriage. Even the Old Testament regularly refers to plural wives as wives, recognizing that while not the best choice, these marriages were, in fact, actual marriages. Allowing homosexual couples to marry does not intrinsically change some monolithic definition of marriage (speaking of what has been socially and civilly recognized), it merely alters our Western, American perception and application by integrating another type of committed couple, as I’ve already said.

    4) “The argument in the comments, “Except for the fact that history does not bear out that slippery-slope argument.” is false AND misleading. ”

    Apparently, we need a lesson in demonstrative pronouns. I was specifically referring to the argument that recognizing same-sex marriages inevitably leads to recognizing plural marriage. This is not currently or historically demonstrable.

    Finally, the whole point at issue here is the conflation of believing something to be morally wrong or sinful with believing it cannot be allowed to be legal. It’s not a new a problem. See the Prohibition. I can believe that homosexual activity is a sin while still recognizing that secular law has every right to extend the right to marry to homosexual couples. In fact, I can even believe it is the duty of the secular government to do so under the equal protection statute. I can do this for the same reason that I can believe it’s wrong to lie to my mother while still believing that should not be made illegal.

    I’m not exactly sure what rhetoric you feel should be toned down. I certainly have never intended any of my statements to be incendiary though I certainly do intend them to be incisive. I respect that people disagree. They have that right. And I have the right to think they’re wrong. 😀 And I do say that in all good humor.

    PS. Social Security isn’t bankrupt. In fact, were we to do nothing at all to tweak it and to face the same dearth of tax revenue as we faced this past year, SS could operate at current benefit levels for almost three decades. Then it could continue to operate at 75% current benefits for several more.

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