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Separation of church and state except regarding Proposition 8

August 7, 2010 12 comments

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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