Sunday, June 26, 2011

Same Sex Marriage

New York's adoption of laws allowing two people of the same gender to marry each other is a positive move. However, it reminds me of a lingering question: where does the separation of church and state come down on this issue? Before any couple can be married, in either a civil or religious union, they are required to purchase a license from the jurisdiction in which they plan to marry. If there really is a separation between church and state why would a government object to a couple of men or a couple of women marrying each other? Marriage is sanctioned, if you will, by either the state and church or just the state. I cannot argue with religious institutions determining who may be married in their denomination. But by what right do states get to choose who can marry whom? Yes, I know most states don't approve of first cousins marrying first cousins or siblings marrying each other. And, of course, there are age restrictions. These are reasonable because of genetic and other health concerns. Most states have already backed out of adults' bedrooms, recognizing they have no business dictating sexual behavior between consenting adults. Besides, we all know that marriage isn't all about the sex anymore! Anyone who still believes that is living in the dark ages. Of course, I support laws to protect children from incest, pedophiles and other inappropriate behavior. Children have no way of understanding or agreeing to sexual behavior. But I'm talking about the institution of marriage here. Why should two people who are prepared to devote their lives to each other, with all the legal ramifications and responsibilities, be denied that right based solely on their sexual orientation? For many these days, marriage is taken lightly and treated like a big party wherein a bride gets to boss everyone else around and have everything she wants for "her day." A splashy wedding doesn't guarantee a stable marriage. Others, mostly those who cannot legally (yet!) marry the person of their choice desire it to the point of pain. How can it be fair to exclude these people, for no other reason than their sexual orientation, from taking a life altering step that is legal for most everyone else? Is there a secret legion of Puritans running government? I cannot see any other reason to deny legal, civil marriages to gay and lesbian couples. Am I missing something?

No comments: