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The Tentacle


May 8, 2015

Religion Lost in Thorny Issue

Joe Charlebois

Recently the Supreme Court of the United States heard from those on either side of the same-sex marriage argument. Of course, both sides are cautiously optimistic that the court will rule in its favor. There should be a middle ground in this debate to protect all involved – especially the church.

Many on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue will decry that a position of “yes” to civil unions and “no” to gay marriage is a position of "fence sitting" or indecisive. In actuality, it is the wisest response for such a contentious and complicated subject.

To proponents of civil unions, there should be no reason that a person cannot enter into a contract with another with the purpose of sharing resources equitably within the framework of a partnership.

There should be no reason that a couple cannot share property, obligations and – under the foundation of legal arrangements – provide for each other or employ power-of-attorney in times of need.

This is where a civil union makes sense. A civil union between a man and a woman, between two siblings or even between members of the same sex, should be allowed in order to lend legal clarity to difficult situations.

I am not making any moral judgment on homosexuality, nor will I share my views on the same.

If the court’s ruling allows for gay marriage and the recognition of gay marriage between states, the biggest losers would religious individuals and religious institutions.

Those opposed to a ruling in favor of gay marriage would rightly see this as an infringement on their civil liberties. They would – under the power of law – be forced to disavow their religion. At the very least anyone who believes that gay marriage is immoral would be branded a bigot. In a worst case scenario, they would be being assessed fines, lose tax-exempt status or be forced out of business.

Many people strongly believe that “marriage” is primarily a religious institution or sacrament. A marriage between same-sex partners is antithetical to the teachings of many people of faith. It is not the same thing as a civil union.

To many this approach may be a game of “semantic Twister,” but separating marriage from a civil union specifically defines what should be allowed under civil law and what is accepted as the social norm for a culture that has deeply held religious convictions.

Even though marriage has been as much a civil as religious institution for hundreds of years, society still has a difficult time separating the two. There should be separate types of unions. There needs to be an option for same-sex couples to contractually bond. But if the court rules it to be legal throughout the country, then what is to stop a couple from using the power of government to force a church to marry the two individuals.

Whether you are in favor of same-sex marriage or not, it is inevitable that a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would allow the LGBT community to take a sledgehammer to religious institutions in this country.

joe_charlebois@yahoo.com

 



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