Middle Ground – Marriage Equality & Religious Freedom

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We – humans – have a bad habit of making problems or creating issues where there are none.

Following last weeks decision by the US Supreme Court that all legal-aged couples, without regard to the gender of the parties, has a constitutional right to dignity and to apply and receive a license to have their long-term relationship recognized by the state with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that entails, to the right and to the left there were battle cries.

On the right among social conservatives, there was the call to rally the troops to protect religious liberty – even though the Supreme Court majority did not abridge religious liberty in any way.

On the left among social liberals (primarily in the GLBT community) a siren call went out to form the lines to force religious organizations to put their “sincerely held religious beliefs on the shelf or you hate me and are a bigot and violate my right to marry.” This even though the Supremes in no way gave any right or mandate to the GLBT and their supporters to demand religious bodies to abridge their freedom of free exercise guaranteed by the 1st Amendment.

This whole mess is man-made ridiculousness.

There is a simple solution, one which I have advocated for years. Those who read or follow my dribble will recognize this simple solution from my Principles Which I Carry Over, which I have posted for the world to see for the past few years.

To quote:

Same-gender relationships should be afforded the benefit of state blessing just as opposite-gender relationships now are. There is no reason to complicate or not allow equality under the law with all the benefits and protections afforded opposite-gender couples over the use of a word on the state license. Best option is that all state licenses use the term civil union on all state documents. Let the couples have a “marriage” privately within the framework of their religious institutions or according to their moral view. All couples, whether same-gender or opposite-gender, should be afforded the same rights and benefits under the law when receiving a license to recognize the joining of the two individuals legally.

To put it more simply, the Justices upheld that states must recognize all legal-aged, consenting couples right to wed. The Justices did not take away the states rights to regulate marriage in several areas.

States still determine the age of majority and at what age minors must get parental consent.

States still determine how closely related by blood couples may wed.

States still determine residency requirements to obtain a license.

States still determine who may issue licenses.

States still determine who officiates marriages.

On the last issue, states deciding who can and can’t perform ceremonies – this is the solution.

For “official” state recognition in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling, all exchange of vows must be conducted by a civil servant acting in a secular role as an agent of the state.

Those who wish to have a religious ceremony can plan, can spend, can be as lavish as their church allows, but after the official, civil ceremony. Same-gender couples can do the same, but would have to find a church or religious body which agrees that God blesses both gay and straight.

There would then be no assault of religious freedom. There would be no cause for some to try and make a “federal case” by entrapping some preacher in the cross hairs.

From the Cornfield, as a man, who happens to be married legally to another man (at least for the moment), there is middle ground. There is a path we can walk which gives respect for those who agree and those who disagree that all couples should be equal under the Constitution when it comes to state (which is secular) recognition of ones vow to love and to hold.

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