Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Freedom of Religion Argument

Back in the days when the idea of marriage equality was just a dream, I thought long and hard on the legal reasoning for challenging the status quo. Marriage is a civil contract but it is also a religious service. Many libertarians argue that we should simply get the government out of the marriage business altogether and leave it to the churches. But if our government isn't supposed to show any preferences for one religion over another, then how dare they hold valid the marriages of some religions while they ignore the marriages of others?

Today a gay couple can be married in any number of religions. Liberal or reformed sects of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism openly bless same sex marriages, but many states still refuse to acknowledge these marriages. I have always felt that to be a direct and serious violation of the First Amendment.

The Windsor case opened the floodgates for all the recent pro-marriage equality rulings and it was based on the violation of due process for gay couples under the Fifth Amendment. That's great! There is never a wrong reason to do the right thing. But I felt a special kind of vindication when I read this.

In a novel legal attack on a state’s same-sex marriage ban, a liberal Protestant denomination on Monday filed a lawsuit arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by barring clergy members from blessing gay and lesbian couples. 
The lawsuit, filed in a Federal District Court by the United Church of Christ, is the first such case brought by a national religious denomination challenging a state’s marriage laws. The denomination, which claims nearly one million members nationwide, has supported same-sex marriage since 2005. 
“We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices,” said Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel of the United Church of Christ. 
The denomination argues that a North Carolina law criminalizing the religious solemnization of weddings without a state-issued marriage license violates the First Amendment. Mr. Clark said that North Carolina allows clergy members to bless same-sex couples married in other states, but otherwise bars them from performing “religious blessings and marriage rites” for same-sex couples, and that “if they perform a religious blessing ceremony of a same-sex couple in their church, they are subject to prosecution and civil judgments.”
And the freedom of religion gets a little freer!

3 comments:

  1. I almost miss the days when stuff like this would cause an argument. Almost.

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  2. The whacker always wins!

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  3. Wins? Not always. "Adapts and evolves" is more accurate.

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