A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
It should not come as a shock, based on the title above, that I am in favor of same sex marriage.
Without question, I believe marriage is a right that ALL people should have and religion has no place to dictate the ramifications of said institution in a free society aimed at allowing each member to make their own choice. Especially if we are to have a separation between church and state.
This is why I was so very excited several weeks ago when I learned that the Iowa State Supreme Court made it legal for same sex marriage in a state that has a somewhat conservative history. Last night, I was once again reminded of my excitement over this evolution of society by an article I ran across. The article, found at http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20090426/US.Iowa.Gay.Marriage/, follows the stories of same sex couples that have rushed to the county offices to get marriage licenses, many even requesting a waiver of the three day waiting period. Despite the fact that within the state of Iowa legal undoing of this right to marry will have to wait until 2012, as that is when the next state constitutional convention takes place, same sex citizens in Iowa are afraid of a California-like repeal.
This means that unless the state chooses to convene a special meeting of the constitutional convention, the federal government tries to introduce an amendment, or the Federal Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, then, well, Iowa couples of any type will be free to marry.
Quite frankly, I don’t think the federal government is going to try and amend the constitution to disallow same sex marriage. Some have tried, yes, but in its very essence, such an amendment would conflict with previous amendments aimed at ensuring the rights of all American citizens.
As to the highest court in the land hearing the case, well that could happen.
But based on previous decisions, I have faith that the Supreme Court would decide on the side of justice and the rights of all its citizens. For instance, in 2003 they decided to overturn a Texas state law that made sexual practices between men illegal. While not a unanimous decision, in Lawrence v. Texas (http://supreme.justia.com/us/539/558/case.html), the court held that individuals have the right to private acts remaining private in their own private dwellings (including homes, hotels, etc.). Other cases have similarly made clear that there should be a separation between what people hold as morally right and wrong based on religion and what the government can justifiably step in and regulate.
Same sex marriage falls in line with this idea.
Simply put, no government has the right to tell people who they can and cannot marry so long as both people are adults (side note: in a future entry I will address the issue of polygamy). That said, religions do have the right to deny access to anyone within their church, so long as they honor and, at minimum, acknowledge a marriage that is legal in the eyes of the law. The whole point of separation of church and state is to allow members of a religion to practice their faith without government scrutiny.
But before I digress further here, I should move on.
In the end, there is only one solution.
Within the context of religion, there should be a religious ceremony that speaks to the issue of marriage. But most importantly, within the context of government, there should be a civil marriage of sorts that bonds two people, whether man-man, woman-woman, or man-woman, in a partnership of life with all benefits of said partnership.
And this marriage must be respected by all.