Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Politics of Marriage

Last night's forum asked both candidates for President to define 'marriage'. A good question, and the definition of such has been a major contention of debate here in the United States for some years now. It mostly centers around the question of the 'right' to get married, and why such a 'right' is denied to those of homosexual persuasion. Some have claimed homosexuality to be a life-style choice, and use this as a justification to argue against same-sex marriage. I'm not going to be discussing homosexuality at all, so I'm not going to go into any further depth. For the purpose of this post, sexual attraction as being preset or a choice is irrelevant.
The simple fact is, you do not have an inherent right to get 'married'. By the same token, the State has no business granting or denying marriage licenses. This whole argument is going to be about semantics, but I will also tell you that the whole political debate on marriage is about semantics. And dealing with the specific question of marriage in America is nearly impossible to make an easy determination about what constitutes a 'traditional' marriage because the institution of marriage throughout history has gone through many permutations and changes. And it's impossible to pin down what exactly might be the best way to determine how we should approach this issue, at least with a low-level research of the subject. History is so filled with conflicts and changes on the subject, that one can simply pick and choose the facts one wants to support their arguments. So I say, toss history, or at very least, remember the traditions and use some proper reason.
Here are some things we can know. Christian tradition and doctrine has a great deal to say about marriage, including the definition of such as being a union between man and woman before the eyes of God. I've stated before that inherent rights are the gift of our Creator and it would stand to reason that if Christian doctrine defines marriage as a union between man and women before God, then we should have the inherent right to marriage. Well, yes, but only if one assumes the Christian tradition as the final word on all things Divine. I do not confuse the Church with the Divine. The church is still man-made organization (even if it is divinely inspired, it is not divinely run). Along with the traditions found in most religions supporting marriage, we can safely put marriage as a mostly religious institution. This is not to deny the tradition and evidence of it being a social and civil institution in the past, but it is important to realize past influence of religion on civil society, and to understand that it is only after the Enlightenment that civil government and religious influence began to truly separate. Indeed, it appears that most of the earliest marriage laws in America, passed in the 19th century, were primarily designed to prevent interracial marriage, and not to sanctify the practice.
At this point, let me be clear what inherent right you do have. You do have the inherent right to form a union of mutual commitment with whomever you choose. The government has the responsibility to recognize this union. This also includes the right to enter into polygamous or polyandrous committed unions. And yes, I'm using committed unions in place of the term civil unions. A civil union is recognized by the government, the ruling civil authority. Where the real question comes in is what interest the government might have in such things. The answer is very little. Government has no role of society, let alone determining the relationships of the individual. It's only question comes in taxation, and it can set its rules as it desires there.
Now, I said this was going to be all about semantics. And it has been. Marriage is the holy union of a man and a woman before God, and thus the realm of the Church and not the government. Civil unions are the place of the government. It is not up to the government to determine with whom you can or cannot form such a union. That determination is your right, and the government's job is to protect that right, not regulate it. And as long as the government continues to push itself in where it shouldn't be, namely in granting marriage licenses, then it will continue to either destroy a traditional institution or create a dual level of citizenship, where on group (homosexuals, in this case) will not be have the same rights as another group. And we do have a word for this, it's called discrimination.

No comments: