I am constantly being bombarded with email and “snail” mail letters telling me to support laws that will define marriage as that union between one man and one woman. It is apparent that this issue is important to many Americans. But I would like to offer my thoughts on the subject and perhaps it will assist others in seeing this issue in a different light.
When I got married, I was REQUIRED to obtain a legal marriage certificate from the State of Pennsylvania. But my wife and I also were married according to our faith(s) and so in effect, I have two separate documents to declare our marriage. One in which we declared our love and devotion to the Creator and to the Universe and the other (with appropriate blood tests and fees) in accordance with statutes of the State of Pennsylvania.
And I feel that this extremely volatile debate over the “definition” of marriage can be settled in a few paragraphs.
Under many religions, it is not permissible for two members of the same sex to join in “holy matrimony” as that joining is based on the act of reproduction as the primary purpose of marriage. But in the legal sense of marriage, it has to do with sharing legal responsibility with respect to contracts, income(s) and taxes. The former is mutually exclusive from the latter and that is as it should be, as the government has no lawful authority to make that former religious point comply with statutory law, as that would be a violation of the First Amendment in a very specific sense, that it would enforce a religion’s definition of marriage on all people, regardless of their personal liberties to choose their own life and life style.
In the Mormon faith, a man may have several wives, but that is against the statutes or “color of law” in America. I have a solution: For the purposes of legal recognition, one person may be “assigned” to the role of “spouse” as defined in tax laws and contract law. and the others are spouses under their common religious beliefs. Will that work for you? Or change the statutes so as not to violate the practice of one’s faith just because it is different than the majority of others. Polygamy harms no one. Should not a man who has multiple wives, be allowed to claim them and his children all as dependents for tax purposes? After all, he is taking on the burden of providing for them all, why punish someone who is responsible and the reward so many others who are not responsible for themselves?
So to settle the debate, I offer this: Any two (or more) people may join in a legal contractual union which will hold them all responsible for and to the terms of that contract. In other words, if one falls ill or dies, the other(s) would share the burdens and rewards that are requisite in all spousal relationships. As a compassionate and loving human being, isn’t it wrong to deprive a person bereaving the loss of a loved one, simply because they are of the same sex?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Therefore, to establish any law regarding the religious institution of marriage is a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Every State that issues a certificate or license for marriage is also in violation of First Amendment Rights.
It is incumbent upon the individuals who choose to join themselves in a loving bond to determine what rights and privileges are to be enjoyed by that union and not the province of government to make that determination for them.