Letter: Same-sex couples should have legal rights
To the Editor:
Passions rise when talk turns to the topic of same-sex marriage, as exemplified recently in the opinion section of this newspaper. The debate always seems to revolve around a simple choice: should it be legal or not?
Like most political issues, the issue is reduced to black or white, and the public is asked to choose one or the other. That is the problem with politics — nothing is simply black or white, and whichever way the vote goes, many people will be offended and the problem remains.
One does not hear much about why people take the side they do. Is same-sex marriage a religious issue for them, a moral issue, a violation of their sensibilities, or an economic/political issue? If a person offered a valid rationale for their position, then perhaps an acceptable compromise could be reached.
Here are my thoughts about it. Most marriages are performed in a church or synagogue by an ordained minister or rabbi. It is a religious ceremony and presumed to be righteous in the sight of God. Some marriages are performed by a political appointee and are strictly civil/legal ceremonies sanctioned by the state. Religious marriages, of course, must also be registered and sanctioned by the state. We have two different sanctioning authorities (God and state), yet the same word for each ceremony.
Suppose we all agree to recognize the difference and call the religious ceremony a marriage and the legal ceremony something else. Civil union has been used, but perhaps a more acceptable term is needed. Once that takes place, there should be no further objection to same-sex “union” based on religious grounds.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”.
If we accept that statement from our Declaration of Independence, then all men and women have the right to enjoy the benefits and grievances of our tax laws, regardless of their sexual orientation. After all, civil union is basically a taxation issue, while marriage is a religious issue, about which the state, constitutionally, can have no say. If the same-sex union clearly has no religious component, then people would have no valid objection to it on religious grounds.
Back then to the civil objections. America was founded on the belief that we all have the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. No exceptions are listed, neither by gender, age, color, or sexual orientation. Making same-sex unions illegal denies some that right.
Finally, there is the objection that the implied moral decline will eventually lead to the demise of the United States as happened to ancient Rome. As stated previously, the basic issue is about one’s status as a tax victim of the state. Liberal/socialistic policies about government will bring about its demise long before social issues like racism, sexual orientation, drug usage, abortion, and marriage have much effect.
Same-sex marriage? Give it a new name and enjoy the widespread happiness that ensues. Leave individuals alone to resolve their own religious conflicts. If God objects, He can handle it. Live and let live; just be sure the wording accurately expresses what is meant.
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