Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's Wrong with Prop 8

Marriage is a touchy issue and the debate over marriage equality is one that often generates more light than heat. Partly this is due to the fact that despite our nation's commitment to a separation of church and state, they often intersect and marriage is one of those intersections. Like most clergy, I not only preside over religious marriages, but over the civil institution of marriage as well, when I am called upon to sign marriage licenses and thereby act as an agent of the state. For me, the issue is less complicated because I believe that my Christian faith sanctions all marriages by any and all people committed to live together in fidelity, honor and love, and because I believe that Jesus' message was clear, that family are the people who love you, irrespective of gender or blood.

But for many traditions, marriage is about procreation, a sacrament. For these traditions, the struggle to accept marriage equality is more difficult. Luckily for them, there is a separation of church and state in this country. No law can require them to sanction or perform any marriage they do not approve of. Civil Marriage, is a legal institution, not a religious one. Some clergy and traditions, like me and mine, are happy to perform these marriages because they are, in our understanding valid. But if we did not, no law could make us. That is what is wrong with Prop 8, it takes that choice away for all people and it denies the benefits that go with the institution to people based on who they are. That separation of church and state goes both ways and right now, under current laws, there is no choice for anyone, those GLBT folks who wish to marry or the clergy who wish to transmit God's blessings on them. Equality under the law, freedom of choice, freedom of religion, all of these are being denied under proposition 8. That's not only shameful, it's anti-American. If you don't believe in marriage equality, that's your right, but it is not a license to deny the rights of your fellow Americans.