Gay marriage is about equal rights, not religious morality

The recent ruling in California that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional has raised an interesting variety of hues and cries from the general populace. Some concerns raised are clearly heartfelt sentiments by people truly threatened by the prospect of gay marriage. Other concerns raised leave me wondering what constitution people studied in school.

If, in fact, this issue has more to do with a particular religious code than any civil issue, I have to ask why government is involved at all since government really shouldn’t be codifying religious strictures. Isn’t that what happens in places like Iran where Sharia is the law of the land? Do we really want that to happen here?

Let me stress my belief that Christians have every right to not condone gay marriage based on their biblical readings. However, I would be remiss if I did not also point out that in the Bible, slavery is condoned, as is killing your children if they disobey you. So clearly Christianity has a long history of re-interpreting its beliefs and deciding what are really the words of god and what are merely reminders of the morality of a particular place and time.

For those who believe that gay marriage is the death knell of our civilization, remember much the same argument was once used to support the continued ban on miscegenation. Yet removing that ban did not destroy society as much as it allowed consenting adults to love each other without fear of criminal penalty.

Government has a legitimate role in addressing legal issues arising from permanent unions. This can readily be done through the issuing of civil union certificates to any two consenting adults wishing to enter into such a contract. If a couple then wants god’s blessing on that union, they can go to their church and get married.

But the primary issue now before the courts really has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the constitutional guarantee of equal rights. It is a secular issue that does not, and should not, relate back to the morality of any given set of beliefs.

I studied constitutional history in college and the one thing I remember above all else was that the constitution was not written to enshrine the principle that if the majority votes for it, then it has to be law. It was written to ensure that laws supported by the majority did not discriminate against a minority by taking away any of their basic rights. It was crafted so that laws passed in this country had to be legal under our constitution, with an independent judiciary created to ensure that occurred.

Government’s interest in regulating marriage is about property and legal rights and children’s custody and protection, not about the morality of marriage. Because seriously, if morality is the issue, why would our laws allow Newt Gingrich to tell his wife he was divorcing her as she lay in her hospital bed recuperating from cancer so that he could marry his mistress?  I don’t see how you get more immoral than that.

Two people in love wanting to get married who happen to be gay is downright old fashioned and solid compared to what passes for marriage among some of our more infamous personalities.  Brittany Spears had a marriage that lasted approximately twenty-five hours followed by one that barely lasted long enough for her to push a second child out who then had to be cared for by one parent while the other sat in a psychiatric ward.

Yet Brittany gets to marry again as often as she wants. This is allowed under our constitution. It’s her right. But I would argue it’s hardly moral.

There are those who believe that two gay people who have been in a stable and loving relationship for twenty-five years are going to destroy our country if allowed to marry, but somehow the Brittany’s and Newt’s of this world should be allowed to keep on going until they get it right.

Seems to me we need to rethink what is moral in this country. And maybe we should also do some hard studying on the difference between religious injunctions and constitutionally protected rights. Ours is a country founded on the principle of law, not the unfettered tyranny of any given majority.