Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marriage Rites and Marriage Rights

Some advocates of same-sex marriage have taken to emphasizing a distinction between religious marriage--or marriage rites, and civil marriage--marriage rights.  They suggest a "compromise" solution to the marriage wars that includes removing religious aspects of marriage from the legal realm and confining them to the churches. That way, they argue, religious conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage remain free to conduct private religious ceremonies that inform those occasions with the spiritual meaning derived from their particular religious tradition. Meanwhile, they say, civil or legal marriage would contain no religious connotations and would be open, of course, to any couples regardless of gender.

This argument does not really say anything important. Marriage rites already are distinct from marriage rights.

So it is difficult to really disagree with the general principle.

As a conservative, however, I see no reason to change the status quo about how that principle is currently applied.

What that means is, let's continue to keep religious notions of marriage in the church. That way, homosexual couples remain free to hold private religious ceremonies in any liberal, mainline Christian Church that will inform the ceremony with whatever spiritual meaning they derived from their own religious tradition. Meanwhile, the states can continue to recognize only biologically- based marriage and issue licences only to heterosexual couples.

There now. That was easy. We've brought an end to the marriage wars.

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