One can agree or disagree on Judge Walker’s decision regarding gay marriage, but discussing steps taken en route to reach the conclusion can be of benefit for all.
Judge Walker finds that the state has had an interest in licensing marriages from the beginning and that it bestows benefits on those who are married. No dispute on the latter, but how about the former? We have had both civil and religious marriages throughout the ages. Ceremonies performed by rabbis, priests, ministers, imams, etc. have been religious in nature. Those performed by the Justice of the Peace are not. But over time religion has not been very far away. Few, if any, religions do not have marriage as an important facet of their faith. Native tribes around the world have the union between man and woman as a part of their tradition. Even the Roman and Greek gods were married.
However, the U.S. Constitution prohibits the state from establishing any religion and this principle has been interpreted to include various aspects and doctrines of religion, even mainline doctrines which might be widely held by most everyone. Yet neither party raised the establishment issue. So why not limit to the states a simple interest in licensing civil unions and amend those laws which now bestow benefits to those who are licensed for either marriage or civil union and have those performing the ceremony and those joined decide privately what to make of their situation? In Perry v. Schwarzeneger, the defendants failed most miserably to establish any of their contentions that same sex unions are inferior or that encouraging them would adversely impact others. Now many may still disagree with the results, but they lost. So let’s make the most of this situation and get the states out of the “marriage only” licensing business.
Dale Whiting, Chandler
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