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Until death do you part versus secular marriage

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POSTED June 28, 2013 10:47 p.m.

A marriage for government’s purpose is a contractual obligation.
It takes two individuals and for all practical purposes merges them into one. Such a contract takes on legal and financial obligations. Certain rights are automatically conferred by the government in a contractual spousal situation. And just like when a corporation dissolves through bankruptcy, the government steps in and dictates how the contractual arrangement is undone and who receives what assets and assumes what liabilities. Even when there is a prenuptial agreement, it is the government that ultimately decides whether it is kosher.
A marriage for a church is a spiritual commitment. It deals less with the fine print of the laws and more with moral and ethic obligations. It is, in the truest sense, a contract of the souls.
The two Supreme Court decisions this past week did not rule on the constitutionality of same sex marriage per se. In California’s case, it simply ruled those arguing against a lower court decision to strike down Proposition 8 had no legal standing. In the other case, it ruled the federal government couldn’t deny spousal benefits and rights to same sex couples that were married in states where such unions are legal.
In short, the court really upheld the legal appeal process and states’ rights.
You have to have legal standing to challenge a court ruling regardless of whether it is about same sex-marriage, eminent domain, or some arbitrary law. Uncle Sam has to honor legally conveyed contractual rights given by states unless, of course, the high court decides the premise for granting those rights wasn’t constitutional.
The same-sex marriage fight is far from over. And until there is a high court decision that says otherwise, there is no constitutional guarantee that states that so far have conferred same-sex marriage can’t take it away.
In the arena of secular politics it is tough to justify denying same sex marriage given no one is being coerced and the secular rights of other parties aren’t being trampled.
The secular argument about marriage and children is valid but it should be noted that same sex couples and individuals not in marriage already have the right to adopt or have children either from artificial insemination or out of wedlock.
My religious beliefs are my religious believes
And in order for the preservation of the right to worship as I chose I must be willing to stand up for the rights of others.
I do not believe the government which usually acts on the will of the majority should interfere in private lives especially when whatever activities undertaken do not confer harm to other parties or require the downgrading of another’s constitutional rights.
Just like I do not want the government to dictate religion or interfere with the implementation of their tenets except in narrow cases that clearly cross the line when civil liberties of those who believe differently are jeopardized, I do not want government to do the same with private lives.
I abhor smoking but I must stand up for the reasonable rights of smokers because I may one day engage in a behavior that the majority acting through the government finds repulsive.
The foundation of the constitution is based on individual rights and protecting those rights against the tyranny of the majority.
Same sex marriage from a secular viewpoint falls within those parameters.
The issue here is freedom. It is being clouded by semantics.
Historically, marriage was the invention of churches. States as in kingdoms and nations were Johnny-Come-Lately. They jumped on the bandwagon to control people and to make sure their authority superseded the churches in secular governance.
As for those who argue same-sex marriage was somehow the downfall of various empires, you need to look at not the hot button cultural issues but the over reach of those governing. The day governments become too intrusive with markets and individuals’ freedoms and greatly expand their reach via force and regulation is when the sun starts setting.
We need to get beyond the semantics. Government should call what they do in overseeing the legal joining of two adults as a civil union regardless of whether it is opposite sex or same sex. Let the term marriage belong to the church. In reality they already are two things. Churches do not recognize you as married unless they bless the union. Government doesn’t recognize a church wedding unless government issues you a license.
Government and churches are not two institutions working in tandem on marriage. Never have and never will. Religion and government have two separate objectives.
Give churches marriages. Require government to handle civil unions. Treat everyone equal.
As for the rulings this past week, the high court did what is supposed to do under the constitution and focused narrowly on the cases before them.
If nine men and women can put aside biases to respect a document designed to protect the weak, the minority and the powerless while creating a strong union, the least we can do is put aside our personal biases and demand that government treat the constitution with the same respect.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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