Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Marriage is a Rite not a right

Yesterday the courts, in California, took on the question if Proposition 8 is constitutional. For those who have lived under a rock or do not follow this issue, Prop 8 (as it is commonly called) was passed by 52% of Californians in 2008 to establish a State Constitutional definition that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman. Gay right groups feel Prop 8 violates their rights and is unconstitutional. What we have here are two separate arguments being made but will be lumped into one. First point of discussion is if marriage is a right. Secondly, is Prop 8 unconstitutional? To answer the second question we need first define the first question.

Is marriage a right of all Americans? To answer this we must acknowledge the institution of marriage is rooted in religious dogma. To exercise one's religion is a right established and guarantee by the Bill of Rights. Since marriage is religious in nature, does that translate to a right for all Americans? Some religious sanction polygamy yet there are rules established that one cannot take on more than one spouse at a time. Even though the law exists those that practice religions that promote polygamy are still able to even if they are highly scrutinized by child welfare agencies. Now, we have laws against drug use in American yet certain religions are allowed to posses and use drugs as outlined in the rites of their religion.

This brings us back to the right of marriage by all Americans. Marriage is a religious rite that has specific guidelines for the married couple to live by. Being a Gnostic the concept of marriage takes place on a spiritual level rather than on the flesh and blood level. But I digress. Since the definition of marriage depends on one religion, then there should be very little discussion on the topic of marriage being a right. In essence marriage is not a RIGHT rather marriage is a RITE.

Now, if we view marriage as a rite, we can answer the constitutional questions in regards to Prop 8. To resolve this question we need to look at how the question is being phrased. The argument put forth against Prop 8 is the use of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection and due process. The groups looking to overturn Prop 8 are equating interracial marriage to same-sex marriage. Is the argument one in the same? Is defining marriage between 1 man and 1 woman a violation of equal protection?

Since marriage is a rite then no one's equal protection or due process is being violated. Now, a better argument on the constitutionality of Prop 8 is if it violates the separation of church and state. The entire process and incorporation of marriage in the laws, IRS filings, and other legal writs are all violations of church and state in so far that marriage is a religious rite. That being said, every American should be outraged by Prop 8 as it violates the separation of church and state clause in the Constitution. The term marriage needs to be stripped from various use by the government and returned to religious dogma from which it was born. If we, as a society, require recognition of living with a life partner then let's rely on legal documents, i.e. power of attorney. The Constitution already allows for same-sex and opposite sex marriages in so far as it protects one's right to practice religion and all ceremonies involved.

Why are we all not demanding the removal of the institutional definition of marriage as it violates the separation of church and state clause in the Constitution? Is that not a more intelligent way to go about the issue of marriage? By taking this approach we solidify the sanctity of marriage for all religions while also removing government control over one's choice of a life partner.