Thursday, May 10, 2012

On the subject of marriage

David Waters, the terrific religion writer for the CA, got the reactions of several ministers to yesterday's announcement by the President that he now supports marriage equality.

I was struck by this response by Chris Altrock of the Highland Church of Christ:

If we want to have a civil discussion about the status of homosexuals in our culture or about the legal privileges afforded to homosexuals, let’s do so by all means. Jesus would urge us to love our neighbor, heterosexual or homosexual, and to create a cultural climate in which all neighbors are treated with justice and mercy. But let’s leave marriage out of this discussion. From a Christian perspective, marriage has nothing to do status or stability. Marriage between a man and a woman exists to reflect the world-changing love between Jesus and his bride.
With all due respect, Reverend, I must take issue.  Marriage is not the sole propriety of the church, and this is why my gay friends seek marriage EQUALITY.  Marriage may well be a covenant, but what is a covenant? An AGREEMENT, and what is another name for agreement? CONTRACT.

You see, the state governs contracts, not the church. If the Supreme Court of the United States were to rule that gay marriage were legal, all that would mean is that gay couples could not be denied marriage licenses by their County Clerk.  If that couple were to bring their license to your church, sir, you and your congregation would have every right under your guaranteed freedom of religion to politely explain that such marriages were against your beliefs and that you could not honor their request.

But it would still be a MARRIAGE license.  And MARRIAGE, not civil union, is what gives not only legal protection, but EQUAL STATUS in this great land of ours.  To not grant the right of MARRIAGE to gay people is to deny them EQUALITY.

And that is a civil rights issue, ladies and gentlemen.  I support civil rights for all regardless of race, creed, origin, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, even though I am a straight white male.  Civil rights should be the birthright of all human beings, and last I looked, gay people were human.

So, Rev. Altrock, while I appreciate that your response was not homophobic, (and, frankly, much more open and welcoming than some of your fellow ministers in the article), I must gently remind you and all ministers, regardless of faith, that MARRIAGE belongs to all, not just the church.

Civil rights is civil rights.  NEVER forget that.

1 comment:

Steve Tapp said...

How about equality for SINGLE people? I'm tired of subsidizing spouses of any stripe in the tax code and entitlements to free or reduced-cost health insurance and Social Security pension payments to housewife widows.

There are more single people than ever. End these discriminatory anachronisms. Follow the money and you'll see what all this whining by a small percentage is really about.