Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Freedom from religion is required to have freedom of religion

On October 7th, 2014, Governor Herbert announced that the State of Utah would finally recognize gay marriages and allow them to proceed, complete with marriage licenses. He expressed disappointment and said again that there are legitimate reasons for defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. The US Supreme Court disagreed, and seemed to recognize the danger in supporting that assertion.

What the governor is claiming, as many religious organizations have done, is to claim that religious organizations have sole authority in defining what marriage is. It is obviously important to them that their definition of marriage be held sacred and respected by government. But that's not enough. They want the government to enforce their definition of marriage as law.

There are two problems with that position: The First Amendment and the 14th Amendment. The First Amendment says that there shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion. The 14th Amendment says that everyone is treated equally under the law.

The emphasis here is on the First Amendment. We would do well to understand that when religious organizations lay claim to the definition of marriage in law, they are attempting to enact a law respecting their religious establishment. That is to say, it is not the business of government to enforce the laws concerning marriage with a definition supported and approved by the local religion. It is the business of government to represent all of us. Equally.

What I really want to say, to make this absolutely crystal clear is this: If you want freedom of religion, you must allow anyone else outside of your religion to be free of your religion. That means your religion does not get to dictate the law to the government and impose that law upon everyone else.

The minute you are allowed to do that, you have created a dangerous precedent. I believe that the Supreme Court understands this, along with every court that has sided against bans on same sex marriages. Such bans represent insecurity on the part of organizations that support them. If you truly believe you are right, then perhaps you can promote your views by attraction rather than government enforcement of the laws as you see fit for a religious organization.

Whatever we might feel about same sex marriage, it is not a decision that religions are fit to make about who gets to marry outside of their religion. I say that as long as there is peace, why not? Could they do any more harm than heterosexual marriages have done? Go on, have your heterosexual marriages and let the same sex couples have theirs. They're not going to bother you. They just want to live together in peace, just like you.

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