Several of the Federal circuit courts have found that the Fourteenth Amendment, which became part of the Constitution in 1868, requires the states to validate same sex marriage as equal with opposite sex marriage. Of course, I think this would be a bit of a surprise to our ancestors in 1868, but that seems to be irrelevant nowadays. And to think we missed this obvious conclusion for 146 years!
Anyway, the view I will take for myself is not so much that the courts have raised ‘civil unions’ to ‘marriage’, but rather they have busted civil marriage down to the level of a domestic partnership. So my wife and I remain married in Holy Matrimony, but at civil law, as far as I am concerned, we are only ‘domestic partners’ and no more.
In my view, the morally conservative clergy of the various religions should stop exercising their traditional rights to solemnize civil ‘marriages’ NOW, and content themselves with declaring Holy Matrimony, which is governed by canon law or church law. This will also be an incentive to draw a stricter standard for divorce for Holy Matrimony than many evangelicals have been observing; for too long they have simply rubber-stamped civil divorce. This could be, in fact, a good thing.
As for the vendors of cakes and flowers, some of them may have to go to the mat and perhaps to prison; but what they have to decide is are they in the business of doing Domestic Partnership cakes and flowers, or Holy Matrimony cakes and flowers? It’s one or the other from here on out, and there’s no middle ground left.
A little more complicated issue is that of promoting the advantages of ‘marriage’ in our society over those of cohabitation or single parenting. Churches, of course, are free to deny access to the Holy Table to those who insist on cohabiting, and they should do so. But if we’re talking about the society at large, many will never embrace Holy Matrimony but only Domestic Partnership; but I think a public commitment to a Domestic Partnership, which they will probably call a ‘wedding’ anyhow, will accomplish the results desired; we can continue to make the point that ‘marriages’, even ‘domestic partnerships’, where people move in together after the ceremony are singularly more successful than those preceded by cohabitation. And I think we can advertise that publicly on billboards. And we can ask for support of the states. I would even ask for the support of the State of California. If they can spend money on discouraging tobacco, they can spend money on this, provided it’s based on actual evidence rather than religious dogma. [Remember, as I said in a previous post, opposition to tobacco used to be primarily based in religious doctrine!]
As for whether same sex ‘marriage’ will degrade ‘marriage’, it will not, any more than ‘marriage’ has already been degraded. In the end, same sex ‘marriage’ is only a symptom of something that has already happened: too often we now speak of marriage as being about ‘being in love’ or ‘falling in love’ rather than the good purposes of domestic life, raising children, and intimate contact with the Other that marriage was designed for. I think an ancient Greek, were he levitated into our time, would say that we have made our ‘marriages’ [even the opposite sex ones] to be more like the Greek homosexual relationships than like the ancient Greek idea of marriage. So I don’t think that same sex marriage will make ‘marriage’ less valuable to the portion of the public that would benefit from it. And for those who do think civil ‘marriage’ has been devalued and made meaningless by same sex ‘marriage’, there’s an easy answer; join a religion, and get Holy Matrimony.