There is a saying that the battle may be lost (or won) but the war is not over, and it is exactly this fact of life which many people in the United States should take to heart. The Supreme Court may have the final word on same-sex marriage as far as the law goes, but there are always loopholes someone will seek out, always people who will not accept.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appears to be one of these people. He seems to think that he can get around the Supreme Court ruling by citing religious freedom, by telling his clerks that they can refuse a marriage license if they feel that issuing one impedes their Right to religious freedom. That is, if a clerk feels that their religious freedom is of greater importance than the civil rights of another person.
The two things are clearly miles apart. What the Supreme Court has ruled is that two people of the same gender may get married. What they have not ruled is that this marriage can take place in a church building or as part of a religious ceremony. Their ruling impedes on no religious freedoms whatsoever, and does not change Church law. It allows consensual civil unions under civil law for same-gender couples.
Photo Source: Russell Mondy – Creative Commons
Another loud voice is that of Rand Paul who seems to be demanding that government should get out of the marriage business. He doesn’t want his Right to guns or his Right to form a (marriage) contract decided in Washington DC. He seems to feel that the Supreme Court decision is just the beginning of the end for marriage and that, given enough time, someone in government will manage to get other forms of marital contract approved – perhaps he’s hinting at incestuous marriages, the idea has been floated so often.
Just to be clear, an incestuous marriage could well be a contract between a man and a woman, who happen to be closely related. Isn’t the fact that a man and a woman, under the old form of law, could marry much more likely to bring marriage of a man and a woman who are closely related with it than the civil union of same-sex couples?
What Paul seems to have forgotten here is that removing the government involvement – which would mean that the license need not be issued by a clerk, but by a pastor, a deacon, a member of some religious order – brings one or two other problems with it. For the established religions, couples would find themselves severely restricted in who they could take as a partner. Do they have the same religion – as in: both Roman Catholic, both Latter Day Saints and so on – or even the same branch of the same religion? Are both virgins, and can they prove it? Has one or the other been married before and is now divorced?
With the smaller religions, and there are literally hundreds registered in the United States, we could well see polygamy coming back in to fashion. How about the old (in the Bible) tradition of a man marrying his brother’s wife should the brother die?
Each religion has its own rules about marriage, and it is only the civil involvement – the fact that people do not have to be married in a church building, through a religious ceremony – which keeps marriage active at all. How many marriages would simply not exist if only the Church were allowed to approve this binding contract?
- Viktoria Michaelis.