Marriage Equality, President Obama, and Freedom of Religion

“…I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” President Obama

I had started down this path earlier this week in response to Vice President Joe Biden’s comments from Sunday May 6th edition of Meet the Press, “I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties.” But I never got around to writing it up.

At that point it was obvious the VP Biden was sincere and heartfelt in his declaration. But it still was uncertain whether it was a trial balloon from the White House or just his personal opinion. And of course the White House initially clarified the Vice President’s position, so the waters remained muddy.

But on Monday MSNBC asked Education Secretary Arne Duncan if same sex couples should be allowed to marry, and his response? “Yes, I do!”

So was this just a clever plan to roll up to the President’s interview revelation or was the general lack of opposition to Vice Pres. Biden and Secretary Duncan’s candor enough to convince President Obama that the time was right to come out so to speak?

I don’t know the answer to that, but it certainly is an early and clear differentiator between the President and Mr. Romney who had to instantly make a stand against Marriage Equality. “I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor. I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney said. “I have the same view I’ve had since, well, running for office.”

So, for the 2012 Presidential campaign, that line is clearly drawn…

Now for a little housekeeping:

I really prefer the term marriage equality to same sex marriage…same sex marriage still makes it sound different…equal but different? separate but equal? It mustn’t be different; it needs to be MARRIAGE EQUALITY!

There has been some push back on the Presidents continued statement that he still supports concept of states’ deciding the issue on their own. Well as a Constitutional scholar he is probably right. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is indefensible on a civil rights basis. It does not provide equal rights at the federal level and should be abandoned post haste. And the licensing and oversight of marriage has traditionally been reserved to the states. Now granted from what we have seen in North Carolina and a few years ago in Wisconsin, the states aren’t enlightened enough to understand the real issue at hand. Civil rights are civil rights and should not be abridged at any level. Marriage equality needs to be the accepted law of the land.

And then there is the concerted echo that the ‘imposition’ of marriage equality violates the freedom of religion for those who define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. This whole process would actually affirm religious freedom. Governments would provide for marriage equality on a civil level and wholly allow the religious organizations to discriminate against gay couples at their own pleasure, within their own belief structure. Why having the government protect civil rights for all Americans, including religious freedom is a violation of religious freedom is beyond me.


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4 thoughts on “Marriage Equality, President Obama, and Freedom of Religion

  1. I concur. Marriage Equality it is. Excellent point, thank you for making it. President Obama has stated that he does not view Marriage Equality as a civil rights issue. As a Constitutional scholar he may be wrong. I’m certain he is aware that the liberties and personal freedoms accorded by the Bill of Rights were included as an act of appeasement with the provision that said amendments were not to be construed as exclusionary nor as a pretext for any individual to violate another individual’s constitutional rights.

    As for violating religious freedom, religious conscience, call it what you will – that is an anti-constitutional position. You are right. There is no imposition. The “freedom of religion” conservative canard has been shamefully abused for far too long with too many issues. Anyone who defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman is free to do so, but their right stops there. They haven’t the right to legislate morality for any other American citizen, and the Constitution specifically does not provide for using one right to violate another right.

    As for religious institutions discriminating against gay couples, I’d say ok if they serve only their own tithing members and never the public. If they receive religious tax exemptions or receive public dollars in any manner, way, shape, or form then no, they shouldn’t be granted any preferential license to discriminate against anyone.

  2. name one religion that has homosexual marriages. I dare you to. I am sorry, but marriage is between man and woman. How in the world would they have kids for true happiness

    1. cody, if you’ve read the post, I am suggesting that government, particularly the federal government, has the job of protecting individual rights while religions may continue to set whatever rules they deem fit for marriage within their religious community.

      And considering how many religions in the past and some currently support polygamy, your argument is specious.

    2. Here’s a shortlist of religions and religious sects that do not condemn gender differences: Hinduism, Unitarian Universalism, The United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, Presbyterianism, The Anglican Church, The Episcopalian Church, and the Ancient Greeks who founded the Democracy we in America so cherish today.

      The question, Cody, is not which religions accept homosexuality or gay marriage. When you ask that question you fundamentally reject the values imbued within the Constitution. You are taking not an Unconstitutional position, but an Anti-Constitutional position if, upon religious grounds, you seek to restrict the liberties of others.

      The question we should all be asking you is: Are you willing to tolerate religious views that contradict your own? If your answer is no, if you advocate for the legal definition of marriage based upon religious principle then you are advocating for something closer to Sharia Law than for Constitutionally protected liberties which expressly allow for freedom of religion. When you allow no legal dissent to your religious opinion on marriage equality you advocate for tyrannical authoritarianism and theocracy.

      You are free to believe marriage equality is wrong. You are not free to prevent anyone else from believing otherwise. If you find marriage equality intolerable you are intolerant of religious liberty and you are plain and simply Anti-Constitutional and UnAmerican in your beliefs.

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