I’ve vehemently attempted to steer clear of making an entry on my diary about this whole mess about marriage equality. It’s an amazingly divisive issue and surprisingly, people seem to be making the wrong assumptions and understandings of what’s really going on; I’m also amazed to see some of the heinously bigoted and outright dumb posts some have made on WordPress.
There are two distinct issues I wish for people to identify:
1) The issue currently at the Supreme Court docket, relates specifically to the constitutionality of a legislative Proposition (Prop 8) that was passed in California that caused harm to a woman (who brought the original suit) relating to the recognition of tax and legal status. The implications of the ruling would have greater implications for the ways laws are written in the future (and perhaps even some as they stand now).
2) The second issue is that of marriage equality, prompted by the above. Does the institution of marriage only claim the right of that status (“Married“) when it is between one man and one woman. As marriage in this fashion is recognized at a state and federal level to have legal confines and rights between the two individuals that are inherent as part of their marriage.
Marriage, is a age-old, ubiquitous institution performed for, literally, thousands of years – before the US was ever even a twinkle in someone’s eye. Marriages occurred for love, for procreation, for blood-line protection, to prevent wars (or to start them), for money, for tradition, for religion and in some cases all-of-the-above.
In general, it is safe to assume that in today’s modern era, marriages are generally performed (and I’ll limit my statements to the US for now) out of a conviction of love between two people. Marriages, to that extent, can be performed before a judge (a courthouse, peacekeepers, etc.) and/or by a ordained, recognized, religious leader of any religion (pastors, priests, etc.).
A marriage that is performed in one state, is automatically recognized in another. In fact, for the most part, when you get divorced while living a state that differs from the one you were originally married in, the state of residence is the state by which it’s divorce laws apply; even so much so that marriages of foreign nationals who settle or now live in the US, must follow their states laws and practices for divorce proceedings, not their country of origin.
Our country was founded on the principals to separate church and state, due to the damages history has shown us when the two are not clearly divided. The Spanish Inquisition, The Holocaust… or worse, Tom Cruise and Scientology…
That isn’t, however, to say that church’s have not had a big impact on the development of our country. Church’s performed acts of welfare, before the government could support it. Religious morals and scriptured guidance provided a policed state before there were municipal police departments. Priests provided counsel before psychologists were available, and so on and so on. You see, church and state have always had a risky relationship… Our history is littered with both the good and bad deeds performed by the church.
A component element within the church and state separation clause in our constitution, was specifically to allow freedom of religion; and to prevent government action, interference, judgement, prevention or persecution based on an individual’s belief in any given religion – so long as the individual does not harm or break the laws enacted by the people.
Now let’s define harm. Harm is both an intellectual’s term, a medical term, and a legal term. More importantly, it is also a moral term – my colleagues and I use it throughout the medical profession, both in relationship to physical patient well-being and to psychological well-being. The standards of medicine we practice are based on many of the canons set forth by Bernard Gert – to which my favorite of his statements pertain to a simple principled, agnostic view on morals that could be diversely applied within any religious belief:
Morality is an informal public system applying to all rational persons, governing behaviour that affects others, and includes what are commonly known as the moral rules, ideals and virtues and has the lessening of evil or harm as its core goal.
His idea functioned under the principles of ‘natural law theory’; which centered around five elements of potential harm:
- Pain (physical and emotional)
- Loss of faculty or Disabilities
- Loss of Freedoms
- Loss of pleasure or loss of right to experience pleasures
So look at yourself and your personal religious beliefs. How far off are they from this concept of natural law?
This issue isn’t about ‘gay’ rights. It’s about our rights.
When you tell me that you personally believe that gays are bad because God says so, I accept you for who you are and recognize your right to believe.
When you tell me that I shouldn’t do something, because it is gross to you or against God’s will, I accept you for who you are and recognize your freedom of speech.
When you prevent or arrest my ability to do something equal to you, or declare that I am less than you, because your religion tells you to do so, I fight against you and the harm that you enact.
When you invoke your specific religion as the reason to barricade the jurisdictional equality of your rights against mine at a civil and human level, you remove the custodial component of logic and reason and replace it, instead, with misinterpretation. This misinterpretation represents your immaturity that greatly contaminates the logical process with impunity and deprecates the seriousness of the consequences for your actions. It voids the integrity of the bond that link an individual to another.