Yesterday, in a historic decision, the Supreme Court determined that banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, consequently legalizing it throughout the country.
The reactions were… mixed.
This debate is not new to the United States nor is this an issue that will fade quietly into the night. However, as I scrolled through my social media feeds, I was struck by how misunderstood the concept of marriage equality is.
First, to make this easy, let’s answer the question: what is marriage equality?
Marriage Equality means you can’t be denied a marriage license from a state based on the gender of either consenting adult or the benefits legally endowed by that license (including being honored by other states). I can only imagine that laws will be written to reflect the language of Employment Anti-Discrimination Act. You know, the one that outlines you can’t be denied employment or be harassed based on race, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
So let’s talk about what marriage equality is not…
Marriage Equality is not associated with your religion.
This inclusion requirement does not have anything to do with your church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc. It does not require your preacher, priest, rabbi, bishop, etc to perform or acknowledge same-sex marriage. It does not require you to rip out pages of your Torah, Bible, Quran, etc and change your beliefs.
Marriage Equality is not associated with any religion.
Marriage Equality, as governed by the United States of America, has nothing to do with any faith or belief system. No one is even dictating that someone must be emotionally, psychologically or spiritually “okay” with marriage equality.
What it is saying is if two people of the same gender want to get married, as defined by state laws (remember: state, not church) then they will not be denied the opportunity to file their license and consequently, have all legal rights (remember: legal, not spiritual) associated with that license.
I frequently hear the defense that marriage started with the church and thus, is a religious institution. Then someone on the side of marriage equality will fire back with an argument about polygamy and other outdated Bible verses regarding selling your wife and eating shellfish. This argument is never ending and honestly, I don’t feel should ever be engaged in. Your belief system is your belief system. Congratulations to you for finding a faith in which you can invest your conviction and guide your life. However, pay me the same respect and leave my belief system alone as well.
“But my belief system is under attack!”
Sorry to tell you, but any religious influence on the definition of Marriage Equality ended when states started accepting officiants ordained online as legally-approved officers of marriage ceremonies. The church/synagogue/temple/mosque impact on what defines marriage got the boot a while ago. Marriage, as legally defined, is a contract. A legal contract that is fulfilled by checking off all the right boxes at the courthouse and paying a fee.
Again, I will reiterate, marriage as defined by your religious faith does not affect nor is effected by changing what is on that checklist or is accepted on the forms you fill out at the courthouse. Every religion has their own requirements for marriage and the Supreme Court is keeping their hands out of that honey pot. Continue to have your beautiful ceremonies steeped in tradition. They are truly beautiful. Truly.
Marriage Equality is not an attack on anyone or anything…
Marriage Equality is, simply put, legal empowerment. Unless you’re going to engage in a same-sex marriage contract, this, literally, has nothing to do with you. It does not take anything from or contribute anything to the value of your marriage. Stop playing the victim. No one is telling you what to believe or feel. If you feel societal pressure to change your believes, take that back to your faith group.
…other than States Rights.
Now, this is argument to be had. But that’s a story for another day.