Lately, my facebook feed has been inundated with red math. First, equal signs, then unequal signs, plus signs, even a division sign (I’m still not sure which side that came from), all interspersed with statuses about equality, the “right side of history,” “traditional marriage,” and the Bible. I had been distracted by Holy Week, so I didn’t know about the cases in front of the Supreme Court. Fortunately, hundreds of my facebook friends have decided that they are constitutional scholars, so I’m all caught up now.
My problem is the intertwining of church and state. Marriage is a sacrament, a covenant, a religious institution. The state should have no say in who can or can’t get married. It may need to keep a record of who is married for various purposes, but the church (or any religion) should be the one who determines marriages. Getting the state involved in a religious matter is what has gotten us into this big mess to begin with. Taxes and medical rights and all the other benefits of marriage shouldn’t be excluded to marriage. But state-sanctioned marriage includes so much now, it would be near-impossible to free marriage of the state’s hold. And it would be cruel to deny anyone access to all the special rights the state grants married people.
Marriage licenses in America picked up steam in the early twentieth century as a way to prohibit whites from marrying minorities. So basically, the state took over for bigoted reasons. That’s not a tradition I want to continue. I take marriage seriously. That said, if I exchange vows in a Church ceremony and never get a state license, I won’t consider myself any less married. The state means nothing to a covenant between two people. If a man and a man or a woman and a woman or a man and two women want to make a covenant to one another, they should, as long as they take their vows seriously.
In short, this is an ugly battle because it affects so many people's lives in a deeply personal way. And as it plays out on my newsfeed, please follow Wheaton's Law: don't be dick.