How to End the Gay Marriage Debate

Marriage is, and always has been, a religious issue.  For thousands of years, this sacred union between one man and one woman was presided over, and solely administered by, religious authorities (i.e. a priest, pastor, imam, rabbi, or the like), and remained relatively free of secular influence. Over the course of the past century, however, secular governments, with overwhelming support from the liberal community, have attempted to redefine marriage, ignoring both religious freedom and the separation of church and state in the process. The social crusade to legalize gay marriage in the United States is a prime example of the state over-stepping its constitutional bounds and defiling religious freedom.

As noted earlier, marriage has always been a religious ceremony presided over by a religious authority; the idea of a government “marrying” a couple and pronouncing them “man and wife” is a relatively new phenomenon. Nevertheless, over the past several decades, secular “marriages” have become socially acceptable and, in many cases, de rigueur in Western government.

In spite of this, the question remains as to how the government has the power to both confer and define marriage, a union that until recently was exclusively religious. The simple answer to this question is that the government does not have the legal power to define an institution that is, in and of itself, religious. As the Bill of Rights states, Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Considering the modern idea of marriage was birthed in ancient Israel by the Jewish tradition, it would be ridiculous to argue that marriage is a secular issue; it is, for all intents and purposes, a religious ceremony first implemented by one of the world’s oldest religious sects.

Consequently, considering matrimony’s undeniable religious roots, it is apparent that marriage is not a secular issue, and as a result, secular governments do not have the right to interfere with its definition.

This realization led me to an astounding conclusion, and one that I believe can solve the issue of gay marriage once and for all.

The United States government, as I’ve repeatedly said, does not have the legal authority to interfere in religious issues. Because marriage is a religious issue, the government does not have the authority to define or confer a marital union. However, the government does have the right to issue/confer civil unions, because, by definition, a civil union is a union presided over by a civil authority (i.e. the government). Thus, to be clear, the government cannot define/confer marriage but it can define/confer civil unions.

Therefore, I propose the following: the federal government may define civil unions in any way it pleases. They may define them as unions between two people of the opposite sex, two people of the same sex, and/or anything else our lawmakers can come up with. Additionally, every civil union would carry with it all the economic benefits that currently come with a legal marriage. In this way, same-sex couples would be given the same financial benefits as heterosexual couples. These unions would not be recognized as legal marriages. Instead, they would be recognized as something different; for example, the French call these civil unions “civil solidarity pacts.”

If two people want to go further however, and enter into “marriage,” they would have to approach a religious institution. After being wed by a religious authority, such a couple would be recognized, by law, as having been “married.” It should be noted that, in an attempt to increase efficiency, any couple that chooses to be married by a religious authority would, with their consent, also enter into a legally-recognized civil union.

To summarize, my proposal states the following: the federal government may define a civil union however it wishes and confer that union upon any individual(s). This union would carry with it all the economic benefits that currently come with a legal marriage. However, if a couple wanted to be “married,” they would have to go through a religious institution.

As I’ve said many times before, the government has neither the right to define marriage nor confer it; only religious authorities have the power to “marry” a couple. That doesn’t mean the government cannot bring two people together in a secular union, however; civil unions give our government the power to do just that. As is the case in nations like Great Britain and France, these unions would grant homosexual couples the same rights as heterosexual couples but would not be considered “marriage.”

In my opinion, this is the only logical way forward. By distinguishing civil unions from marriage, the separation of church and state remains intact. I sincerely hope that a common sense proposal similar to my own is signed into law sooner rather than later, for doing so would curb secular debate on same-sex unions and finally return the power to marry to religious institutions.