Same sex marriage passed in NH with the religious exception that Gov Lynch stated needed to be part of the bill before he would sign it into law. Congratulations to all the same sex couples who felt this was a step in the right direction.
I've already written about this subject once before but I'd like to expand upon it a little and hopefully get everyone who reads this to think a little about whether or not this is truly a step in the right direction or not. While I am supportive of allowing consenting adults call themselves whatever they wish and having the same rights as any other couple I am convince we're going about it the wrong way.
To start we need to go back a little ways and first recall the history of marriage and learn what marriage actually is.
Marriage has a long history as a religious union. www.USConstitution.net writes:
In modern Christianity, marriage, and the love and sex that accompanies it, is seen as a blessing from God. Children are a prime goal of marriage, and continued marriage is of importance to the continuation of the faith as children are raised by devout parents.
Islam sees marriage as so important that it does not recognize the need for clerics to be celibate as in some Christian sects, such as Catholicism. The purpose of marriage in Islam is to provide company, to encourage love, to procreate, and to live in peace under the commands of Allah.
As one final example, Hindu marriage is also found in sacred texts. It is one of the sixteen essential rituals of a person's life. Married people have responsibilities to their parents, children, to guests, the community, and to the dead. Marriage is seen as a sacred duty.
Each faith has its own version of what it means to be married but it's clear marriage has strong ties to religious faith (which explains why Lynch felt any expansion of the definition of marriage needed a religious exception to allow it to follow the US Constitutional clause in regards to freedom of religon).
The question is why then did governments get involved in the marriage business? The answer I direct you back to the same link which gives 5 benefits of marriage to society:
- Known, or at least presumed, paternity
- Child and spousal support
- Stability in family life
- Survivor's rights
Not all of these require marriage. There is no secular need for marriage to have procreation, for example. But without marriage, paternity could be difficult to discern, making child support difficult to manage.
With the exception to survivor rights, the reason for government to be involved in marriage all centered around children. Since two men or two women do not have the correct mix of body parts necessary to produce a child together the only real benefit to them would be survivor's rights.
That alone is a very big reason to allow same sex couples access to in this case the benefit allowed to other couples but let's dive deeper.
As time went on Government began issuing license for marriage taking away a freedom people could do on their own and replacing it with a process in which government had to give permission before you could walk into your church and have a religious ceremony performed. Without this license your marriage, which may be all good and well in God's eyes is not considered valid and thus any couple (man and women or same sex) had a very basic right of freedom of religion taken from them and replaced by a government defined right.
Government however focusing solely on the benefits to a society (as listed above) choose to define a marriage as a man and a women. They further limited marriage to exclude marriages between people who were related to one another because of the dangers posed to any offspring they may have.
As government expanded the benefits and privileges associated with marriage, same sex couples cried out that they too wanted these rights. And why shouldn't they have them. Why should anyone be able to choose someone of the opposite sex to make life or death choices and share finances with yet someone else with inclinations toward someone of the same sex not be extended those same benefits?
This was solved however with the introduction of civil unions. Governments allowed same sex couples to entered into a civil union and gain all the non child bearing benefits that were created over the years. So shouldn't this be acceptable? Sure its acceptable in the way blacks were given water fountains to drink from but they were black only fountains while whites had different fountains. That is that it shouldn't be acceptable. If two men wish to call themselves married and their faith allows them to call themselves married then why should they need government permission to do so? Government did not permit it. Government only permitted them to call themselves a union.
At this point I hope you, my readers, are beginning to see the problem here. By allowing government to take over this religious partnership we've basically given them the right to include or exclude whomever they wish for whatever reasoning they wish.
But the problems do not end there...
Marriage was originally defined as a man and woman by government because of the society benefits listed above mainly for bearing of children which benefits society as a whole. Government was allowed to prevent relatives from marrying because of the dangers to the children. By expanding the definition of marriage to allow same sex couples, government has essentially broken down the wall of why they became involved in defining marriage in the first place and eliminated the only true justification for preventing relatives from marrying.
What grounds would the government have now to deny a brother and sister or even two brothers from marrying if they are both of the age of consent?
We've also broken down the true reasoning for government to treat anyone differently in the first place. When the goal of government defined marriage was to produce children and benefit society many of the benefits given were to help families. Now, any two non related people can use marriage to give each other health benefits, lower tax burdens, survivor rights etc. An neighbor can now help a same sex friend living by "marrying" them allowing the other to have access to their health care and benefits. Someone dying can "marry" a friend to allow them to inherit their property as a dependent and get around some of the taxes they would have otherwise had to pay. Society has also changed in that many people are having children out of wedlock. The infamous octo-mom is raise a herd of children with no father in the picture. Women are stepping forward trying to prove that marriage is no longer necessary to raise children taking away the main justification for government's getting involved in the marriage business in the first place.
When all reasoning for having government defined marriage has been broken down and eliminated then what is left? Why have government define it at all? We've now allowed government to take over the management of what is essentially a religious union and have given them the power to give or deny that "right" to anyone for any reasoning it sees fit. That we're giving the government more control by simply expanding what they current define marriage as is no victory, it leaves same sex couples in the same boat as straight couples in that we're depending on government where we should not need their permission at all.
I leave you back where we started with a simple question... what is marriage and why do you feel you need government to approve it? The answer to that question will tell you whether or not this is a victory.