Saturday, January 3, 2009

Open Forum: Is Denying Marriage Equality Breaking First Amendment Rights?

"Religious" opponents of marriage equality often argue that their religious liberties are being infringed upon when the government or courts mandate gay marriage.

When reversing the argument it seems pretty clear that LGBTQ people of faith are having their religious liberties infringed upon by other groups who are trying to impose their own religious definitions and philosophies on a country that prides itself on religious liberties and a separation of church and state.

The first amendment clearly states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment ensures that no religion can enforce their ideals on the government, but also protects religious groups to practice the way they see fit. If conservatives want to argue that their religious rights are infringed on in the marriage battle, can't we argue on that very same premise?

Many religions are affirming of LGBT people and many include openly queer clergy as well as conduct same-sex marriages. The following religious groups are just a few of the many that are LGBT affirming: Unitarian Universalists, Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Wicca, Metropolitan Community Churches, United Church of Christ, Pagans, Episcopalians, select Native American tribes, Hindu and Buddhist sects.

With the plethora of progressive religious organizations out there who do indeed support and advocate with faith for gay marriage, isn't it a violation of their first amendment right to deny them the right to officiate and legalize these unions?


Erik Granlund said...

I was thinking the same thing...

Armando Morán said...

There is of course, the religious case for marriage between persons of the same sex. Even if we use the Bible, we ignore outdated books like Leviticus, and focus in the recommendation to marry to channel the sexual attraction, we can make a case, as it has been done in magazines like The Advocate and even in mainstream magazines like Newsweek.

However, we cannot legislate based on religion. Marriage is a license that you get from the state, independently of the religious views. Canonic Law for marriage is different than the civil Law in the Family Code, and we should not be trying to make it the same based on the first amendment.

As such, Marriage has some requirements, and one of them is that it should be between a man and a woman, at least in both States that I live, Alta California and Baja California.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, no. Speaking from a legal perspective, I'm afraid that argument doesn't work because what we're talking about here is not the expression of a belief but civil marriage. The government can't stop churches from marrying gay people, for example, nor can it say that only a certain type of religious marriage is valid. But civil marriage has nothing to do with religion - it is a legal package of rights and duties and recognition by the state that at least under the religion clauses can be regulated constitutionally by the state.

Phillip Minton said...

Thanks for this post. You saved me from having to write my own essay and post on this. I had this exact exchange with some people responding to the Newsweek article, "Our Mutual Joy." I mentioned the Constitution, and their rebuttal was that it the protection wasn't in the Constitution. I mentioned the First Amendment, and then they tried to argue that amendments are actually a part of the Constitution. I had to give up at that point - no point in arguing with someone who refuses to acknowledge that their argument is lacking.

Not Important said...

If we just created the First Church of Teh Gayz, we could even get tax exemption.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I found the following over at; lots of interesting content there.

The author of the Babylonian myth clearly lived in a pre-scientific era. So did the Hebrew copyist "P." However, human sexuality was not seriously studied until the late 19th century CE. The term "homosexual" was first used by a Karoly M. Kertbeny in private correspondence in 1868. It is only in the past half century that human sexuality researchers and mental health therapists have determined that homosexuality is an unchosen, unchangeable sexual orientation that is normal and natural for a minority of adults. It doesn't make a lot of sense for 21st century humans to blindly follow an ancient creation myth created over 3100 years ago and give it the status of divine revelation.

Equal rights for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals -- including the right to marry -- are a human rights issue. In the U.S., with its tradition of separation of church and state, we cannot allow a three millennial old Pagan myth to dictate public policy.

Anonymous said...

{SIGH} when will people just live and let live and let all people have freedom???

Anonymous said...

There's no infringement on religious freedoms because churches are allowed to practice their religion unless their religious ACTIONS are a crime (human sacrifice etc.).

The priest/pastor/rev can refuse to perform a ceremony because that violates religious freedom (personal belief). The church cannot refuse to rent a building for another rev etc. to perform the ceremony though because that falls under different laws (tax exempt laws for PUBLIC buildings). Public means ANY Tom, Dick or Harriett and building access must be equal and fair to all.

Buildings are not people and do not have personal religious beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Why is everybody bothering about someone elses choices? What is more beautiful and powerful than a mariage..and what is the problem if it is between two people who are in love from the same sex? The idea is the same!
Let people live their life!
There are more important things to worry about in life.

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