The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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That Pesky First Amendment

Posted by ALmod on June 23, 2009

So here’s the argument:  The definition of “marriage” should be left to religious groups who believe that it is defiined by one man and one woman while the government handles “civil unions.”

So here’s the problem:  To do that and put it into law, the federal government must specify which religious definition of “marriage” to use, and in order to do that, Congress would have to make a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” as it would very clearly establish one religious definition over several others– including some Christian groups.

Currently, the states handle the definitions under which they grant marriage certificates, but should any seperate marriage from civil union, they would be left with a very possible court challenge regarding the First Amendment.  At least, in the wording, it cannot state that marriage is defined by any religious means.  If it hasn’t happened yet, it will eventually.

The only way that this could be avoided is if the state issued “certificates of legal union” as opposed to “marriage certificates” to all legal unions– including religious heterosexual ones.  Certificates of marriage would have to be distributed by religious institutions, and they could not be exclusive to any one religious group.  This includes religious organizations which have no issue with homosexual marriage or polygamy.  Further, “marriage” could carry no additional privileges under any state or federal law.  To allow anything else leaves the law open to challenge as an establishment of one religion over another.

So my question is to other heterosexuals out there who use the above argument.  Would you have an issue with the government issuing you a “certificate of legal union” rather than a “certificate of marriage” with all religious institutions (including those who support gay marriage) being able to distribute the latter?  If so, do you feel that a “certificate of legal union” would be inferior to a “certificate of marriage” or the ability for other institutions to distribute “certificates of marriage” would cheapen it?  And if that is the case, do you feel that to say as much brings the “seperate but equal” argument into play with the gay marriage issue?


4 Responses to “That Pesky First Amendment”

  1. BrokeSnake said

    Morality aside, as that is what most who oppose this stand on…. what are the legal ramifications in regards to insurance coverage and the like that would come with this proposal?

    It seems that most who oppose gay marriage do not oppose it because of the title you may give the marriage, but because it is wrong in and of itself, according to their moral, religious proclivities. This does nothing to solve that for those people.

  2. ALmod said

    I’m not sure how to answer that, to be honest. Insurance companies are private businesses and don’t necessarily fall under the Constitution’s “Congress shall make no law” clause. As it stands, they can pretty much offer whatever coverage they want– or not offer it (which is part of the problem with our health care system, but that’s another matter).

  3. BrokeSnake said

    Well, I want to say matters like insurance coverage are at the heart of the matter for those same sex couples who want to be recognized legally as a married couple, in every State because otherwise, if the marriage is not legal there are ramifications to residing in a State and getting coverage.

  4. ALmod said

    These are legal unions that I’m addressing, so the legal status of the couple would be the same as a “married” couple, only the name would be different, of course. Under the terms above, the word “marriage” would not be a legal status.

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