A fair number of Americans are justifying marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian people by making references to their religious beliefs. Take fundamentalist Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who recently sent this message to sympathetic Maine churches from his post in Washington, DC, urging them to ban same-sex marriage in the state:
Since America’s beginning, our society has defined marriage like the Bible does: a relationship between one man and one woman…. Well, you the people of Maine need to decide what constitutes marriage. Not a group of unelected judges or pandering politicians who are often quick to bow to the wishes of a radical minority bent on redefining God’s standard.
Get that? According to Tony Perkins, marriage should reflect what’s in the Bible and what God’s standard is. Well, actually, no, that’s not quite right. According to Tony Perkins, marriage should reflect what he says is in the Bible and what he says God’s standard is.
You see, there are other religious interpretations out there. Last Friday, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations issued a statement in which it declared its religious support for same-sex marriage and its religious opposition to a gay marriage ban:
I call upon supportive Mainers to reaffirm their commitment to fairness for all families by voting against repeal of the legislation recognizing same-sex marriage.
I know that Unitarian Universalists in Maine will continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for equality. Commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person is at the core of Unitarian Universalism, and Unitarian Universalists in Maine have a strong history of support for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) rights. In 1996, the Unitarian Universalist Association called for full legal recognition for same-sex couples nationwide, and our faith community has advocated in support of marriage equality ever since. We will continue this witness in Maine in the coming months.
Unitarian Universalists will stand on the side of love. I invite you to stand with us.
Get that? According the UUA, “commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person is at the core of Unitarian Universalism,” and from that religious standpoint stems their NO on Question 1 stance.
So now you’ve got some religious groups against same-sex marriage, and you’ve got other religious groups in favor of same-sex marriage, and the opposing religious groups are grounding their arguments in religious terms.
If you think marriage laws in American government should be religiously grounded, then you’re going to put American government in the role of deciding which religions are right and which religions are wrong.
If you don’t want American government to be put in the role of deciding which religions are right and which religions are wrong, then marriage laws in American government should not be religiously grounded.
That means they should be grounded in something else. I suggest the Constitution:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.