Why Blocking Marriage Equality Isn’t About “Religious Freedom”

A recent article in the Kennebec Journal has same-sex marriage opponents up in arms, because the Secretary of State phrased the question simply and plainly:

“Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

They had wanted the more convoluted question that had appeared on petitions earlier in the year, which phrased the issue in terms of “religious freedom” and clergy being forced to perform same-sex marriages.

The problem is, this is blatant misdirection.  In none of the states that currently allow same-sex marriage is any clergy being forced to perform a marriage ceremony that violates their beliefs or the beliefs of their church.  And this isn’t going to happen, even if same-sex marriage becomes legal throughout the country.

Currently, no Catholic priest is forced to perform a marriage ceremony between two people who have previously married and divorced.  Not a one.  This is because it would violate his faith and the tenets of the Catholic church.  Similarly, a Jewish Rabbi isn’t forced to marry people who aren’t Jewish.  Religious freedom is already enshrined in our system of law and same-sex marriage poses no threat to it.

On the other hand, any religious group that demands same-sex marriage be illegal in a particular state is a very real threat to religious freedom.  No group or groups of religious people, even if they are in the majority, should have the right to impose their belief system onto people who don’t follow their faith.  There are other religious groups in Maine (and all over the country) — Wiccan, Unitarian, Episcopal, and others — who do consider same-sex marriage to be in concordance with their religious beliefs.

Yet their religious freedom is curtailed by the Christian groups who continue to oppose making it legal, on the basis that allowing it would somehow “violate” their religious freedom.  And in fact, it would not.

It’s a blatant lie.

This post is part of the YAM LGBT 2012 Blogathon.

3 thoughts on “Why Blocking Marriage Equality Isn’t About “Religious Freedom”

  1. Very good point. If fact, NO priest, minister, or other religious figure can be forced to conduct a marriage ceremony.
    Marriage has, for the last 500 years or so, commonly (but not necessarily) been blessed by a religious organization. But it is the State that determines if a marriage is legal, and the State designates who can conduct a marriage. A judge or JP can perform a civil ceremony. A religious figure can also conduct the ceremony, but only if that minister/priest is registered with the State. Also, the people getting married have to get a marriage license from the State, in order for the marriage to be legal. Marriage is at its core a civil, legal contract.
    Those who want to can dress it up as a religious ceremony. That’s fine, and the ability to do so is considered part of religious freedom. But to insist that everyone else follow the rules of their religion is not religious freedom; it is the opposite. It is religiously based oppression.

  2. Pingback: A Word about Gay Marriage and Religious Rights « The Dad Poet

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