Leave Marriage to Organized Religions, and Civil Unions to the State

The people of Maine have decided by a mere majority that two individuals of the same gender cannot be married in their state. This same result has so far happened in every state that has passed legislation to permit and recognize same-sex marriage. The tyranny of the majority is alive and well.

What is peculiar is that, while we do not engage in a direct democracy form of government, important matters often do get decided by a popular vote. "Majority Rule" appears to be in direct conflict with the representative republic that we ascribe to even in our Pledge of Allegiance. But this would be a discussion unto itself.

Government should not be involved in marriage. The word "marriage" has both civil and religious connotations, and for a diverse people, the problem of disentangling these for purposes of public policy is intractable. In other words, when someone utters the word "marriage", different people hear and understand different things, and the inability to enter into a debate with a shared understanding of what's being debated will have a fruitless result.

The states and our federal government should perform and/or recognize civil unions only; and they should all set aside marriage as a religious concept that takes place entirely outside the sphere of public policy. Thus the state could not affect the "sanctity of marriage" argued by some; the state is not placed in the position of designating people as married when that marriage may conflict with the beliefs of a religion; and people are free to affiliate with religions that they feel have an agreeable concept of marriage. Only then can we begin a constructive debate about the rights of individuals to enter into a union together.

Our alternative is to wait as public opinion continues its apparent movement towards acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriage, with the possible result that the majority may again rule, but contrary to previous referenda.

08-Nov-2009 Title edited