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MARRIAGE: Keep religion out of civil matter

Letter by Elizabeth A. Werth, Spanaway on Feb. 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm with 48 Comments »
February 21, 2012 2:20 pm

Re: “Exemptions shouldn’t be necessary” (letter, 2-7 12).

The writer says, “The mere fact that the law requires (religious) exemptions suggests that it is unconstitutional.” The letter also used the term, “the gospel of political correctness,” to refer to the gay marriage law.

Exemptions have always been necessary with reference to religious ideas because the United States is a secular country. We recognize the right of religions to exercise their beliefs even when  that belief constitutes discrimination. If making such an exemption were unconstitutional then religious organizations would pay taxes or have female clergy, etc.

The author says that the state is making a law making an establishment of religion, and refers to it as the gospel of political correctness. I fail to see how recognizing the civil rights of a group of people by the state falls into that category, but I have long ago stopped trying to follow the tortured reasoning of those who are in favor of discrimination in the name of religion. I would remind this author that before the Civil War, Christians in the South used religion to justify slavery.

This law requires nothing from religious people other than that they mind their own business, which is religion, and to leave civil rights to the civil authorities and the Constitution.


Leave a comment Comments → 48
  1. aislander says:

    Seems to me that those agitating for changing the definition of marriage were the ones not minding their own business…

  2. old_benjamin says:

    One wonders where the right to same-sex marriage comes from. If I knew, I’d use the same logic to procalim my right to a vacation on the French Rivera. Someone, please help.

  3. old_benjamin says:

    proclaim…French Riviera

  4. SandHills says:

    The gay agenda folks want to distance their particular – excuse me, peculiar – desire to marry thsoe of their own sex from those who desire tonhave sex with children, or other animals.

    Given laws have been taken off the books that made sodomy a crime, and added hate-crime laws that make it an added penalty than regular assault if a gay gets assaulted, AND the PC mafia who would like to make any form of anti-gay opinions a crime (if at least not as taboo as the “N” word) – adults already have the fredom to engage in their deviant sexual desires in regards to another cross-wired adult willing to accomodate them.

    Gays want us to believe that society should accept their abnormal sexual desires – then push further for society to now accept that the sanctity of marriage should be granted them as a civil right. They also want us to believe that their aims do not include those who are also cross-wired sexually who want to engage in sex with children or animals.

    But once we cross the threshold of acceptance of same-sex marriage, the barriers to other social norms held by the majority would have been breached. Once the claim that a deviant sexual desire can be a case of civil rights being denied by the majority of society, why couldn’t the man-boy love group? And if people are free to torture animals for everything PETA holds evil (not just medical testing, but how animals are slaughtered for food), why couldn’t animals be used to satisfy cross-wired sexual desires – or that the institution of marriage be granted to those who thave stronger emotiional ties to their pets than other humans?

  5. According to aislander’s logic, folks agitating for changing the definition of equality at a time when equality meant “separate but equal”, should have been minding their own business.

    And to old ben, you have every right to proclaim your right to a French Riveria vacation. Just schedule, pay, and begone. Begone, I say!

  6. The definition of marriage hasn’t changed. Marriage isn’t about sex. It’s about commitment.

  7. Don’t plumbers and electricians use “male” and “female” to distinguish between parts that are supposed to go together, and isn’t that ‘marriage?”

    Speaking of plumbing, things don’t work well when it’s male + male. Perhaps there’s a lesson in this, the most mundane of illustrations.

  8. Cardinous says:

    So now plumbing and electrical contracting terms are sacred?

    Funny how all of these heterosexual people are experts on the sexual activities of homosexuals. Kinda makes you wonder where they got their experience to speak about what works and what doesn’t. It also makes you wonder why so many of the sexual activities of heteros are the same as homosexuals.

    Meanwhile the fixation with lesbian sex is so strong in the heterosexual male that Republicans were caught using money that they shouldn’t to view the action. How’s that wiring working?

    I met a 6’10” transvestite years ago. He said he was hetero, but loved to “play dress up”. The facinating part was him telling us about all the allegedly hetero men that hit on him. They figured they could get away with a “free one” (homosexual activity they pretend is female).

    So….I think I know more now about what the letter writer was saying:

    “This law requires nothing from religious people other than that they mind their own business”

  9. Cardinous says:

    “They also want us to believe that their aims do not include those who are also cross-wired sexually who want to engage in sex with children or animals.”

    Rather than running around looking ridiculous and declaring all sorts of false ideas, we might turn to the computer in front of us for education:


    98% of the boys in the study were molested by heterosexuals. Of that number, 75% were molested by heterosexual males KNOWN TO THE VICTIMS in an incestuous scenario.

    99.5% of the girls in the study were molested by heterosexuals. Out of that number, 80% were
    molested by heterosexuals KNOWN TO THE VICTIMS in an incestuous scenario.

    Education can be dangerous to a rotting mind.

  10. old_benjamin, “One wonders where the right to same-sex marriage comes from.”

    Here is how I see it, and how I think the Supreme Court will see it based on past marriage cases.

    In numerous cases, the Supreme Court said that marriage is a basic human right that existed before the Constitution and had existed in various configurations for various purposes throughout history. Some of these purposes included the determination of property and inheritance rights, the development of the basic units of democracy, the rearing and teaching of children, etc.

    Government can not limit who gets married or for what purposes unless there is a bona fide reason to declare that certain marriages will harm the people involved, would harm other people or would harm our democracy.

    In several cases the Supreme Court declared that people have a right whom to choose to marry and that right may not be abridged by any state unless it causes harm. The court threw out any defense of laws that curtailed the rights of people to choose whom to marry based on religion, community standards, majority beliefs, tradition, etc.

    However, in cases before the court, it said that states could set age limits because marriage with underage people could be limited. States could require both parties to be able to understand and legally sign the contract.

    Marriage among close relatives might harm our democracy by limiting property and inheritance issues and might harm the children from such marriages intellectually and from other inherited conditions. Polygamy could be denied because it harms the foundations of our democracy (the explanation on that is many pages long, read the cases).

    Interracial marriage, although considered against God’s will, against the Bible and abhorrant by Christians and against majority opinion in many states could not be denied for those reasons, nor could any marriage law use those reasons to deny people being able to choose whom to marry.

    Both the due process clauses and the equal protection clauses were cited as Constitutional principles when defining marriage.

    Does that help you understand where many people think the right to amrriage comes from?

    I do not think anone’s religious beliefs, personal disgust at imagined sexual acts that may be a part of a marriage or any majority vote will be able to limit gay marriage. I think defenders of laws that restrict marriage to a man and a woman will have to show that same-sex marriage somehow harms the people involoved, or harms other people or harms our democracy.

  11. Hey sozo, you know the great thing about those petitions that get sent around to gather enough signatures for referendums on stuff like laws getting passed on, oh I don’t know, domestic partnerships or marriage equality? Like the one that tried to gather enough signatures on Referendum 71 awhile ago? All of those signatures, printed names and home addresses are public record. The great thing about the technology we have now is that someone can put in a public records request, analyze all the data, and put it up online in a searchable database for everyone to see.

    You don’t get to hide from the fact that you added your signature to a referendum proposal that was aimed at reversing the domestic partnership law and you won’t get to hide when the new one inevitably comes around for the recent marriage equality law. That information will be archived forever for all your friends and neighbors to see. When school kids are looking back at history 50 years from now, there will be no difference between people like you and those that opposed interracial marriage and desegregation.

  12. aislander says:

    Nice threat.

    Anti-miscegenation laws are not analogous to retaining the actual definition of marriage for all the reasons that have been cited on this forum in numerous threads on this divisive issue.

    Men and women are fundamentally different, while there is no such fundamental difference between races.

    What do you have to be afraid of from a referendum, if you are so sure of your righteousness?

  13. In no way did I make a threat, I was simply informing sozo and yourself and anyone else who would seek to create and sustain second-class citizens of individuals because aspects out of their control make you uncomfortable. The time of these nonsense religious-based laws has come to an end and like I said, you are on the wrong side of history.

    I appreciate the clarification on the fact that men and women are fundamentally different, however that is of no relevance. Indeed, there is exactly the same amount of objective fact in the concept of marriage as there is race: none. Both of these aspects are completely socially constructed and no matter how many times you regurgitate stuff like tradition or “my god says so” or how you believe the sole purpose of marriage is procreation, or you need a man and a woman to raise a child, it’s not going to make things any different.

    Race has been used as justification for the horrendous treatment our ancestors perpetrated against Native Americans, forcing black people into slavery and other incredibly inhumane treatments, lynchings, segregation, genocide, and countless other evils in the world. Even though one is not likely to be able to get away with blatantly discriminating against another person because of the color of their skin, racism is still extremely prevalent to this day.

    So how can you try and tell me that the discriminating against individuals through the use of what you consider the “correct” socially constructed version of marriage to be is any different than what took place with regard to race? You are using this aspect to perpetrate your bigotry against people who are different from you, what is referred to as “the Other”.

    I am unsure as to why you included your last quip, did I say I was afraid? I’m merely pointing out the hypocrisy from people such as yourself who keep harping on the fact that you’re fine with homosexual couples from having all the rights associated with marriage without calling it that, yet you added your names to petitions gathering signatures in order to revoke even those rights. You try and play it off like the only aspect you care about is the title of being a “married couple” but no more than 3 years ago you were demanding that homosexual couples not be allowed any of the rights either. This clearly shows the kind of intolerance and fear of those that are different that is present in so many religious circles of individuals such as yourself.

  14. Where are the defenders of religious right’s rights when it comes to Fundamentalist LDS? Why aren’t you complaining that the State has interfered with traditional, religious definition of marriage by outlawing polygamy?

  15. Pacman33 says:

    turki attests –
    “…. but no more than 3 years ago you were demanding that homosexual couples not be allowed any of the rights either.”

    Wasn’t that when gay “union” advocates insisted opponents were paranoid slippery-slope theorists for suggesting it would only lead to gay “marriage”?

    Sexual preference is a characteristic of one’s behavior. Race/skin color, gender, etc. are immutable, benign non-behavioral characteristics. The comparison of the two is preposterous. Regardless of the deplorable campaign of rampant dishonesty by the radical movement, there has never been any evidence proving that sexual preference is genetic in origin.

    Furthermore, it is racist, degrading and down right offensive to compare the struggles and sacrifices for civil rights and amazingly, genocide, to gays hiding behind the skirt of government to force acceptance of their lifestyle on the public. A government who’s officials were coerced with the same vile rhetoric you spew to force the unprecedented recognition of a citizen’s identity by their lifestyle or behavioral traits. All in the name of their contrived right to “marriage”.

    Could you possibly be more insulting than comparing minorities ethnicity to a behavior?

  16. “Speaking of plumbing, things don’t work well when it’s male + male. Perhaps there’s a lesson in this, the most mundane of illustrations.”

    The lesson is don’t confuse plumbing with love and marriage.

  17. I still do not understand how anyone else’s marriage will have an impact on my own marriage and family? Or how what happens in one’s matrimonial bed will have a consequential impact on me?

  18. Furthermore, it is racist…..

    Says the straight white male….

    Could you possibly be more insulting than comparing minorities ethnicity to a behavior

    Says the king of ad hominem attacks….

  19. “Speaking of plumbing, things don’t work well when it’s male + male.”

    So you’ve tried it and you know?
    I am thinking you used the wrong coupling…

  20. Cardinous says:

    tburki – it is rather ironic that those who so strongly oppose same sex marriage, seem reluctant to be identified for their opposition.

    I noted on another thread, that I’d look at a petition, if asked to sign, to see who in my community had signed it, and I was also accused of “threats”. Funny, I thought I was just exercising my freedom to know which of my neighbors I wanted to shun. After all, they claim the right to choose their friends, I would think I have the same right.

    Strange how they would feel threatened by someone choosing to not associate with them.

  21. Cardinous says:

    “there has never been any evidence proving that sexual preference is genetic in origin”

    Thus Pacman made a choice to be hetero (allegedly). I wonder what he was prior to the choice.

    “Could you possibly be more insulting than comparing minorities ethnicity to a behavior?”

    So, heterosexuality is a behavior? Fasinating.

  22. old_benjamin says:

    tuddo, none of the history and prcedents you cited raised the issue of same-sex marriage. What is before us now is a fundamental redefiniton of the very essence of marriage–a contract between a man and a woman. That isn’t necessary. Same-sex unions provide essentially the same advantages (and disadvantages) as does conventional marriage. The argument is really over what to call same-sex marriages. Whatever you call it, it isn’t the same as a union that produces offspring, and that distinction has profound societal consequences. Yes, two men or two women can raise a child, but they can’t create one. That difference goes to the very root of civil society. I for one prefer to keep that difference in the forefront of any discussion of the marital relationaship. Perhaps the courts will not. So much the worse for this country.

  23. it isn’t the same as a union that produces offspring,

    Neither of my two heterosexual “unions” produced offspring – I still call them marriages.

  24. That difference goes to the very root of civil society.

    So early Israeli experiments with kibbutz communal living were – at the root – not attempts at a civil society?

    Dude – there are plenty of societies that are far more civil than ours that do not utilize the nuclear family unit as the primary model.

  25. old_benjamin says:

    cirrus, thanks, but I can’t afford a Riviera vacation. Since it is my right, the government must see to it that I get one–just as it must see to it that you can marry someone of the same sex, because it is your right See how tht works?

  26. I am reposting the following here from another thread, because it seems more appropriate here.

    My basic question is: When religion is brought up in the “Marriage Debate” why is it ONLY Christian marriage rules that count? That’s kind of bigoted isn’t it?


    When it comes to religious marriage, is Christian marriage the ONLY religious standard that all people must abide by? From reading these blogs one would certainly get that impression.

    What about Muslim marriage, or Hindu marriage. Should those be considered?

    Or perhaps Jewish marriage? Mazel tov!

    Maybe we should set the Shinto marriage as the religious standard. I hear it’s a very beautiful ceremony.

    There are also Bahai, and Sikh religious marriages. Better consider those too, right?

    How many religions are there anyway? How many of them have marriage ceremonies and rules about marriage?

    What the heck are we supposed to do when a Hindu wants to marry a Jew? Which religious marriage laws rule that combination?

    You see, there are basically only two categories or marriage.

    1. Religious Marriage, (See above).


    2. Civil Marriage (Non-religious government recognized for legal purposes only.)

    The Washington state Same-Sex Marriage Law falls only under category 2. You don’t have to keep religion out of it, because there is NO religion in it. It is simply state law. So, what’s the problem with that?


    Perhaps we can simply adopt The Buddhist view of marriage for everyone, regardless of their personal religious beliefs, because Buddhists consider marriage to be a secular affair and as such, it is not considered a sacrament. Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments. And that should include same-sex marriage in Washington state.


  27. old_benjamin says:

    Bb, the point is that your marriages were/are in principle capable of producing offspring. Law doesn’t concern itself with every conceivable individual difference in the population. Obamacare requires that I get health insurance whether I am Bill Gates or a guy living on the street because in either case I am in principle going to need health care. That’s all the government cares about.

    There are no societies on this planet that don’t need a man and a woman to produce offspring. Yes, some societies place more emphasis on the nuclear family than others. How well they function is another issue. Western society has for all intents and purposes favored the model of the nuclear family. Those of us of in the Conservative ranks want to preserve that tradition. It isn’t perfect, but no alternative has proven to be better. Messing with mother nature usually doesn’t turn out very well.

  28. old_benjamin says:

    muck, you missed the point. Marriage is a contract between a man and woman, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or of no religion. If a Muslim wants to marry a Jew, fine. If a Christian wants to marry an atheist, fine. If they have no faith, fine. Our law places no restriction on anyone’s faith. It does on one’s sex because the very essence of marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It has been so since time immemorial. Don’t monekey with it.

  29. Well guess what Cardinous, today’s your lucky day. Head on over to WhoSigned.org and you can access the complete database of individuals who added their signatures to attempt to repeal the domestic partnership rights of homosexual couples. The great thing about it is that you can search for a name or an address, as well as being able to filter by city or zip code. Individuals who would seek to limit the rights of another human being because of aspects that are out of their control deserve to be publicly shamed.

  30. alindasue says:

    beerBoy said, “Where are the defenders of religious right’s rights when it comes to Fundamentalist LDS?”

    The big problem I see with the FLDS, and why I support their leader being in jail, is not that they practice plural marriage. It’s that they put teen girls who are too young to give legal consent into marriage type situations. Statutory rape is statutory rape, no matter what the religious claims of the offending person or group.

    It makes sense to have laws that protect vulnerable populations who are not able to make a choice to give legal consent. However, when it comes to consenting adults, the government should have no place in telling people who they can and can’t marry.

    No, I don’t approve of homosexual relationships or any other “free love” type relationships, as is part of is my religious beliefs. However, in order to preserve the religious freedoms that I and all Americans enjoy, we have to keep our religious beliefs from dictating law. I think muckibr made that case quite plainly in his post.

  31. old_benjamin, yours is a modern-day definition of marriage that forgets about all of the past definitions of marriage that did include same-sex marriages, polygamy, etc. Even the Catholic Church had written rites and sanctified same-sex marriages until the 12th century.

    Just by your say-so doesn’t make your beliefs factual. I respect your beliefs, you don’t have to believe in same-sex marriages. However, you do realize that it is a belief based on your religion and nothing more.

    I base my belief that we should respect same-sex marriages on my Christian beliefs, too, and my interpretation of the Bible, which is supported by many religions and many current theologians of prestigious rank and just as valid as yours in our country.

    I base my opinion of what the USA should do legally to respect equal protection under the law on the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t define marriage as only one man and one woman, either, and no Supreme Court decision has either.

  32. old_benjamin says:

    Dang, I just checked the Who signed list, and my name wasn’t on it. Now I am ashamed.

  33. Old_ben,
    Even if you repeat it many times, you cannot make “traditionally, marriages were mostly between a man and a woman” into “marriage *has to* be between a man and a woman”. There is no connection nor basis for the logical conversion. It is only because you want it to be so.

  34. old_benjamin says:

    tuddo, I seriously doubt the Catholic church ever sanctioned same-sex marriage. Source please.

    As for all the combinations and permuations that may have been tried over the centuries, that doesn’t prove anything. Slavery was tried too. Does that mean we should bring it back? Over the millenia, marriage has been in the vast majority of cases between a man and a woman. That is the basis for my view, not religious dogma. Religion simply validates the experience and judgement of countless millions throughout history. I don’t think that judgment was mistaken.

  35. old_ben, I think “you missed the point. Marriage is a contract”

    You almost had it, but then you tacked-on that extra bit that doesn’t work here in Washington state, anymore.

    As a “contract” it is governed by state law and can be entered into by two consenting adults. Under current state law, not yet taken effect however, the parties to the marriage “contract” can be of the same-sex. That’s the state law on contractual marriage.

    You want to talk about religious marriage, let’s talk about one of the others besides Christian marriage for a change, okay? There are other religious marriage rules besides Christian you know! Why do people keep ignoring them?

  36. old_benjamin says:

    roussir, right you are. I want it to be so. In my judgement, society is best served by maintaining the definition of marriage as is. No, tradition doesn’t necessitate that things stay as they are. We are free to make as many mistakes as we want to. What we aren’t free to do is avoid the consequences.

  37. old_benjamin says:

    muck, we are talking about whether the contract law should have been changed, right?

    Sure, there are marriage traditions within other religions besides Christianity. Which ones condone same-sex marriage?

  38. old_benjamin says:

    I would ask why FLDS can’t engage in polygamy. I don’t condone it for several reasons, not all of which are religious, but, why, if a man can marry a woman, can’t he marry two women? Isn’t that a “right” too?

  39. old_benjamin says:

    Should have read “if a man can marry a man, can’t a man marry two women?”

  40. Those of us of in the Conservative ranks want to preserve that tradition

    The biggest threat to “traditional” marriage isn’t same-sex marriage. It is divorce. Until, and unless, the “protection of marriage” folks put in as much time, money and energy into preventing divorce as they do in preventing same-sex marriages I really have no reason to believe that their efforts are truly motivated by protecting marriage. Especially since so many of them go off on anti-homosexual rants when the topic arises.

  41. o_b, I will pretend that your question was genuine and not just a “slippery slope” one meant to discredit same-sex marriages.

    As alindasue points out, the biggest problem with FLDS isn’t that the marriage contract isn’t exclusive to one man/one woman (and hence is really a traditional Biblical arrangement) but that it involves children being forced into marriage and therefore is not a contract between consenting adults. (FLDS male children also had some issues with the fact that all of the females of their age group were unable to compete for brides against the clan elders).

    So, long story short, as long as it involves consenting adults – there really is nothing wrong with it.

  42. old_benjamin, “source please”: John Boswell, Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe


    The result of twelve years of research, Same Sex Unions in Premodern Europe focuses on Boswell’s discovery of Catholic and Orthodox liturgies for same-sex unions, here translated into English for the first time. These ceremonies, which were performed throughout Christendom into modern times, are shown to bear striking resemblance to heterosexual nuptial services. Boswell traces same-sex unions from Platonic Greece, where the bonding of brotherly equals was considered the noblest form of human contact; to Rome, with its elaborate systems of legal adoption; to Christianized Europe, in which moral ambivalence toward human sexuality of any kind gradually gave way to intolerance, but not before the Church created liturgies to bless loving unions both straight and gay. The analysis required to place these ceremonies in their proper context makes this book a virtual history of the roots of all modern marriages. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe demonstrates that same-sex relationships have been sanctioned and even idealized in Western societies for over two thousand years.

  43. Old_ben
    Why not poly?
    First, because of clearly negative impact on society (disbalance of individuals in a relationship, usually males; social tension, etc.)

    Second, practicallity – the personal and legal arrangement will be nightmare.
    Judging from my superficial impressions from the polyamori society, it’s not easy, and is not for everyone.

    And these are only the ones the I can come up with.

  44. these are just the ones I can come up with

  45. It is painfully obvious that all y’all complaining about homosexual marriage are against it for the simple reason that you find what homosexuals do in the bedroom to be disgusting and perverted. Period. It’s not some nonsense about the definition of marriage, or procreation, yada yada yada. Y’all just plain don’t like homosexuals. For goodness sake, own it.

  46. old_ban “Sure, there are marriage traditions within other religions besides Christianity. Which ones condone same-sex marriage?”

    It does NOT matter which, if any, of the other religious beliefs condone same-sex marriage.

    Washington state law is NOT religious law, and Washington state law does condone same-sex marriage.

  47. alindasue says:

    roussir said, “Why not poly?
    First, because of clearly negative impact on society (disbalance of individuals in a relationship, usually males; social tension, etc.)”

    During the short time in the 1800s when some members of the LDS church, including the prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, practiced polygamy, there was already a severe male/female imbalance in society due to wars killing off so many of the men. (That’s why at the same time so many women were willing to ship to Seattle to be brides – but that’s another tale.) Polygamy (and other measures, like the Seattle brides) during that time in history was needed to help restore the balance.

    While it is currently not needed – and hasn’t been allowed in the church for over a hundred years – the Bible is full of examples where prophets and others had been instructed to take more than one wife. There was no degradation to society because of it.

    Perhaps you are looking at the FLDS example and drawing your conclusions from that? There is a huge difference between “unrighteous dominion” over women and statutory rape (the FLDS leader’s example) and consenting adults choosing to be together in a family.

  48. So let me get this right, Alindasue. “[T]he Bible is full of examples where prophets and others had been instructed to take more than one wife. There was no degradation to society because of it.” So I’m sure you have read your Christian bible thoroughly and are familiar will all the different types of marriages that characters were made by the Christian god to take.

    You would be cognizant of the fact that these included:

    Marriage between one man, one woman and the son she she seduces after he has killed his brother (Genesis 4:1)

    Marriage between one man and his sister (Genesis 16:3)

    Marriage between one man and the unmarried virgin he has raped (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

    Marriage between men who have kidnapped ever virgin in a town after slaughtering all the men and non-virgins (Judges 21:7-23)

    Marriage between one man and eight wives and a ludicrous amount of palace concubines (1 Chronicles 3:1-9 and 2 Samuel 16:21)

    Marriage between one man and 700 wives and 300 palace concubines (1 Kings 11:3)

    Of course we all know that there was never a marriage between one man and another man or one woman and another woman, for that would be immoral.

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