Post # 25 Civil vs Religious

It’s been an historic couple of days.   Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS from here on) heard arguments regarding Proposition 8 from California which seeks to deny legal marriage between same sex partners.  Today, SCOTUS heard arguments regarding DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which made it federal law to deny same sex partners of government employees to be eligible for benefits and legal options that were available for opposite sex spouses.  As anyone could have guessed, the christianists were out in full force spewing hatred and judgment and alienating nearly everyone within the sound of their voices.

Before I got further, I need to say it again.  When I say christianist, I am referring to those people who demonstrate by their actions and speech that while they claim to be Christians and follow the teachings and guidance of Jesus they very obviously do not and use their “faith” to browbeat and rule and tyrannize others.  I know many true Christians, and I know many true christianists.  And I don’t define a christianist as a Christian who doesn’t agree with me.  Okay, back to SCOTUS.

But not really, because this post is aimed at christianist although I don’t suppose any of them will read this.  And if by some weird circumstance they do, they certainly won’t agree with it.  But as I sort my own feelings out about the subject, I’m often moved to declare them, so here we are.

It seems like the last two or three years have been so political for me.  I was never interested in politics much.  When I first came out about seven or eight years ago, I railed at a friend because I didn’t want to be defined as gay.  I told him that there was a lot more to me than just that and I didn’t want to have to believe one thing or another just because I was now out.  Back then, I said I didn’t want to be married and that marriage wasn’t a big priority.

Well, I gotta say, my views have changed somewhat.  I believe that the GLBT community at large gets a raw deal.  Anyone perceived as being different gets short shrift in our society, but being attracted to, and loving, a person of the same sex seems to set some people’s teeth on edge and make them say and do terrible things.  Gay bashing was once considered a sport.  Many people believed we deserved it.  Even now, when hate laws are in effect and most include the gay community, several gay bashing and murder cases are successfully overturned with a “gay panic” defense.  So the big “civil rights” cause now Gay Rights.  In most cases, being discriminated against in a blatant manner for being gay can be successfully argued in a court of law and won.  But there’s another insidious side to that, and it is in the area of marriage.

In our country, if two people are married, whether in a civil or religious/civil ceremony, a legal contract is enacted between them that guarantees them certain rights and certain protections.  I won’t go into a long list of those, but I’m told there are 184.  My partner/spouse and I don’t enjoy those rights and protections.  When we lived together in our first house, which did not have my name on the deed, if anything had happened to him, his brother (who is persona non grata in our house but that’s a different story) could have kicked me and the dogs to the curb and taken the house we lived in.  If I had ended up in the hospital for any reason, and unable to speak for myself, he could not be involved in the decision making process even though he’s worked in the health care industry for 30+ years and better qualified to make those decisions than anyone in my family.

Those are the kinds of protections and rights that we are fighting for.  Sure, we now have “freedom” from being beaten up.  At least, physically.  But we can still be beaten up legally.  And what it comes down to is that a legal marriage recognized federally will protect and guarantee those rights.

For some reason, christianists want to deny us those rights.  I don’t understand a lot about what they say, but what I can’t quite get past is why their hubris is so great that they believe they have the right to impose their version of their religion on me when I never claimed to be a member of their religion.  Our constitution says they can’t do that.  Our country started because a group of people who were being persecuted wanted to create a place where everyone was free to believe what they chose.  Our founding fathers made certain of that by writing down the principle of separation of church and state.   Since they want to follow the constitution, why don’t they want to follow that part?  I’m tempted to say that they read the constitution the same way they read their Bible, accepting only what they choose to.  But that would be petty.

What it comes down to is I can’t see why they even care.  My partner/spouse and I getting married is not going to impact their lives in any way.  It won’t invalidate their own marriages.  It won’t send the economy into a tailspin.  If they get an invitation to the wedding, they can simply say no.

Some christianists try to fan the flames by saying churches will be forced to perform weddings they don’t agree with.  That’s not true.  If I want to get married in a church, I’m not going to choose a church that doesn’t agree with my lifestyle.  No one with an honest thought in their head would do that.

I think some christianists are honestly confused between what marriage is and isn’t.  Marriage is a civil ceremony, not a religious one.  Many religions have marriage ceremonies, but those are not what “make you married” in the eyes of the state.  It’s the little piece of paper called a Marriage License that’s issued by the government that creates the legal contract and provides for the legal protections.  In our society, those two things have been so intertwined that many people don’t even think of them as separate.  Many churches will actually file the official paperwork for the bride and groom.   As an experiment, go to the DMV and say that you’ve been married and would like to change your driver’s license.  The first thing they ask for is a copy of?  Right, the marriage license issued by the state, not the church.  It’s that piece of paper that we should have the right to.   That’s all, just a simple official document that guarantees certain rights and protections.  Same as everyone else has.

That’s the difference between civil and religious when it comes to marriage.  It doesn’t matter how a particular religion defines marriage.  I’m not seeking to re-define their definitions.  I’m not seeking to re-write any religious texts that have lasted for centuries (although that’s been tried many times even in just my lifetime.)  I’m looking for equal standing in the eyes of the government, on a civil platform.  That’s something that no church, no religion can give me.

Because we do not live in a church-run government system.  Civil, not religious, protection is what it comes down to.

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