Civil and religious

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The Founding Fathers were right in the position that things of religion and government do not mix well. Religion is a personal matter of belief, which should not be legislated, compelled or abridged. Government in a democracy is about ensuring that all members of the society receive fair and equal access to the benefits of the society.

The Supreme Court is considering the matter of marriage. Sadly, the word marriage has come to be entangled between civil and religious meanings. If the Supreme Court were infinitely wise, it would undo the tangle.

Marriage is a religious term. Each religious group should be free to decide if a couple can be considered "married" in the eyes of their faith. That will result in some groups putting prohibitions on participation in their faith.

However, every couple living in a permanent, legally recognized relationship should be able to receive all the civil benefits we currently give to "married" couples. My wife and I were "married" in a civil ceremony. Yet we receive all the civil benefits of a couple married in church. We are acknowledged in the society as a couple (aka "married").

At some point, every religious marriage ceremony has the couple sign a civil marriage license just as we did. Without the civil piece of paper, the civil benefits do not happen. So, in fact, there are already two types of marriage -- civil, which requires a government-issued license, and religious, which requires the agreement and sanction of a religious group.

I fully support couples who make a legal commitment receiving equal benefits without regard to religious beliefs or the lack of them. But I think that religious recognition must come from the religious authority and is outside of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.

Upper St. Clair



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