In this post, I will attempt to allow various definitions and whatnot to make the case for me (with some commentary of course). This is part one of a few posts I expect to write in order to make the case that same-sex marriage is indeed constitutional and the banning thereof a violation of one's civil rights, as well as another instance of the Church's misguided efforts. Readers will notice I offer backup links so they can look at the context and verify my sources themselves and that I also offer many different sources' definitions as to erase all question.
All arguments for and against my own are more than welcome. I understand some have made up their minds without intention of changing it as have I. The purpose of debates between two strongly opposing parties is to help those who haven't made up their mind or who are open to changing theirs to consider each side. While hardly a lawyer, I hope to make my case.
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“civil right (right or rights belonging to a person by reason of citizenship including especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th amendments and subsequent acts of Congress including the right to legal and social and economic equality) (WordNet Search, Princeton University)
“A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Statutes have been raised enacted to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual preference.” – Cornell University, Legal Information Institute, Civil Rights.
Wikipedia offers a few definitions of Civil Rights:
1) "Civil and political rights are a class of rights ensuring things such as the protection of peoples' physical integrity; procedural fairness in law; protection from discrimination based on gender, religion, race, etc; individual freedom of belief, speech, association, and the press; and political participation."
(Remember: gender and race weren’t always part of this list. They had to be fought for, which means some believed both women and black people had no claim on certain rights, such as to own property, to be free, to vote, etc. Do we disagree with this today?)
2) "Legal rights are rights that are bestowed by nations on those within their jurisdiction; they are sometimes also called civil rights in common law jurisdictions. Contrast with natural rights or human rights, which many scholars claim that individuals have by nature of being born.
3) "Civil rights, in civil law jurisdictions, are rights or powers which can be exercised under civil law, which includes things such as the ability to contract. In civil law jurisdictions, lawsuits between private parties for things such as breach of contract or a tort are usually expressed in terms of infringement of a civil right." (emphasis added).
(Remember, marriage is a contract)
Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of The U.S. Constitution:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The Fourteenth Amendment has been used to argue for many rights, including marriage rights such as in interracial marriage. We must remember, for a time the definition of "marriage" either directly or indirectly included "between two members of the same race." Interracial marriage went against the generally accepted notion of what was not only moral but natural and God ordained. If this wasn't so, there would be no need for various court cases including California's 1948 case Perez v. Sharp and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 case Loving v. Virginia. Both of which concluded that marriage is a right.
Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
(Isn’t marriage part of pursuit of happiness for those who pursue it?)
Not all rights we recognize and enjoy today have always existed. We've had to fight against racism and sexism to assert the equality our Constitution rightly demands. It is not in our interest to judge others who wish to pursue their own happiness, a happiness most recognize as selfless and beneficial to both those involved and those not involved. It's God's job to judge. According to many, there are heterosexual marriages of which God will not recognize, but we allow it because we believe straight sex to be "moral" - but only in the bonds of marriage.
And this, everyone, is what kills me.
First we tell everyone sex outside marriage is unacceptable to God and provokes his wrath. We essentially give everyone this choice: be celibate outside of marriage or go to hell. We tell everyone if they’re gay they can’t marry one of their same sex - but they can marry someone of the opposite sex (so very respectful to the poor straight partner, whether or not he/she is aware).
If anyone has ever been compelled to pretend to be something they're not for fear of invoking the wrath of those with authority over them (parents, teachers, a church), they will understand the horrendousness of such a suggestion to be straight when one is gay.
So now that we've ensured gay people cannot marry one another, if they have sex, they’ve not just the sin of homosexual sex on their hands but fornication as well. We’ve dug that grave deeper for them, taking their freedom of agency from them, first by telling them they cannot marry and then by saying because they're not married they can't have sex.
(By the way, nobody has ever said any Church would be forced by law to sanction such unions. If need be, I can dig up the specific wording of both the May 15, 2008 California ruling and the most recent Iowa ruling.)
Before we demand lifelong celibacy out of anyone, I suggest we consider what it would be like for us - and this doesn't just include marriage but dating, too and anything which we believe God would consider sinful or lustful outside marriage. And we've quite a list of "no-no's" which even the most faithful have difficulty following. Because we don't want to be alone, and even God has said it is not good for man to be alone.So why marriage?
Marriage provides stability (for children). Marriage provides security (for children). Marriage forces us to act like adults and commit. It does not point a gun to anyone's head to force anyone to accept it, God especially. Not everyone who marries is religious anyway.
The fact is we all have our own beliefs and we all teach our children those beliefs despite the world who may or may not fight against them. But this is no theocracy. I cannot say that enough, and that is why so many like me reject with zeal and with even patriotism that no religion's beliefs should even try to impede on non-member's lives. And that is what this is all about.
Many straight couples/individuals today engage in behavior which I would consider detrimental to the family unit, yet we don't fight against them because it is their right to do so and my right to avoid them and their behavior. That makes the "it's moral" argument incomplete. If we're so concerned, we ought to legislate against all couples who, in our eyes, morally threaten the sanctity of marriage/the family regardless of sexual orientation.
Fear of marriage is unfounded. Fear of having any religion led by men dictate our laws and what constitutes a right is totally founded (I don't care if he's the Prophet, he's still a man).
The Church was wrong about blacks and interracial marriage and expressed racist statements in official settings which lend to the impression of divine authority and blessing. Later they argued their beliefs were merely due to the times and culture of which they grew up and belonged in, and further that they were working with limited knowledge. Fair enough - but they can be and I believe are wrong regarding gay marriage today in much the same fashion.