Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Marriage weds church to state

Another view?

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The United States is based on our Constitution, and the states that comprise our union should get out of the marriage business entirely.

The Supreme Court’s only legitimate role should be to make that statement clear. The states should follow this approach.

A “marriage” is a function of whatever religious path you and your partner have chosen for yourselves.

It should be between you, your partner and your religion.

A “civil union” under law is a legitimate function of the state and should not discriminate based on the gender of the participants.

The state does have an obligation to define what constitutes a civil union.

Marriage is a function of your chosen belief; a civil union is a function of the state.

Have you asked why a priest, rabbi, pastor or reverend should be licensed by the state to perform a marriage? It is a religious ceremony!

Have you asked why the state recognizes your religious ceremony under law and requires you to obtain the license from the state, and requires the functionary of your chosen religion performing the ceremony to be licensed by the state, as well?

Weaving the church and state issues together is the problem, and in my opinion all marriages that have been performed in this manner are invalid and unconstitutional.

The only valid ones that should be recognized under law would be those performed by a justice of the peace or a judge.

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  1. I would say that the government has a legitimate interest in establishing the rules for what amount to a civil contract inasmuch as it affects things such as taxation, inheritance, etc.

    Such civil contracts should contain no religious influence at all.

    No one would say that the government (at any level) can compel any given religious institution to perform a marriage ceremony that would violate their beliefs. By the same token, no religious institution should have the right to dictate to the state what a "marriage" is.

    Ideally, assuming no religious influence whatsoever, people who meet the state's criteria for a civil union should be required to do no more than to apply for a license and register the union at that point. Any ceremony to celebrate the occasion would be purely a personal choice and have no effect on the civil status.

    Look at it this way, the only divorce recognized by the state is that which is obtained through the civil courts, not religious ones. The same should apply to "marriage."

  2. The U.S. Supreme Court justices will not make the same error with the Defense of Marriage Act [1996] that it did with Roe vs. Wade. The Court will let the legality of same sex marriages rest in the authority of the individual States, as well it should.

    Carmine D

  3. Although I am a big believer in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, equality under the law is a civil rights issue and is therefore the rightful concern of the federal government.

    DOMA is pure discrimination based upon religious beliefs and should be struck down as a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment clause. The same can be said of the issue of Prop 8.

    The WORST thing SCOTUS could do would be to strike down Prop 8 on the basis that once a right is given it can not be taken back. It should be decidedly solely on the basis of equal protection as a civil rights issue and the Establishment clause.

  4. Mr. Baker,

    I must admit you have a unique approach to marriage exposing the separation of church and state. I never considered that train of thought, KUDOS!

  5. SgtRock - There is also no legitimate need for a man to marry a women, yet it is defined as an acceptable contract for marriage. Why is that? There are many heterosexual couples who procreate without the benefit of marriage. And those same people have raised their kids to grow to contribute to society in a positive way.

  6. It amazes me how many people don't like the government to tell them how to live their lives, yet have no problem with their religion telling them how to live their lives.

  7. Per SgtRock (6:17 a.m.): "The core reason for marriage is to support the procreation of new citizens and establish a family structure to develop those citizens to grow up to be contributing to society in a positive way."

    Some 35 years ago I decided I had all the children I could properly support and tend. I went in for a vasectomy. Now YOU come along and tell me that my decision then not to have children I couldn't support now disqualifies me for any future marriage! I suppose you ALSO feel that my action means that the subsequent 27 years of my marriage were not actually a REAL marriage!

    Do I detect a "trace" of bigotry? Because Rock disagrees with the medical/ethical decision I made so long ago does not give him the right to now bad-mouth it! (Note for the skeptics: My first marriage ended well within the provisions of our oaths.)

  8. "The United States is based on our Constitution, and the states that comprise our union should get out of the marriage business entirely. The Supreme Court's only legitimate role should be to make that statement clear. The states should follow this approach."

    Baker -- no, the U.S. was CREATED by that Constitution, based on what you find in the Preamble. And no, that Constitution limits the federal government's powers. It does not belong in the marriage business at all.

    "...no religious institution should have the right to dictate to the state what a "marriage" is."

    "Although I am a big believer in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, equality under the law is a civil rights issue and is therefore the rightful concern of the federal government."

    boftx -- On the first, I agree with you 100% on this point. Historically all marriages were an ecumenical function, and until the late 1800s divorces were also part of that function.

    On the second you neglected to mention the balancing influence of the 14th Amendment which brought the 5th Amendment's equal protection to the states.

    "The U.S. Supreme Court justices will not make the same error with the Defense of Marriage Act [1996] that it did with Roe vs. Wade."

    CarmineD -- disagree with you completely on this one. Roe v. Wade was decided on privacy more than abortion rights.

    "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." -- Rod Stewart about divorce, Sunday Star Times, 10/28/2007

  9. LastThroes - "The nation is changing perhaps much faster than we realize and slow-moving GOP dinosaurs are being buried alive in the very same mud they used to wallow in."

    As this great nation grows and matures, many conservatives and religious zealots have their ideology embedded in tar pits, the result of ignoring evloution.

  10. A justice of the peace or a judge? wow that would really mess up things. I don't think the court system could handle it, probably the biggest reason they delegate the duty to priests, rabbis , etc..

  11. -dustman444 was quoted in today's Sun:

    "It amazes me how many people don't like the government to tell them how to live their lives yet have no problem with their religion telling them how to live their lives."

    My comment: Touche!