Thursday, January 27, 2005

a marital discussion

As everyone knows, I am a huge junkie. Last night on my way into practice, I was listening to an interesting commentary on All Things Considered:

How Straight Couples Are Riding on the Coattails of Gay Rights
by Heather Dune Macadam

In Massachusetts, many private employers are phasing out their domestic partner benefits over the next few years, on the logic that since gays can now marry in Massachusetts, there is no need for benefits for unmarried partners -- gay or straight. Commentator Heather Dune Macadam says that if straight couples in Massachusetts want to share health insurance, they ought to get married instead of taking advantage of rights that gays have worked hard to earn. (You can listen to the story by clicking the above link.)

It is food for thought. Earlier, Ryan and I started discussing marriage as a government institution vs. as a religious institution. I find it curious how marriage means different things to different people. I, personally (an employee of the Lutheran ELCA), think it's more critical that married couples are recognized by the government rather than the church.

In the Lutheran church, the act of marriage is more for ceremonial purposes than is seen as merely a confirmation of the legal marriage. In other words, walking down the aisle is just for show.

Admittedly, I had a Protestant church wedding. But I also had a civil ceremony in front of a judge first. Even though I am now separated, on the road to divorce, and probably slightly jaded in my view of marriage, I still think this is an important argument to consider. I guess I don't understand how, for example, one can be morally opposed to the concept of marriage because it is seen by the majority of society as a religious institution, when really isn't it about what the 2 involved parties believe? If you both believe it to be more of a legal bond than a religious bond, why not just go to a judge and just do it?

Realistically, how does being recognized as a married couple by the church help you, aside from the obvious getting into Heaven thing? The church doesn't give you a break on taxes. The church won't acknowledge someone's power of attorney, will it? The church doesn't provide financial assistance to you for life if your spouse dies.

So who cares? Get married so at least you can get cheaper health insurance. But only if your betrothed doesn't repulse you, because let me tell you, divorce is not's a big pain in the ass.

Comment away.


Ryan said...

Damn fine post. well-written and thought-provoking. I see eye to eye with you on this.. I think it should be up to the couple involved. As long as the couple is agreed upon everything, it should all be up to them. I definitely disagree with fundamentalists trying to cram their version down everyone else's throats. They're welcome to their definition & meaning of marriage, but what any given couple decides is nobody's business but their own.

Matt said...

I'm for *all* marriages being labeled as civil unions by the government. If you want true separation of Church and State, that's the way it should be. Religious institutions should have their own definitions of marriage. If you get married in a church, your marriage is sanctified by that church and your union is recognized by the state. If you get married in a civil ceremony, the church doesn't have to recognize your union. Plain and simple.

I probably hack off both sides with that opinion because it takes away everyone's arguments and then we'd have nothing to fight about.

However, I strongly believe that the definition of a union between two people lies with the state and not the federal government. That way the people have a vote on the issue and a homophobic Prez can't try to pass through an all-encompassing Constitutional ban just because he doesn't approve of something.

battlemaiden said...

Guess I should have clarified what I meant by 'government', huh Matt?