Marriage in the 21st Century

Regardless of where you stand on the gay marriage issue, any reasonable person should realize that the ruling regarding California's Proposition 8 handed down recently by Judge Vaughn Walker was the only ruling possible.

It has to be understood, especially by those in opposition to gay marriage, that this is about two separate entities: civil marriage and religious marriage. The laws of this country only recognize civil marriage. The law allows civil marriages to be solemnized by religious leaders, but that solemnization does not in any way have any effect under civil law.
In other words, though it may be the most important part of a marriage ceremony to some, the religious solemnization of a marriage is really meaningless under the law.

Given that understanding of the place of religion in civil marriage, it is clearly a violation of someone's constitutional rights to deny them the opportunity to marry civilly if they so choose, regardless of their sexual orientation. There is nothing in the California (or U.S.) constitution that says anything about who can marry whom. And that's basically the premise upon which Walker based his ruling. The thesis of the ruling seemed to be made clear in the following statement:


California's obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to "mandate [its] own moral code."

The argument that the citizens of California had spoken and that Walker’s ruling violates the “will of the people,” doesn’t hold water either. It must be remembered that at one time in this country the “will of the people” kept a race in bondage and denied women the right to vote. Just because something may be the “will of the people” at any given time, doesn’t make it just or constitutional.

In the ruling, Walker also seemed to go out of his way to remind us that no religious leaders will be forced to solemnize the marriage of a gay couple, unless they choose to do so. In no way would any religious group be required to recognize same-sex marriage, nor would the First Amendment rights of those opposed to it be taken away. In other words, those who wish to continue the fight against same-sex marriage will have every right to do so.

But those opposed to same-sex marriage need to ask themselves if this is the right thing to do. Vast amounts of money and time have been devoted to Proposition 8 already, from both sides. Is it worth it to keep fighting what is obviously becoming a losing battle? Most legal analysts agree that the odds of Walker's ruling being overturned at the Circuit Court level or even at the Supreme Court are slim and none.

Whether we agree or not, it’s time we resigned ourselves to a somewhat different view of marriage in the 21st century.

Tim Williamson is a husband, father and writer always searching for new insights into the human condition. He has spent the past 20 years in various sectors of business, chiefly human resources and marketing. His interests include politics, history, religion and literature. He moved to the St George area from Cincinnati, Ohio, in July of 2009, and currently resides in Santa Clara with his wife, Julie, and their sons Jacob, 6, and Mark, 4.

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