July 10, 2009

First, let me acknowledge that marriage is a cultural thing, so many may think this article should come under "Cultural Issues" on this website.  Then, there are the sociological implications of the family dynamic and would warrant this post to come under "Social Issues."  But, I see the need to address the legal ramifications of what the future may hold for this institution, which was what was once regarded as the basis for the family.

First of all, I do believe the Obama Administration, the liberals in congress and the special interests groups from the ACLU to the Gay lobbies will keep suing until the cows come home (i.e. until DOMA and thirty state constitutional amendments are overturned) and that same-sex marriage will become a reality in each state.  However, I am beginning to change my tone about the implications legalized same-sex marriages will have on the church.  Let me explain.

In earlier articles I spoke of the strong antagonistic lobbying efforts that Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered groups (GLBT) have on lawmakers and the courts around the country.  (See my articles on "The Far Left's Agenda", "Read All About It: Pastor Goes To Jail" and "Civil Rights For Gays."  Also of interest is my article "Coming Soon: Litigations Against States, Churches and Pastors" on my Townhall.com blog). Now I believe that something else in is the works which may alleviate the worries of pastors who refuse to perform such marriages and the churches that won't allow them within their buildings.

I truly believe now that the state will alter the meaning of marriage.  Let's consider three factors:

  1. The number of couples (same-sex or opposite-sex) living together has increased nearly 600 percent since 1985.  In fact, the number of same-sex couple living together five years or more is up from 154,000 in 1979 to over 2.6 million today!  The number of people in a "committed relationship" has more than tripled since the 2002.

  2. Civil magistrates, clerks of courts and justices of the peace perform only civil marriages, without any religious connotations, and are solemnizing more ceremonies between couples who have been living together and prior-divorced couples than pastors are in so-called "religious ceremonies."

  3. Many European countries are already or starting to accept only "state-sanctioned" or "civil" marriages as the only one valid within their borders.  That is to say, any marriage ceremony which is performed by a clergyman in a church will not be recognized by the state as being a "marriage."  This has been the law in France since the end of the Vichy regime in 1944.  In fact, the law there states that any religious ceremony cannot be performed until after a civil ceremony - but, religious ceremonies are not required.

Seeing that Justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens like to rely on European laws to settle cases here in the U.S. and are constantly using European precedence for the United States in their opinions, and given the fact that both the liberals in Congress and the President hardly embrace European style socialism, I believe we are headed to a time of redefining marriage European style.

First of all, I see a day when clergy will no longer be allowed to perform marriage ceremonies, or at least be denied the right to sign the marriage certificate.  Any ceremonies performed by a pastor, minister, rabbi or priest will be considered a religious service and not a wedding ceremony at all.

Second, the GLBT lobby and the ACLU are currently suing for civil recognition.  Perhaps before all the litigating gets out of hand and churches and pastors end up before a judge and jury, the government (viz. Federal government) may decide that once DOMA is overturned to end the battle and just reconstitute marriage as a civil status only.

The implications of this are clear.  Those who choose a religious ceremony will not be issued a wedding license, will not be recognized as married and benefits such as health insurance, property ownership, tax filing status, etc will be denied.  Couples with a religious marriage will be considered as the 2.6 million couples who today are living together without a license.  It wouldn't necessarily be considered illegal, just not a marriage.

Another implication would be the fact that marriages performed in the church would be reduced to merely another worship service at best or a religious practice at least, like a baptism or communion.  A couple who is "married" in the church can have a civil marriage (which will become the purview of the courts) so as to enjoy the benefits that married couples have today, but this would be the only way they will be able to file a 1040 jointly, have joint custody of children, have one carried on another's health insurance and the like.

Already divorce decrees can only be handed down by the courts.  This is because the state already recognizes a marriage as a civil contract, whether it is performed by a clergyman or a justice of the peace.  So, making the entering into that civil contract a matter for the courts only will be a major argument in favor of this arrangement.

What about those couples who are already married and have had religious ceremonies only?  I suppose that they would be grandfathered in as it would take thousands of manpower hours and a big bureaucracy to wade through the paper work it would require to "annul" these marriages.  But then again, the Obama Administration and Congress do want an extremely large government and this would just be more fodder for the liberals.

In the final analysis, should the federal government decide to make valid only a civil marriage, then they will have succeeded in taking another sacred rite from the church and denying it more of its influence upon what could be a socially moral people. After all, the liberals are hell-bent on redefining society and this would be a big leap toward their goal of stripping the church of any influence it may have on the family.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.