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Separating Marriage And State

by @ 11:55 am on February 5, 2008. Filed under Gay Marriage, Individual Liberty

A Democratic State Senator in Maryland has come up with an idea that actually makes sense:

Advocates for same-sex marriage plan to introduce legislation in the Maryland General Assembly today that would abolish civil marriage ceremonies now confined to heterosexual unions in the state and replace them with domestic partnerships for all couples.

The bills represent an unusual new tactic in the effort to push legal rights for gay couples through the House and Senate during the legislature’s 90-day session. Sponsors of the measure say they are attempting to address head-on the concerns of lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

Under their proposal, all couples — straight or gay — would be on equal footing with secular unions. Religious marriage in churches, synagogues and mosques would be unaffected, as would existing civil marriages.

The word “marriage” would be replaced with “valid domestic partnership” in the state’s family law code.

“If people want to maintain a religious test for marriage, let’s turn it into a religious institution,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), the bill’s Senate sponsor.

This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years now (see here and here). Of course, the Republican opponents of gay marriage aren’t exactly lining up to support this:

“What they’re talking about is an even more radical departure from traditional marriage than even advocates for gay marriage are talking about,” said Del. Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington), the minority whip. “They’re creating a situation for one special interest group that basically diminishes the value of marriage for everyone else.”

Shank and other opponents say that same-sex unions defy religious convictions that marriage is between a man and a woman.

And nobody is saying that your church has to approve or consecrate same-sex unions. Heck, you could have a religion that said people with different hair colors can’t get married if you wanted to, just don’t make it the business of the state to codify your religious prejudices.

Unfortunately, I doubt that this proposal will go anywhere, even in Maryland, but it’s refreshing to see that some people recognize that the only way to really solve the gay marriage debate is to get the government out of them marriage business completely.

8 Responses to “Separating Marriage And State”

  1. James Young says:

    Who was it who said advocates for the radical homosexual agenda don’t want to “destroy” marriage?

    Exhibit A for the contrary proposition appears in Maryland.

    Nice to see that Raskin has come out of the closet on the real agenda.

  2. Ron says:

    Interesting juxtaposition right after your post about your wedding anniversary!

    So with this Maryland thing, does that mean that all couples are entitled to married couple filing benefits? How long will it take for some polygamist to want to claim this marriage privilege? Yes, I know, the Supreme Court banned polygamy over a century ago, but what’s to say that some activist judge won’t disagree?

    The (Democrat) politicians in the Free State clearly do not want to put this issue in front of the voters!

  3. James,

    Who said anything about destroying marriage ? How would turning it into a purely religious institution “destroy” it.

  4. Ron,

    I take my marriage seriously, but not because I got a piece of paper from the state.

    As for the benefits, since most of those are controlled by the Feds I honestly don’t know how that would play out.

  5. hoobie says:

    A fantastic idea. Why are the fundies so intent on continuing to discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans?

  6. Charlotte says:

    James, marriage is a basic civil right. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue:

  7. [...] Doug at Below the Beltway argues, citing proposed legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to separate marriage and state. This is a sensible idea that some religious fundamentalists have supported here in our comments, [...]

  8. Sanity says:

    I think it’s a great idea. Using the word “marriage” to mean two different things (a religious sacrament as well as a government-sponsored financial contract) just doesn’t make sense.

    Why should gays pay more in taxes and get less in benefits than straights?

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