Category : Uncategorized
Two things in the national news this week bring to point two fundamental issues about the five W's of marriage (who, what, when, where and why). The first event was the passage of legislation in Alabama by the state senate to eliminate the requirement of getting a marriage license in the state. The second was the veto of the Georgia governor of the bill that would shield those opposed to gay marriage.
The Alabama legislation would replace the marriage license requirement with a marriage registration requirement (if and/or when a couple wants their union recognized by the state). There is a vast difference between a license (which grants permission to do an otherwise non-allowed act) and a registration (which is an act to make an announcement of something that had already occurred. Those that would be registering their marriage would already be married and the registration itself would not be effecting the marriage, merely the public recognition and awareness of it. Marriage licensing laws are a bit more complicated. The main person that licenses affect are the officiants with many jurisdictions maintaining the marrying of a couple without a license constitutes a crime BY THE OFFICIANT. And even if such were to occur, the couple's marriage may still be valid. Another problem is who or what constitutes an "authorized officiant" and what are the criteria or standards. The Alabama legislation removes all of the vagueness and makes it simply a contract. The main criteria then is merely that there be a witness and perhaps a notarized witness if fraud is a concern.
The Georgia legislation is the opposite case where the state is getting even more deeply involved in the issues. After heavy pressure from a wide array of opponents including multi-national corporations threatening to pull operations from the state the governor capitulated and vetoed the bill that would have enabled churches and others to simply say to the gay community that their marriages simply weren't recognized there.
So it seems that the battle that was thought to have been won with the U.S.. Supreme Court decision preventing states from banning same sex marriages has simultaneously opened again on two more fronts. Can the states follow Alabama's example and simply just avoid the whole issue by repealing license requirements? Or, does the ruling of the Supreme Court go beyond the state governments to the religious organizations and people inside those states too?
That question is not so much a question about gay or straight it is fundamentally a 'separation of church and state' issue that has historical precedence going all the way back to the Protestant Reformation. This quote, taken from americancatholic.org, tells the Catholic position that has its origin during the Reformation as part of its "Counter Reformation" movement …
Catholics who exchange marriage vows in the presence of only ministers from other religious traditions or authorized civic officials are not considered validly married in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
As a result of declaring the Reformer's marriages invalid they also were declaring their children illegitimate. The Roman Catholic Church had enormous influence over the governments of that era and, so, a ruling that the children were illegitimate also meant that they lost their rights to their inheritances.