Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights

I'm revisiting the topic of gay marriage because while I've discussed the unnaturalness of it and some of the problems we have with marriage being instituted by the state. Cam, rightly, pointed out that some of the problems with gay marriage is that it potentially tramples on religious rights. At first I dismissed the commit, not because I thought it was ludicrous, but because I believe in our Constitution. The first amendment protects the right to worship. We're also guaranteed religious liberty. So in my mind, if it came to down to religious rights vs. gay rights, the religious rights would be honored since there is no constitutional amendment protecting the right of gay marriage.

Granted I think gays have rights just like ordinary citizens do. They can hold property, vote, bear arms, assemble, etc. etc. etc. The only "right" that's called into question is one over marriage and how the state chooses to give special benefits to married couples. Although, one can argue that those benefits also can be given to anyone (outside of insurance). So really this isn't a gay rights issue at all. It's a marriage rights issue. Because as soon as you allow gay marriage, you open the flood gates for polygamous marriages, incestuous marriage, and under-age marriage. Our government is set up so that ordinary citizens decide what the definition of things are.

Our government has given the power to control marriage and marriage laws over to the individual states. Here in Arizona we have what's called common property state. This means that anything acquired during a marriage is the property of both spouses. This type of law is only in eight other states. If your spouse dies, the property becomes yours even if the property title is not in your name like a deed or a car title. Therefore, if you divorce in another state, you are subject to their laws.

DOMA is a law that the Clinton administration passed saying that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages. Therefore, individual states are given the right to decide. So now with the New York ruling, gay people are allowed to married. But what does this mean for states who do not recognize same-sex marriage, like Arizona which has both a law and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage? Would this mean that Arizona would have to recognize a marriage that took place in New York? Currently Arizona does not recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, but if DOMA is revoked, this could change.

Some public and private institutions have already recognized same-sex couples (and other types of domestic couples) without the need for a marriage license. These couples receive benefits through their partners such as medical insurance and death benefits. The University of Arizona, a public state-funded institution, is one of the them. Many proponents of gay marriage were thrilled with this decision since one of the major reasons they argue for gay marriage is the right to medical insurance, death benefits, and tax breaks.

Other institutions do not recognize same-sex couples including the Dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix. They are religious institutions but in the case of Catholic Charities receive benefits from the state.

Arizona has already run into a sticky situation. We have a law that allows tax payers to decide to donate up to a certain amount (depending on if filing single or jointly) to a school of their choice including parochial schools. The schools receive the donation and the donation is refunded to the donor 100%. Some opponents feel that this is violation of the federal constitution since clearly the state is "supporting" a religious organization (parochial school). I and many other argue that this does not since it is the donor who designates not the state. The state is simply encouraging donors to contribute to education. A donor can just as easily give money to a local charter or public school.

Catholic Charities, on the other hand, receives money directly from the state for it's programs. The state can force Catholic Charities to employ openly-gay employees and to extol benefits on their partners. Or Catholic Charities can bow out. This sort of forcing of the hand is already happening in other Dioceses such as in Indiana. Catholic Charities offers adoptions in that state but only to heterosexual married couples. The state has basically said that unless Catholic Charities allows adoptions for same-sex couples and single individuals they will no longer receive funding or foster out children. So far, they've had to close their doors.

Now the situation has become precarious. I am confident, that in Arizona at least, the Catholic Church will "win out." We already are allowed to exclude birth control under prescription drug coverage. I pre-suppose that we can also exclude other issues that may crop up such as recognizing a same-sex marriage from New York. It would create drama between states, but we shall see.

For New York, there are a few war-mongering gay marriage advocates who may force a priest, also an officiant for the state, to sign a marriage license. I doubt a priest will do that, but what mostly likely will happen is that this goes to court. Then it would be religious rights vs. marriage rights. This is why Hubby and I proposed that the government stop issuing marriage licenses in the first place. Although this won't be so easy since it will erase any government recognition of families whatsoever.

Then you also have to look at things like Catholic adoption agencies etc that receive money from the state of New York. Will they close their doors too?

But this is just about institutions. We could see that individual's rights are being violated. In Great Britain, a country that recognizes same-sex unions, two Christian families have run into problems. One owned a bed-and-breakfast and was taken to court under discrimination laws because they refused to offer a single bed room to a gay couple (incidentally they also do the same thing with unmarried heterosexual couples). Another couple was told that they could no longer foster any children because they refused to say that gay marriage/sex was okay (they are Christians). In Mexico, a priest spoke out against voting for candidates who support gay marriage. He was given fines for spreading political propaganda. Mexico also recognizes same-sex marriages.

You can see that anytime a Christian speaks out against same-sex marriages or refuses to recognize gay couples, their religious rights are being violated. They are berated by the media and their governments as being bigots for standing up for their beliefs. At some point the United States could see the same thing happening. We could also be taken to court for discrimination although it's less likely we will be taken to court over hate-speech.

I already have one friend who doesn't like the fact that as a land lord he must rent to a gay couple regardless of how he is strongly against it. This is small, but how far will religious rights violations go. When will individual decisions suddenly be wrong? We already have trouble with individual state laws not protecting the right's of pharmacists to decide what medicines to fill. Will we suddenly be forced to do other things against our own consciences?

So now it's a show down between religious rights and gay rights. At some point, I'm betting, it's going to come up on the Supreme Court's Docket.

Oh, and Elisabeth Haselbeck from the view pointed out that Christians are very vocal against gay marriage, but not so much about divorce. There's several reasons for that, Elisabeth: 1) media hype- the focus is on gay-marriage. All out cries against divorce are silenced by main stream media. So it isn't that we're saying we support divorce, it just isn't as popular to publish. 2) There are laws for divorce on the books already. Right now we're deciding laws about gay marriage so that's were most of the energy is going to. 3) There are some reasons why the Church does understand civil separation or divorce like in the cases of domestic abuse. We definitely have a problem with no-fault divorce though. So I hope that clears that up.

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