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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Expanding the debate on gay marriage
Posted 1:05 PM by Luke
Always a popular (read: contentious) issue on ILN, the debate on gay marriage has seen an inevitable expansion into issues of religious freedom and constitutional philosophy.

Religious freedom

The New York Times has a good write-up on how gay marriage implicates religious freedom, an extremely new area of law. This clash could potentially occur in two different directions. [hat-tip to Josh for the NYT link]

As one scholar in the article points out, legally sanctioning gay marriages in one jurisdiction could impact religious freedom relating to church-run summer camps, daycare centers, etc. Conversely, prohibiting gay marriage might clash with religious freedom when a church marries a gay couple and the state refuses to recognize that marriage while at the same time recognizing the heterosexual marriages performed by other churches. Legal conflicts in this realm could support a push for so-called "contract marriage."

Constitutional philosophy

While most Republicans support a gay marriage ban for moral reasons, many nevertheless oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to create such a ban, usually citing the conservative philosophy of limiting the power of the federal government.

Tom Ehrich, an Episcopal priest, relates an argument of constitutional philosophy in his column in The Herald Sun:
The Constitution doesn't exist to resolve religious disputes. It exists to provide a just and equitable environment of laws and rights in which citizens can address religious issues, along with equally thorny issues involving human rights, property rights and competing claims for power....

The Constitution doesn't exist to implement certain religious beliefs. The colonies had been down that road and it was disastrous. The Constitution exists to provide an environment in which all citizens are free to worship and to believe as they choose. It is difficult to imagine a situation more antithetical to the American way than faith by fiat....

Don't worry, say some observers. The "Marriage Protection Amendment" is just for election-year show, not serious deliberation. Such trifling with our common life is no less worrisome. It manages to trivialize marriage, human sexuality, legitimate methods for resolving disputes and the U.S. Congress all at one time. That seems a lot of damage just to make the point that one branch of Christians doesn't believe gays and lesbians should have the same rights as other citizens.

As seen in the
National Jurist
and on
FOXNews

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