A Non-Religious Contract in America
The religious standards of Americans today have plummeted to a new low.
Fewer people are going to church than earlier in the century. Many people are
marrying without even going to a priest by getting a judge to marry them.
Divorce is steadily on the rise. Today's society accepts homosexuals! Now the
issue arises over whether we should allow homosexuals to marry. And you know
what? It is really none of the government's business.
America can no longer deny its homosexual citizens the right to have a
legal marriage. Looking at today's society, we can see that there is no good
reason to deny gay couples the rights that straight couples have in getting
married. The United States has always had the idea of separation of church and
state, and marriage is one issue that must maintain that idealogy in the eyes of
the government. The key to separating church and state in the debate over
marriage is taking the definition of marriage that best applies to society today.
To do that we must look at marriage's state in the 1990's.
Religion is losing its dominance in the issue of marriage. We cannot
argue the fact that there are more divorces in the country today that there were
20 years ago. This points to America's increasing acceptance of divorce.
Therefore, we can conclude that religion has become less of an issue for many
Americans when marrying because most religions strongly discourage divorce, some
to the point of not allowing it at all. This leads to the question, "What is
today's basis for marriage?"
Some propose that the sole purpose of marriage be to bring life into the
world. If this were true, then it would be unacceptable for many in this
country to ever be married. There are many women and men who simply do not want
to have children. Should we condemn them and not allow them to marry just
because of this view? Should we not allow those who are physically unable to
have children to experience the joy and happiness that marriage brings? Those
who cannot bear children of their own can adopt children; would we rather they
raised that child without one or the other parental figure? Obviously society
does not operate with this as the basis for marriage. So the argument that
homosexuals should not marry because they cannot have children is entirely
Adoption is considered a noble act, and it brings joy into the lives of
many heterosexual parents and their adopted children. There is no reason why
the same cannot happen for homosexual couples. I am sure that many homosexual
couples in the U.S. are better parents than some heterosexual couples. The fact
that there are people that cannot physically have children together does not
mean that they have no parental instincts or would be incapable as parents.
Thus, this argument against homosexual marriages cannot hold in America.
The government of America recognizes marriage as a secular entity, and
with homosexual unions we must make sure that we look at marriage in this way.
Marriage in the eyes of the government consists of a legal license that states
that it can look at two people as one unit. A court of law can perform a
marriage, thereby eliminating all religious aspects of it. So, the government
looks at a marriage simply as something that is put in the records.
This decade is the time of the paper marriage. More people sign pre-
nuptial agreements, make sure their spouse has a space on their insurance
policies, and have their own line on tax forms. While this seems impersonal
(can you imagine someone proposing with "Will you be the answer to line #3a on
my 1040 and W-2?"), the government must look at the entity marriage this way.
Numbers and legal agreements are gender neutral, so government checks to make
sure that all is well in those areas are feasible. But the spiritual part of
marriage is for the couple involved, not the rest of society.
What I've said until now makes it seem that marriage as a whole has lost
all meaning to the country. This is not what I believe. Taking the religious
implications of marriage away allows us to show how much the government should
or should not be involved in marriage. However, two people get married because
they love each other very much. They have decided that they want to spend the
rest of their lives together. These reasons have nothing to do with religion;
however, the Judeo-Christian religions use these two ideals in their services as
the cornerstones of marriage. "To have and to hold, in sickness and in health,
till death do you part." This statement is not religious, and most couples who
marry think of this as the "contract" that they are agreeing to. I use contract
in quotation marks because the contract I am referring to above relates to the
religious ceremonies that take place in many marriages. There are no reasons
for the government to be involved in making the decision of whether two people
will be uphold that "contract."
The marriage of two heterosexual people, no matter how public they may
be, has no impact on the lives of everyday citizens. This will be true for
homosexual couples as well. The government only needs to be involved in what
affects the rest of the public. Thus, the only thing that it is acceptable for
the government to regulate is how one's marriage should relate to the objective
parts of society (such as taxes).
The government does not have the right to decide who should and should
not be allowed to get married. The United States prides itself on separating
issues of the church from state related issues, and it must do the same with
this one. Though some religious groups may have problems with allowing
homosexuals to marry, America as a whole must not be so restrictive. The
American government must look at marriage as strictly a financial issue, because
the only parts of marriage that the government actually gets involved in are the
financial issues. Let line #3a be filled by anyone, gay or straight.