Is being married a civil right?

I note this article, which includes:

Meanwhile, lists of donors to Prop. 8, once trumpeted on the Yes on 8 website, have been taken down to protect individuals from harassment. “It’s really awful,” says Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Yes on 8. “No matter what you think of Proposition 8, we ought to respect people’s right to participate in the political process. It strikes me as quite ironic that a group of people who demand tolerance and who claim to be for civil rights are so willing to be intolerant and trample on other people’s civil rights.”

Initially, I thought freedom of speech – the ability to write things, if they’re true – should trump some desire for one’s political contributions to remain private.  Then I thought of right to privacy, and how I’m opposed to making the names and addresses of concealed handgun licences public.  What’s the difference?  Licensees could be targeted by the criminal faction, because it makes their homes known gun-storage locations.  But it appears political donors can be targeted as well.

So, individuals have a right to free speech.  Check.

Individuals have a right to privacy.  Yes, but …    See where there’s a dilemma here?  I haven’t determined the “right” answer.  I know I want to publish names of those who both supported and opposed Prop 8, but why?  Because I feel strongly about gay marriage.  Still, that’s not a “right” – is it?  Or is it, if only by convention.  Heterosexual couples have the “right” to marry.  Not only does Prop 8 deny that “right” to homosexual couples, but it further states CA will not recognize legally married homosexual couples.

I’m finding more and more arguments like this, which I find to be logical and well-written.  (He wrote another, equally good, piece – this one on abortion).  What is it in our national culture to have conflated the religious institution of marriage and the civil one?  There aren’t other instituions so conflated, are there?  No other religious ritual confers the legal status of a contract, does it?

So what makes marriage a “civil right”?  It would seem to me the civil right is the right of Americans of legal age to enter into a contract,and if they choose, to seek religious approval of that contract.  We don’t restrict real-estate sales – a contract.  We don’t restrict other contracts.  Why this one?

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 8:56 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. There are several aspects to this discussion that are relevant.

    Rights must be defined. I submit that anything that REQUIRES the intervention of third parties is not a right. It is a privilege.

    Marriage requires the sanction of third parties…whether the state or the religious authorities. Therefore it is not a “right”.

    The problem here is that homosexuals aren’t demanding the right to live their lives as they see fit…they’ve already achieved that; they are demanding moral acceptance of their lifestyle by other members of society. They have no right to make such demands.

    There is no “equal protection under the law” problem because everyone does have equal protection. Any competent, consenting adult may (with certain restrictions regarding incest) marry any other competent, consenting adult of the opposite sex. The law treats everyone the same.

    With that said, I would not be averse to completely separating the religious rite of marriage from the State’s recognition of legal familial status.

    Separating the governmental and legal ramifications of a familial contract from the religious implications of sanctioned marriage would go far to eliminate this entire problem.

    There are people on the religious side of the issue who would oppose such a proposal, but I will guarantee you that there would be just as many if not more on the other side who would oppose it as well. For many homosexual activists this is not about legal rights. Most if not all of the rights that they claim to want are already attainable through legal contracts…wills, medical powers of attorney, legal powers of attorney, etc…the legal aspects are nothing more than a rationalization. What they really want is normalization. They want society to be forced to accept their lifestyle as a viable and moral “alternative”. That is why so many insist upon “marriage” rather than some other legal arrangement. They are attempting to force their morality upon the rest of society…and then claim the exact opposite.

    • Not really true, your assertion that homosexuals have the same rights …

      If you or I go and marry someone of the opposite sex, all those things you mention – contracts, wills, medical powers of attorney – are automatic. They don’t require someone to jump through six degrees of “mother may I”. If the State will recognize a single contract that grants the rights a “marriage” contract has when executed between a man and a woman, I’d almost agree with you.

      And I also disagree they’re “forcing” morality on anyone. You don’t have to like their marriage any more than you like your baby sister marrying the town’s two-timing drunk — but none of us have the right to stop another’s marriage simply because we don’t LIKE it. We don’t have to invite baby sister’s husband to Thanksgiving dinner, and we don’t have to associate with those who marry someone we don’t like. It’s a free world. For some.

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