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Stuart Cameron

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If/when same-sex marriage is legalised, should ALL religious bodies be required by law to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies?

So, some people may know that here in Scotland there has been a public consultation on same-sex marriage (and it's looking extremely promising!). One of the questions in the consultation was as follows:

"Do you agree that religious bodies should not be required to conduct same-sex marriages or civil partnerships if it is against their wishes?"

So what are your thoughts? As an abstract idea, should religion be able to have its own say? In the context of Scotland, should religion have its own say? Bearing in mind that our government is supposed to be separate from church/religion. Why?

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    Dec 16 2011: Hmmm...I read a couple more comments and now I wonder: Why would someone in the first place wish to be married by a church, that views him/her as an outsider of said church?
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      Dec 17 2011: Exactly. Churches refuse to marry people all the time. People may simply find a minister or non-denominational officiant who wants to marry them.
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        Dec 17 2011: Hi karen, as has previously been stated in another comment, there's a difference between a clergy refusing to marry someone based on the individual merits of that couple, and the church refusing to marry a whole demographic of people. That is discrimination.
        • Dec 17 2011: Stuart
          Again you call it that, but not everyone does. Clergy refuse whole demographics all the time. Again, show me the law, the Supreme Court decision, the statue that makes it discrrimination. It is choice Stuart. And obviously so.

          You are absolutely right Karen it happens all the time depending on the clergyman and his beliefs and those of the group he belongs to.
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        Dec 17 2011: Nikolas and Karen,
        That was my question too, when I first saw this discussion...why would anyone WANT to be a part of a group who did not accept them? With further pondering, I asked the question of myself...isn't this discrimination? If church representatives are performing marriages for heterosexual couples, and refuse to perform marriages for same sex couples...that is discrimination, is it not?

        What happened in the south (USA) when laws regarding discrimination were passed? Resturants, for example, where people were served food, were required to serve ALL people, or close their doors, correct? It didn't matter what the resturant owner's personal beliefs were regarding people of color, or any other differences. Churches provide a service....marriage. Why is it ok for churches to refuse a service for SOME people because they do not agree with the sexual preference?

        Some people argue that churches have that right because of "Holy Matrimony", "dogma", " "religious freedom", "seperation of church and state" etc. All of these could be valid arguments, but when we get right down to the issue, it is discrimination against a certain group of people...those who choose same sex partners.

        Why should churches be protected from serving the people they say they love? The foundations of most churches are "Love thy neighbor"...do unto others..." Loveing means accepting, respecting people's choices IF that choice does not adversly impact other people.

        The only way same sex partners impact others (generally), is if the "others" are prejudice against same sex relationships. To reject same sex partners, and/or refuse to marry them when there is a law protecting their right to marriage (which there is in the state where I reside) is discrimination.
        • Dec 17 2011: There is a difference Colleen between the service offered. One is a commerical service a restaurant, the other a personal religious one. Please don't confuse those. But you will. A service organization may set its own criteria. Again this topic was originally not about the validty of same-sex marriage, but whether or not churches should be "required" to perform ceremonies.
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          Dec 20 2011: I think you might be missing a much darker, and more human truth, in what the people were trying to convey in their "why would anyone want to be a part of a group that didn't accept them" argument...

          It's often viewed, as an evil and racist argument now... but I would use the "Ron Paul defense" on you... Why would any black man, want to buy a product, at a business, where the store owner, wants to hang a "whites only" sign?

          By making it illegal, to hang a "whites only" sign, what we have done, is transfer wealth from African Americans... to people that hate them.
        • Dec 20 2011: Even restaurants have the right to set requirements for "proper attire". Are you going to sue them if they don't allow you to go in with t-shirt , shorts and sneakers when the sign says "collared shirts/pants/shoes required"? Each religious body can set its own requirements for performing a service based on whatever criterias. IF a religion defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, it has every right to deny such service to same sex partners.
          I do support gay marriage from a legal standpoint. However, I also support the rights of those religious bodies.
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        Dec 17 2011: Michael,
        I am not confused, nor are my ideas confusing....for some people. I would very much appreciate it if you would stop suggesting this. Thanks

        I respect the fact that we have different perceptions, and I am well aware of what the topic of this discussion is. Thanks again for your consideration.
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        Dec 20 2011: Hi David,
        I'm not sure who your comment above was addressed to ("I think you might be missing the much darker...."), and I got the notice, so I will respond.

        My perception is that the "darker...truth" is that this issue is discrimination, based on prejudice, sanctioned by some churches and/or members of some churches.

        The topic question seems to ask...is this legal or not, and should the churches, and/or individuals within the churches, be required to respect and follow the laws, which are voted on and passed by the masses of people.
        • Dec 21 2011: Not discrimination Colleen. There is no forcing of anyone. Perhaps discrimination would be when people force others to act counter to the deeply held beliefs. Again, in the US there cannot be a law that somehow restricts the exercise clause of the Constitution! You may call it what you will, but it is not the discrimination against a demographic. It is a choice made by people in the practice of their faith. Whether or not you agree with it. Please state the law you are citing that makes it discrimination?
    • Dec 17 2011: Nikolas,

      If you were to theoretically posit that religion is an indoctrinal process with millenia of experimental evidence to refine thier techniques of social dominion it is not suprising that adherents raised in a faith seek endorsement and acceptence within that group, even if it confounds reason.

      How many abused children still love thier loveless parents? How may spouses "walked into a door' for thier significant other?

      Some religions specialize in the construction and absolution of guilt, one wonders if this formulates a strange sort of addiction to ecclesiastical dis/approval. After all, marraige is an emotional decision, rather than a purely reasonable one.

      Oops, is my atheism showing?

      Best Regards...
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        Dec 17 2011: Good point Ian,
        I've worked with victims of abuse/violence in shelters, offenders of domestic violence in correctional facilities, addictions, etc. It is very difficult to move out of abusive situations, and it's not at all uncommon for people to continue to love the abuser.

        The church is often "the community" for people who have attended since they were children, and we often look to the community for acceptance and support. I also agree that some religions "specialize in the construction and absolution of guilt", which in my opinion, can sometimes cause an "addiction to ecclesiastical dis/approval".
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        Dec 19 2011: Well said, Ian.

        It's hard for me to understand why people are so passionate about something that seems so illogical to me. I had a long discussion on that topic with a friend the other day.
        She is a highly logical person, interested in science and very well educated.
        Yet I couldn't make it clear to her, why I don't believe in god. For her there exists a huge difference between the logical and the emotional part of her life. She made no connection between these two and couldn't understand how I drew conclusions from science that for me made it highly unreasonable to believe in a god. especially the god of judaism/christianity/islam
        • Dec 19 2011: Hi Nikolas,
          I think it's important that people recognize the differences between religion,church and god. Judaism, Christianity and Islam at their core are about love and acceptance of all living being, the corruption of these faiths is the misinterpretation and corruption by humankind. People made church and "religion" for certain - no one can say with any absolute proof that god was made or exists.

          Your friend who is very logical perhaps thinks that given all those things that exist that we remain unable to explain or replicate with our advanced science are, logically, evidence of a greater power - god. Is that perhaps not a more logical response than simply being unable to explain those things that remain inexplicable to us?

          Regardless if you believe in something more or not, I think it is essential we see the difference between the man-made institutions and books of religion and the concept of "god".

          As for the marriage in a church - though I find it despicable that any institution would discriminate against sexual orientation, a church/synagog/mosque etc is in fact a private club with a membership that has requirements.... one which is heterosexuality. As a "private" club I don't think the state has a right to interfere with that. However, the state does have the right to withhold any public funding from being channeled to such institutions.
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          Dec 20 2011: I think Tania makes a very important point here, which, as an atheist, I absolutely adore, and I failed to make clear in my previous posts... Stop giving churches tax exempt status, and public funds... and then it will be okay to let churches believe whatever they want. That is a fair point.

          As long as churches are not "special", in their relation to private clubs, then the state should let them have membership requirements, the same as any other private club... but... the second you grant churches tax exempt status, you do open up a rational argument for anti discrimination. Great point Tania, and in all future posts I will try to make that distinction clear. I don't believe that churches should be forced to grant gay marriage rights... because I don't believe churches should enjoy tax exempt status. I think they're snake oil salesman.
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        Dec 20 2011: Hello, Tania.
        I did in fact not talk about the jewisch/christian/islamic religion, but their god. If as I think you said religions are man made and faulty and the only thing good about them is the idea of love and acceptance then why should assume that there is a god? The only thing telling me about the existence of god is said faulty man made religion. Isn't it enough to just be a good person? Why do we need religion and a god to enforce it?
        And calling everything we can't explain a logical explanation for a divine creator is not very logical. Our knowledge has grown so much in the past millennia and much that was said to be gods work has since been explained.
        Another thing that has always puzzled me is: Throughout history thousands of religions around the world have been declared false, because christians, muslims and many others found the ideas behind them unbelievable. Would you belive in a god of thunder creating lightning with his hammer? Or a god of fire living in a volcano? Those ideas seem primitive and foolish to us. But if so many religions have been abandoned, what exactly makes you think, that Jahwe/Allah would be any different?
      • Dec 21 2011: Ian, that's ok. Your atheism is fine here. All religions however are not "indoctirnation machines." Actually thousands of people, nay millions of people everyday, practice their heartfelt faith. Imagine that. Thanks for your words.
  • Dec 21 2011: When one adopts a certain faith one adopts its ideals and values, therefore one has no authority over any vision blunders that religion may have in meeting your needs. If one religion isnt supporting you then find another one, and if one doesnt exist that supports what you want there's always Vegas...
    I can understand the importance of getting married in a church, not to mention the weight it has especially when everyone in a family has done so and you cannot, but I would think, if I were in your shoes, I wouldnt care about that as long as one is allowed to get married to their significant other and have the same rights by law as everyone else, that should be enough. The rest are details with no real significance.
  • Dec 16 2011: Yo Stuart,

    By forcing a church to comply with a social norm, you are forcefully altering the religion itself. Here in the U.S, as long as the religion and its practices are not impeding on the personal rights of other individuals, you cannot "force" them to do anything. Freedom and stuff.
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      Dec 16 2011: By allowing religious bodies (and no other bodies) to opt out of laws regarding equality, isn't equality all. My rights should not be reliant on the benevolence of religious groups...they should be protected by law. Freedom and stuff.
      • Dec 16 2011: First off, I completely understand your frustration, but I must add that - I am not following your logic. Are you saying that the church is impeding on your personal rights because you have the right to be married by any church of your choosing?

        Firstly, you must not overlook a few key points. I will repeat what i said above in a different manner. The freedom of religion encompasses protection from outside forces manipulating it. Religion in it's pure essence is a set of ethical standards. Thus, by forcing a specific religion to change its ethical standards, you are forcefully manipulating the religion. Like I mentioned above, the freedom of religion, which includes practicing, only applies as long as the religion is not impeding on the personal rights of others (which sounds similar to what you were claiming above, with the - "My rights should not be reliant on the benevolence of religious groups..." comment).

        As far as gay rights, you would do far more good for the cause if you argued: do homosexual couples have the right be be married? If they do, you can then argue that the state should provide a way for them to marry if no churches will. If thats not already the case.
  • Dec 16 2011: One of, the things I'm proudest of, as a U.S. citizen, in the U.S. constitution, is the ideal of religious freedom embodied in the 1st Amendment -- that there will be no establishment of religion, there will be a separation of Church and State. Of course, we haven't lived up to that, but it's an ideal we keep working toward. Laws against gay marriage are a form of establishment of religion. The state should treat individuals fairly, regardless of gender -- which is why there should be no laws against marriage of two people of the same sex. This has nothing to do with what people of different religious communities or organized churches permit in their places of worship -- nor should it. In the U.S. there used to be laws prohibiting interracial marriage, and these laws were justified using religious language. Thankfully, that has changed now. But individual churches can and do still discriminate on the basis of racial background -- they can and do say that they won't marry people of different races, or couples in which one is from another faith background, or whatever, and they can and do say they will or won't marry people of the same sex. The law shouldn't discriminate. Churches should have the right to do so -- and people will choose their churches based on their own consciences and their own understandings of their own faiths.
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    Dec 15 2011: Hi Stuart,

    For reasons too many to enumerate, I believe in the separation of church and state. So I am all for the recognition of same sex marriage as a matter of law and civil ceremeony ( or whatver is required by law to create a "marriage of recod)

    However, I do not believe it is the domain of the state to say what religion may and may not do ( except in the case of hate speech or religious practices, ege polygamy that threaten the rest of us or violate civil or criminal law). Same sex couples who are also bound in a common faith of course want the blessing and confrmation of their marriage in the context of their faith, their community of faith.. The couple can elect vows and a service which embodies and celebrates their shared faith with or without the official sanction of the insitutitions who are the stewards of their religious affiliation.

    These institutions are wrong about lots of things, chrstian, hebrew, muslim..all wrong about so much..all so far from the core teachings, the true faith.What should matter to each of us spiritually is the authenticity of our own faith..our own inner knowing, our own inner gyroscope. No one can prevent us from expressing and modeling that in our own ceremenoies celebrating marriage, birth, death ior the process of dying. That is ours and our alone to decide.

    People who love you will join with you in that..wll honor and be moved by the way you choose to express that in your marraage ceremony, your celebration and observance of each of these important life bench marks.
  • Dec 15 2011: No
    "Marriage" is a civil contract that bestows rights and obligations.
    Let religion do what it pleases with "marriage" within the bounds of a civil society.
    "Love" exists within and outside of marriage. We need many words for love, defined by context.
    We need two words (at least) for "marriage" defined by context. That will quiet much of the argument about the meaning of marriage and where it belongs and how we use it.
  • Dec 15 2011: Separation of Church and State and religious liberty are tied to this question. In Scotland, if I am correct, there is less of a true separation between the offical church and the state. In the US, although some groups think they truly influence, few in reality actually effectively change policy.

    These two principles are inviolate and guarantee actually what is known as "soul freedom" or the right of each individual to believe or not believe and demands that the government not interfere with religious practices and vice versa.
    Although your idea sounds modern, it only involves actually 16th century thinking on the problem. Now there is something right? You would actually rather go back to a time when government demanded religious conformity than not.

    To answer your question. No, the government should force religious groups to perform gay marriages. The government can decide to legally recognize or not gay relationships. It does not have either the right, or the power to demand that anyone, much less churches, conform to a particular practice. Frankly some churches would do it, some would not.

    If you really wish to return to the 16th century fine, personally I prefer the separation of church and state and religious liberty. We had enough of the 16th century 500 years ago.
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    Dec 15 2011: "The government has every right to infringe on and mandate what religions should do."

    Well, Stuart, you apparently love state power. The modern states I can think of that would support such a view are Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China, though there are undoubtedly a few more.

    In the modern democratic tradition, the state does not infringe on religious practices, but quite the contrary, the state is committed to protect the rights of each religious community to its beliefs, rites, and practices. About the only exception would be if a religion sacrificed babies or committed similar outrage. Choosing not to perform same-sex marriages is at most an inconvenience, nothing more, and obviously doesn't rise to the level where the state would interfere.
    • Dec 15 2011: The legal precedent for a western state interfeering in internal religious policy is based on the precedent of conflicting rights. It is the states duty to uphold the rights it has endorsed to all of it's citizens. when the rights of two citizens, or orginizations, are in conflict, it is the juridiction of secular authority to meet out judgement.

      I agree however that the conflict must be compelling. In the words of J. S. Mill, "The freedom of my fist ends at the rights of your nose." The state is not commited to protect religious rites per se, only religious freedom. Those are often, but not always, hand in hand.

      If binding secular alternatives are provided to the population, as they are in most western states, and those options are made available to the homosexual population, I do not think the argument to force religions into performing these ceremonies becomes a fist / nose issue.

      If I may share another quote, this by H. L. Mencken, " Fredom of religion also means freedom from religion."

      As an aside, The USSR and China did not mandate religious activities, nor make judgements about practices, they simply outlawed religios activity.

      Best Regards.
      • Comment deleted

        • Dec 16 2011: I agree, if you refer to increasing the faith of the oppressed individual, but not if you mean the number of adherents to the faith.
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        Dec 16 2011: I appreciate your reply, Ian. But when you correct me on the point that "The state is not committed to protect religious rites per se,..."note that I agree with that, and I didn't make any such claim. I said the state is "committed to protect the rights of each religious community to its beliefs, rites," etc. It's the religious community's right to its beliefs etc that the state is bound to protect.

        And not to quibble, but states that outlaw religious activity obviously "infringe on and mandate what religions should do," and USSR and China obviously "made judgements about [religious] practices" when they banned all such. Unless one argues that they made no judgement about what they were banning.
        • Dec 17 2011: Paul

          Yes, I agree fully that the state ideally protects the rights to rites. I do not entirely disagree with you, merely wish to clarify that there are times when those beliefs come into conflict with the rights of others. At those times it is the duty of secular authority to mediate the conflict.

          As to the communist banning of religion, I agree that making them illegal does infringe on thier rights to practice. I believe it has a socialogical root. I.e : these states view all religious groups as dominating and manipulating the populace with faith. At least you can say they didn't play favorites.

          Marx's interpretation of religion is less than generous, and reminds me of Petrocolas... "Mankind will only be free when the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

          Best regards
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      Dec 16 2011: Hi Paul,

      Ummm...I think you'll find that I'm advocating the power of democracy. Not the power of dictatorship....there's quite a difference!

      And you advocate that the law should protect the religious. The law should protect EVERYONE, include those in the LGBT community. Therein lies the problem!
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        Dec 17 2011: Yes, Stuart, I'm sure you mean to be advocating for democracy, but ...

        If one tries to write a law that requires a minister, priest, rabbi, or mullah to perform a sacrament of their religion (marriage in this case) in a way that is condemned by their faith, that's just an attempt to start a religious war, and is obviously not good public policy.

        If homosexuals don't have a religious body where they can be married (assuming it's legal), they could do what has been done dozens of times before when there have been doctrinal disagreements (like John Wesley, for example): break away and start a new denomination. Then everyone will live happily ever after.

        In the meantime: I got married in a court room. Twice. It works fine. And it's cheaper.
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          Dec 17 2011: Paul, the writing of laws are (supposed to be) a democratic process and therefore whatever laws that come out of a democracy should rule.

          Hypothetically speaking, if the majority in any democracy somehow managed to pass a law which prohibited the existence of any houses of worship, and made it illegal to host or participate in any large gatherings to pray, practice or educate people about that religion...then surely, because it was voted by a democracy, that law is fair and should be enforced?

          If you don't think it's fair then what you are suggesting is that religion should exist outwith, or is superior to, democracy. And it's that notion which is intolerable and that I'm arguing against.

          I'm not necessarily *against* churches having their own right to choose (even though it is still blatant discrimination), what I am against is people's attitude; "oh no! Religion is religion and you cant make them do anything they don't want to." Surely, they live in the democracy (and have equal representation) just as much as we do, and therefore whatever the law is....should be observed and followed by everyone?

          And with issues like this where the rights of religion and the rights of other demographics start to intersect and conflict, it worries me that we'll start making obvious allowances in favour of religion.

          (Just to be clear, I don't want this to turn into a debate about whether there's such a thing as "true democracy" because it's pretty irrelevant, so for the purposes of this argument, we'll assume it's some perfect form of democracy.)
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    Dec 15 2011: I think I was a bit too brief, and sarcastic in my reply. What I am trying to suggest is that, if a religious body, doesn't want to sanctify your union... Why would you want to contribute any money to that organization, or give that organization the respect of having your marriage there? What do you possibly have to gain from patronizing an organization that refuses you basic human rights?

    By letting certain religions choose to opt out of homosexual marriage, you can see what churches are actually gay friendly, and which ones aren't... If you mandate that all religions perform ceremonies, than you will accidentally patronize, and give credit to an organization that secretly harbors hatred for you, and probably won't perform the service properly anyway. It's better to leave the hatred out in the open so that culture can fight that battle with you... In my humble opinion.
  • Dec 14 2011: Hi Stuart,

    It is very bad policy for the State to dictate the actions of a Church. And vice versa. You can prove this to yourself by imagining that your government's actions (and your own) is the one that is being held to a religous doctrine that you do not agree with.

    There must be a very compelling reason to break this boundary. I do not see that here.

    Best wishes,
    Doug Bell
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      Dec 15 2011: Hi Doug,

      I see your point but...

      1. I think your analogy is faulty. State laws cannot be compared to religious doctrine in any way; they're rules that have been designed and agreed upon as part of a democracy. These aren't regulations that have been dictated to us from a greater authority, they're what we, as a society, have collectively agreed on to be right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, and it is required that everyone abide by them...without exception. Ultimately, you can't chose to opt-out of state laws, but you can however chose to opt-out of religious laws.

      2. We already dictate the actions of churches. If you see the comment I posted below, in 2007 we outlawed religious adoption agencies who refused to serve same-sex couples. And we do it in more extreme cases as well, for instance, if you look at certain scriptures, they call for the stoning of blasphemers and adulterers and disobedient sons etc. Obviously, we cannot allow religious bodies to do this simply because we cant "dictate" their actions.
      • Dec 15 2011: Regarding the comment you have up there on adoption: adoption is a state related matter, the government has to agree on one hand before it gives away a child (since the child is protected by rights). The church here is acting like an agent and it has to agree to the terms of its supplier. But the church is independent of the government and can choose not to foster adoptions. If the church wants to engage in adoption, it has to abide by rules of the state.
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        Dec 15 2011: Good points Stuart,
        Laws are "rules that have been designed and agreed upon as part of a democracy...they're what we, as a society have collectively agreed on to be right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, and it is required that everyone abide by them...without exception". By saying/believing that people who belong to a specific group ( a church) are exempt from the law of the society is ridiculous!

        Let's look at another example of church members being "exempt" from the law. There were thousands of kids sexually assaulted by representatives of the catholic church over a period of many many years. Sexual assault is a crime, which is against the law, and should have been dealt with legally. However, the church leaders chose to cover up the crimes over and over again because the criminals were representatives of the church. Is this ok? Is it acceptable? Why do we have a law that punishes those who sexually assault a victim? It is to protect people, and assure all people that s/he has the right to live free from harm. Why do we pass a law allowing same-sex marriage? To protect people, and assure him/her that s/he has the right to live with the same rights everyone else has. If a church representative refuses to perform a marriage for same sex partners, when there is a law requiring it, he is telling us a lot about his church, his beliefs, himself, and this person should be held accountable to the law that governs the society.
      • Dec 15 2011: Hi Stuart,

        I did not mean anything as an analogy. Religous bodies often have, and still do, dictate the actions of a government and individuals. You and I are lucky enough to live in a place and time where this is not the case.

        My understanding (of American law) is that no one is exempt from a law simply because they claim religous freedom. You cannot, for instance, claim that child abuse is a protected religous right. The fact that the church leaders choose to cover it up only makes them accomplices in the eyes of the law.

        However, and without claiming to be a constitutional scholar my understanding is that our constitution prohibits creation of a law based solely on religion, or treats any religion preferentially. That includes those who choose not to have a religous affiliation. So unless our government has a compelling need to protect other people's rights (for instance, a minor), it will not interfere with your choice of worship. In fact, ideally, it will take pains to insure that you can worship in the manner you choose.

        Best wishes,
        Doug
      • Dec 15 2011: Hey Stuart, I would like to add a few stuff.

        Ultimately, I'd rather get out of the country than choose to opt-out of my creator's laws. Meaning, this point is very relative just to be clear.

        Well as it is not illegal to not perform these same-sex marriages, then the solution should be easy, we don't do them. But if a certain party within the religion decides to do it then the solution is even easier. We cannot punish them because they are not of our religion. They have ultimately made a new religion. :D

        Also, with regards to stoning and the like, I would like to say that in Islam, there's a long list of requirements before you can stone someone to death. So it practically shouldn't happen.
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        Dec 15 2011: Kathy K,
        Sorry I cannot get this close to your comment I am reasponding to.

        Here is my statement again...looks like you missed part of it.
        "If a church representative refuses to perform a marriage for same sex partners, when there is a law requiring it, he is telling us a lot about his church, his beliefs, himself, and this person should be held accountable to the law that governs the society".

        The point is, that in the state where I live, and many other states, there are laws guarenteeing the right to same sex marriage. In this area, I am observing representatives of the same church group making different choices as to whether or not s/he wants to perform same sex marriages. If a church leader is performing heterosexual marrages, and refuses to perform same sex marriages, that is discrimination, and I believe there are state and federal laws protecting people from that offence. The chruch groups seem to be unclear regarding what their "Holy Doctrine" actually is!!!

        You say..."it goes against the law of nature...". You might want to explore that information.

        You also write..."The government can legalize same sex marriage; religion will never sanction it".
        Some religions already ARE sanctioning it, and they are the groups who are gaining followers:>)
        It appears that many people in our world may be ready for "Holy Doctrine" that makes some sense, and offers all people the right to choose their own life partners.
        • Dec 16 2011: Colleen
          Sorry it is not discrimination. Please do not make it out to be. Any clergy can refuse to officiate a marriage ceremony any time he pleases. As I said in another post, he is acting as an agent of the state, not the state. The state has a right to choose to recognize these marriages and grant a license. The clergy does no granting and (it happens all the time actually) can refuse to officiate any marriage.

          Different denominations in the US hold differing views on this issue. Some are choosing to officiate and others are not. That is why it is called freedom of religion. Hiding behind the smokescreen of discrimination is just to muddle the issue more.

          Alas again, the state cannot and should not force religious groups to perform any marriage.
        • Dec 16 2011: Michael,
          Of course it is discrimination. But if you believe in religious freedom, you believe that religious groups have a right to discriminate according to their doctrines. (For example, many religious groups have discriminatory ideas about what men and women are supposed to do). The state shouldn't adopt those religious ideas -- the state should not discriminate. Religious bodies do have that right, at least in my understanding of religious freedom.

          I happen to think religious groups that discriminate in this way are wrong (and un-Christian, among other things.) So I wouldn't choose to go to churches that discriminate in this way, any more than I would choose to go to churches that discriminate racially. But that's one of the rights we have if religious freedom is real. Churches should NOT have the right to impose their doctrines on non-members, and the non-members and the state should not have the right to force churches to act against their own doctrines -- unless we are talking about active abuse, like child abuse, rather than simply refusing to provide religious sanction for a voluntary action.
        • Dec 17 2011: Laura
          It is interesting you said imposing. How is it that the refusal of someone to perform a wedding service, again what is done oftentimes, is imposing anything on anyone? There is no imposition. The imposition would come if the government at any level "required" them to perform a duty where they now act as agents, not enforcers or legislators.

          The very fact you are free to choose to worship where ever you do choose; (And I one hundred percent support that right) is there because of separation of church and state and religious liberty we enjoy in the US. Gays are free to choose a clergyman who will, if the state recognizes such marriages, perform such marriages. Clergy are also free to do the same thing. That is in point of fact Laura the very same freedom you enjoy to not worship at a church you choose.
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          Dec 17 2011: Once again Micheal, I feel you need to reread what was written.

          Laura was arguing that churches should not be required to perform a ceremony for same-sex couples because she doesn't think it's right that society should force them to act against their own doctrines. She was arguing that by making a law which requires them to do so, we are "imposing" our values on them. Not vice versa.

          And out of respect, can we please use the term 'gay' as an adjective and not a noun. I am not "a gay", I am a human being who happens to be gay.
        • Dec 17 2011: Stuart and Michael --
          I'm new to the TED forum and don't see a way to respond directly to Michael's comment, so I'm responding here.
          Stuart, you're right -- Michael misread my post. I agree with him -- the state should not require any church to perform any particular marriage ceremony.
          I think it's silly to argue, however, that a church that refuses to perform same-sex marriages isn't discriminating. Of course it is. I'm just saying it has a right to, if you believe in religious freedom.
          When religious beliefs get turned into civil laws, however, such as when the state outlaws marriage between two people of the same sex, then the church IS imposing on others. I've yet to see an argument against legalizing same-sex marriage that doesn't amount to trying to impose someone's concept of religious "truth" on others. People believe that God shares their prejudice against homosexuality, and that therefore it is right to outlaw it. Religious freedom includes the right to be free of religion -- and to enjoy the civil advantages of marriage without regard to gender.
          And Stuart, thanks for the post -- it's interesting to find out about this debate with regard to Scotland. I'm from the U.S. and strongly believe in the concept of a separation of church and state. I don't think we've achieved it yet, obviously, but I like it as an ideal. It's interesting to have to ask the question "why"?
        • Dec 17 2011: Laura
          I do apologize for having misread.
      • Comment deleted

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        Dec 16 2011: Hi Michael,
        Discriminate: "to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit; the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually; prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment".

        Do you honestly think that a representative of a church who performs heterosexual marriages and refuses to perform same sex marriages because of his/her prejudice is not discriminating?

        Of course "Any clergy can refuse to officiate a marriage ceremony any time he please", and it is discrimination if/when that clergy/person is performing heterosexual marriages and refuses to perform same sex marriages. That is very clearly discrimination, and for you to call discrimination a smokescreen looks silly!

        To call clear discrimination a smokescreen? Interesting
        • Dec 16 2011: Oh it is Colleen. And it is not unconstitutional. Please look. Clergy can refuse anytime to perform a marriage. As I said it happens all the time. It is called freedom of religion Colleen that includes freedom or belief practice and worship.

          Please read my other posts about the 16th century, because obviously you would return to that time period also.
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        Dec 16 2011: Michael,
        You say..."oh it is Colleen". Apparently we agree that it is discrimination. I agree that clergy can refuse anytime to perform a marriage, and some continue to do so, as I clearly stated in an earlier post on this site. This topic asks about legality, not preferences or prejudices.

        I've read all your posts carefully Michael, and perhaps you will read all of mine as well. As a person living in a state that has legalized same sex marriage, I observe that same sex partners who would like to get married in a church, are flocking to those churches who accept, respect and honor EVERYONE who makes a committment to engage in a marriage partnership.

        No Michael, it is not at all obvious that I would like to return to the 16th century. It is very obvious that I want to move forward with beliefs, RATHER than stay in the worldview that kept some people oppressed and rejected because of religious beliefs.
        • Dec 16 2011: Nope. The one that oppressed is the one who allowed government to encroach and demand of the church what it wished. Again see History, 16th Century. Exactly which worldview am I stuck in Colleen. I am dying to hear.

          And I have said nothing about my own feelings on gay marriage in any post. That is another issue. The original question, and the one debated here is whether or not government should force religious groups to do so. The question of legality however hangs not on whether or not clergy will perform the service, but whether or not a state (here in the US) recognizes those marriages as legal. Again, it is the state, not the clergy that make the marriage legal. That is the legal issue and the legal issue hangs around separation of church and state not the question of gay marriage. You and Stuart are arguing for one thing while crying out that what clergy do or not do is illegal, which it is not. Nor Colleen is it discrimination under any interpretation of Civil Rights laws. If, at some time in the future the Supreme Court wishes to make that ruling, the discussion will change. Up until this moment it has not chosen to do so.


          Gay couples who wish to go to those clergy who will officiate those services are fine. They are free to do so.
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        Dec 16 2011: Thanks Michael, I understand the topic pretty well, and I'm going to pass on investigating "History, 16th centruy" at the moment because that is not the topic here.
        • Dec 16 2011: I can understand why you wish to do so, since the "forcing" issue would become so very horribly clear.
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          Dec 16 2011: Micheal, did you happen to read the definition of discrimination? I'm going to post it again, just in case you didn't...

          "to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit; the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually; prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment"

          Yes, the clergy can refuse to perform ceremonies based on individual merit...but for them to refuse to perform them for ALL same-sex couples is blatant discrimination. I don't even see how that can be up for debate!

          And let me be quite clear, I'm not saying that religion is a bad thing, or that I wish for people to stop practicing their religion. I think it can be a really beautiful thing....but there are people among us who have concerns over the implication of a religion being exempt from laws. Can I ask a hypothetical question...it is quite clear in the bible that the stoning of adulterers, blasphemers, disobedient sons (and a whole host of other "sinners") is seen as a positive thing. If the Christian church decide tomorrow that they want to start enforcing this law, should the state allow them?

          And Colleen, I just want to say thanks for your contribution to this debate. Obviously I'm thankful for everyone's contribution because it's great for establishing perspective, and it's beautiful to see respectful discussions, but it was particularly pleasant for me to read your perspective. Thanks :-)
        • Dec 16 2011: This is really hilarious. Clergy can choose period. The state is the one who makes marriage legal. Geez. This is really funny. Because yes Stuart they can choose not to do that on the basis of their freedom. And come Colleen, required/forced, you have to split hairs when the argument is weak.One more time. The state, (and in the US I mean the individual states) which actually sanctions marriage, may or may not choose to recognize same-sex marriages. Even if they do, clergy are free to not perform marriages of whomever they choose. That applies to any and all criteria the individual clergyman might apply. They are breaking no law whenever they choose to do that. Even in a state that allows gay marriage. Clergy are not breaking the law by not marrying someone. They only act as an agent for the state, it is the state that makes the marriage legal or illegal. That is such simple jurisprudence. If it were not so, then clergy in several states would have already been arrested.To "require" them to do so by whatever governmental action is still, foremost, destroying the separation of church and state. And yes, that right, guaranteed in the Constitution, would and should take precedence over the laws of any state. Again Federal law, the Bill of Rights in this case, trumps any state law. See the 14th and 15 amendments. To be a member of a community Colleen is a wonderful thing. But again you seem confused. Clergy who do not choose to perform ceremonies are actually following the law. There is no law to require them to marry anyone, it is an agency granted by the state to the clergy. As an agent, not the lawmaking or enforcing body, they are in total liberty to not act as an agent.But then again, what you wish is for the state to require them to do something that is against their religious belief. It is called, "excessive entanglement." And oh dear would it be.
        • Dec 21 2011: Absolutely not Pierre. Religion and legal structure are tow different separate things in the US. It is guaranteed in the first Amendment to the US Constitution. Laws do affect religious groups obviously. However, there is a wall of spearation metaphor used by the courts. The other is "unecessary entanglement." there should not be eithe rone.
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        Dec 16 2011: Michael,
        The word Stuart used in the topic heading is "required", not forced. I agree that whether or not one is a member of a church group, or any other group, that individual is still a member of the community who passes the laws, and should be required to follow the societal laws as everyone is required to follow the laws. Religious dogma should not exempt anyone from following the laws of the society.
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        Dec 16 2011: Michael,
        I am not at all confused. That label is not necessary, and it is recognized as a common practice, when one has no other argument for a debate.
        • Dec 17 2011: Colleen it is you who have no argument. I have argued cogently and correctly about the law. Not what you wish the law to be but the law. It seems on TED at times when cannot or has no further argument, that censoring of ideas comes out. I see someone, I wonder who, has had Kathy's posts deleted. Hmmm. If you can show me with reason, why my arguments, sighting state or constitutional law are wrong,I will admit it to be so. If you can show me where, either in state statutues or Federal law, where it says a clergyman must or is "required" to perform marriages under any and all circumstances or any and all situations, I would love to be enlightened by you. But you cannot. You cannot argue that such requiring of clergy would not be counter to separation of church and state, the wall of separation metaphor or the excessive entanglement metaphor used by the courts. Just as above you could not show me where under current law as interpreted by the US Supreme Court it is discrimination for them not to do so. You cannot because those rulings have never been made. So I stand behind my arguments and your lack of them. Show me with reasoned speech and law Colleen.
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          Dec 17 2011: Hi Michael,

          I think you need to read Colleen's comments again...you'll note that she uses the word "should be" and not "are". As far as I understood it, we were talking about what the law should be, not what the law currently is. Hopefully, Colleen will correct me if I'm wrong.

          And with regards to what you're saying about the requirement; the law which allows them to be exempt from performing same sex marriage goes against the "wall of separation" metaphor.
        • Dec 17 2011: The law Stuart which allows them to not be "required" by government is in guaranteed by the amendment. It falls under the section of protection for the free exercise of religion, which it would not be if they are required to perform an act counter to their beliefs.
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          Dec 17 2011: Michael, once again that's specific to America, which I didn't ask about.

          Surely this topic illustrates how undemocratic the constitution is though?
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        Dec 17 2011: Michael,

        1) I am familier with the laws in question in the state where I live, and have stated my thoughts and feelings regarding such law.

        2). Re: "Kathy's posts deleted"
        I believe TED has a terms of use agreement, and when one is not in complience, his/her comments may be removed. That is something you can address with the TED administration.
        I am also aware, that Kathy K often removes all of her own comments.

        3) I have not, in any way, tried to show you why your arguments are "wrong". I have simply stated information I have, regarding the law in the state where I reside, and my personal beliefs regarding this topic

        4) Yes, I can argue that any church or other organization should comply with laws which are passed by the majority of people in a community/state/country. I have presented my argument respectfully, Michael, and I will not be intimidated by you, because that is exactly what you are trying to do.
        • Dec 17 2011: No. Colleen I am trying to speak to the law and to the question raised.
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        Dec 17 2011: Michael,
        Repeatedly telling those who disagree with you that s/he is confused and does not understand the topic or the law, is not a productive way to share your perceptions, beliefs and ideas. Put your own beliefs regarding the topic "out there" without trying to undermine other people's ideas. I know you can do it... thanks:>)
        • Dec 21 2011: No, it is counterproductive when presented with facts, people do not repsond with facts. I am putting my ideas out there Colleen and have stated them repeatedly in all of my posts. The question should religions be required by government is simply no. I have stated reasons why, separation of church and state and the US Constitution. Geez. Why don't you please stay with the topic in questin rather than plying the "shift the question" game in order to to blur the real issue. The real issue is that government has no rigth or necessity to require clergy to perform a ceremony they wish not to perform. And please Colleen, forget the discrimination thing. Clergy decide all the time not to perform weddings. Oh yeah Collen, that was another one of my ideas.
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        Dec 21 2011: I respect your beliefs as your beliefs Michael. No Michael, I will never "forget the discrimination thing".
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      Dec 15 2011: Me too. I am not a gay basher but since when does the government have the right to infringe on and mandate what religions should do..We have too much government (federal) interference here in the US now.
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        Dec 15 2011: Hi Helen,

        The government has every right to infringe on and mandate what religions should do. For various reasons;

        1. This isn't the rules of "government", it's the rules of a democracy (one in which the views of religious people are taken into account when they vote)
        2. Everyone who lives in a certain country has to abide by the rules of that countries government. Since we all have to live under the law of man, and not the law of religion....the law of man should take precedence.
        3. And finally, government's already do mandate what religions can and cannot do. If they didn't, then they wouldn't be able to hold anyone accountable for things such as 9/11, which was the actions of religious fundamentalists (horrible actions I know, but still based on religion).
        • Dec 15 2011: Stuart,

          "...has to abide by the rules of that coutries government...:

          In Uganda homosexuality is punishable by death. Knowing of a homosexual and not reporting them, even your own child, is punishable by life inprisonment. That is not a law I feel we should endorse and obey simply because it was formulated by a secular authority.

          I know, this is kind of a reducto ad absurbum, and if Uganda was the only place where this was true I might think it some horrible abberation. Sadly it is one of many lands who makes such laws.

          Living under the umbrealla of the mutually agreed upon fictions of modern rights we forget the brutal realities these sexual issues can generate. The refusal to endorse marraige by a religion is small potatoes compared to this secular attrocity.

          Best Regards.
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          Dec 16 2011: Stuart,

          I am not answering to the main topic here but to your 3rd point.

          Regarding terror acts or any type of actions that the actors do in the name of a doctrine, religious or belief: you cannot assume that is a will of religions!
          As a democrat, you should be aware that they are not entitled to speak in the name of any communities. It is not because they say and believe so that they are!
          I have been living in a Muslim country for two years and never heard of anyone agreeing on any terror acts. Terrorist are not elected or representative of any religious community. Come on, 911 as nothing to do with a religious act!

          Come on Stuart!

          In the same logic using word such as “War against Terror” leads to the same false idea? It is not an army or any organization representing a community. It is just a small group of extremist that are criminals. Nothing more!
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          Dec 16 2011: Stuart,

          There is a vast an important difference between what the state (governent) recognizes as marriage and what a given religion and its doctrine recognizes as marriage. The state has no business in internal religuous doctrine unless that doctrine , or teachings incites hate speech or other criminal activity.

          You raise a question really of where that boundary is.

          If the State says polygamy is a crime and a sect values and sanctions polygamous marriage that comes into conflict with law and does not allow the excercise of polygamy.

          Are you really asking the inverse? If the state upholds a freedom ( e.g to marry a person of the same sex) is a religious organization in violation of the law if it refuses to sanction a same sex marraige.?

          I still say no. Because the law applies to all of us and for every freedom granted by law there are remedies inlaw to defend and uphold those freedoms. If same sex maraige is recognized by law, in all matters where law governs, there may be no actions which fail to recognize that as marriage ( insurance, health benefits, next of kin or sposual rights at hospitals when the beloved cannot speak for themselves)

          Religion is a matter of choice.. a free choice protected by law. In choosing a religion we also choose the doctrine of that religion which may include a narrowing of rights and priveleges granted in law. We choose that narrowing. We elect to undertake a life that is narrower than the freedoms allowed by law voluntarily, as a personal act of faith and commitment..

          When there is a conflict between the doctrine of the reiligion we have chosen and the freedoms the state alows, it is binding on us to work that out within ourselves. It is not the states business to mandate that all religious doctrine comply to and recognize the freedoms granted by the state.

          I do think though it is important in religious community to stand up for what you believe and to ask those in your community to work this through in community.
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        Dec 16 2011: Hi Ian, sorry I cant respond to your argument directly. the reply button doesn't seem to be working.

        Whilst I see your argument, and I think it's essential for maintaining a healthy perspective, it is still pretty weak. Unless I interpreted it incorrectly; you are basically arguing that people shouldn't fight for equality because there are other countries where people are discriminated against worse than here?

        Ultimately, society should stop progressing until.....what? Every other country catches up?

        And if I could participate in the creation and enforcement of laws in these other countries then, believe me, I would.
        • Dec 17 2011: Stuart,

          I do not contend we should wait for the world to catch up, nothing like that.perhaps I am picking nits but your comment that...

          "2. Everyone who lives in a certain country has to abide by the rules of that countries government. Since we all have to live under the law of man, and not the law of religion....the law of man should take precedence."

          ...was dangerous in ways. Yes, I agree that the final authority should be secular, if that secular system can be trusted to make moral law. Secular endorsement alone cannot and should not dictate what morality itself is.

          More important I think, than either the religious or secular positions on this issue is the ethical one. Unethical laws should be contested, no matter thier source, as with Ghandi and the salt march, Rosa Parks and the segregation of public transit, etc... Ethics is, in my mind, the highest court of behaviour.
          Now, as I said, I am kind of picking at details, but debate is in the details. And I did point out earlier that it was a kind of reducto ad absrubum.

          As I have stated elsewhere, the ethics of forcing a religious practicioner to perform a ceremony is ambiguous at best. If secular alternatives for union exist in a country, who are we to force another to act against thier own conscience? Refusal to act should be allowed to anyone in this sort of dispute. You have the right not to vote, not to be religious, etc.. as this does not trammel the rights of others, you do not have the right to force another to vote, or to be religious.

          Religious practicioners, and orginizations, should have this right of refusal. I have detailed my argument on this in other posts here.

          Note, that this right to refuse does not apply where the rights of others are influenced, as in the mandatory adoption issue.

          Best Regards
        • Dec 17 2011: Stuart,

          As to participating in the laws of brutal nations, don't write off your ability to do so. Amnesty international is a rewarding place to spend some effort.

          Best Regards
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        Dec 16 2011: Hi Louis,

        If these people are doing something under the name of religion, then the idea is perfectly acceptable that they believe their creator has instructed them to do so. And just to clarify, I am in no way stating that Islam is encouraging people to commit hideous acts of mass murder, what I am saying is that there are alternative branches and interpretations of holy texts (in fact, I daresay with the nature of religion, people could argue that God has spoken to the person directly, which of course, we could neither prove nor disprove).

        I could use the Westboro Baptist Church as an argument; it's not every day you see people so heartless as to picket the funerals of gay people and dead soldiers etc. but they act under the doctrine of a specific religion and they're just as much entitled to their opinion as other people.

        And on your last statement; everyone has the right to their personal religion, including those people who interpret it in an extreme way. And given that the bible actually states that adulterers and blasphemers etc. should be stoned...I don't understand why more religious bodies aren't extremists! Oh wait, it's because they have to live under the law of the land.
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        Dec 17 2011: Hi Ian,

        I wasn't contending that religious views shouldn't have a say in the law making process. But what you are arguing goes against democracy, or states that religion should exist outwith a democracy, and it's that which I don't agree with.

        Surely if any law gets made in a legitimate democratic process then it should have a say over any religion (given that those religious members have just as much of a say in the democratic process)?
        • Dec 19 2011: Hi Stuart,

          The point of the US bill of rights is that there are fundamental rights which the government cannot take away. It is precisely to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.

          Another way of looking at this is to state that there is no legitimate democratic process that infringes on an individual's right to practice his religon as he sees fit. Our courts can, and often do, rule a law invalid because in infringes on rights enumerated in our constitution.

          Thanks,
          Doug
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    Dec 20 2011: The separation of church and state should be called into the equation. The problem is that everybody is thinking about the whole issue backwards. Same-sex marriage should be a non-issue because hetero marriages should be a church governed thing, not state. If the government were to step back and recognize only a civil union between two people, rather than the christian sacred marriage, then any persons could join into such a union with equal rights. But on the other side of the coin, the homosexual community also has to understand that they are not in a christian marriage. The government cannot and should not force a religion to participate in something that goes against the belief system that comprises that religion. Unless of course it actively infringes on the rights of others under that government's protection. A same sex couple demanding a religious organization to recognize a marriage is an infringement on that organization's rights to believe and practice freely. Also a religious leader should not have the ability to create a government recognized civil union. They should be separate. But as we all know, change like this is slow to becoming reality....
    • Dec 21 2011: Well said Zachary. Please look down at my arguments fo rthe same thing down below. Separation of church and state is at the very heart of this question. And the question is not "is gay marriage correct" but should the government "require" religios bodies to perform services. The answer is still no.
  • Dec 18 2011: Gay marriage is already legal in Canada. It began with provincial supreme courts recognizing the rights of gay people to marry. In 2005 the Canadian Government passed a Bill making it official. Churches do not have to marry gay couples but some do. Civil servants are not allowed to refuse based on religious principles.

    It works well here. I think it's a good balance between rights. Gay people don't seem to mind. I think it follows the "live and let live" principle. The church that pickets gay funerals would not be permitted here. It would fall under "hate speech" laws.

    I think trying to force churchs to perform marriages would cause a great deal of unnecessary strife. It could even force churches "underground". It would probably increase physical attacks on gay people. I think it is discriminatory but technically churches are not businesses. It still bothers me though. If we are lucky within 50 years no one will be attending them.
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      Dec 18 2011: Hi Gisele,
      Thanks for this information...good comment:>)

      One of your statements is really interesting...you write...
      "Civil servants are not allowed to refuse based on religious principles". Churches can, however, refuse based on religious principles? So technically, it depends on who holds the principles, even though the principles may be the same? That's interesting! And I agree with you...discriminatory.

      I agree with you that churches are not technically businesses. However, the catholic church, for example, is one of the richest entities in the world, and they often charge to perform marriage services. Since they charge for performing the service, does that put them in the "business" catagory?
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    Dec 17 2011: Well, that's a great question. I am pro gay marriage to the core, however, I don't think all religious institutions should have to perform the ceremonies if its something they are definitely against. I think for me, I look at it from the standpoint that your wedding is supposed to be a beautiful thing and the relationship between the two getting married is as important as the pastor who does the service. If he/she is against it I think it would appear like a chore and would really mess up the positive and love feelings of the day. However, religious institutions need to get with the times and realize that by them being so close minded and unaccepting they are definitely contradicting the concept of religion.
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      Dec 18 2011: Good point Erin,
      I agree that "religious institutions need to get with the times and realize that by them being so close minded and unaccepting, they are definitely contradicting the concept of religion".

      Perhaps if all churches move forward, and logically, respectfully deal with this issue, no legal intervention is necessary!
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    Dec 17 2011: Much of the various churches reactions against S.S.M. as was seen in Calif. was at the time partly justified for just this reason. It was predicted that if it were accepted for secular law then the slippery slope dynamic would end with all churches being pressured to solemnize S.S.M. in their churches and temples. You are proving their prophesy! Don't be surprised if Limbaugh and Hannighty report this "vicious attack" by the world wide conspiracy of "gay liberal un-Americans". Their next point was that then the law would force them to allow gay couples to adopt infants placed with their social services. Since they BELIEVE that all gay people are also pedophiles and if not then at the very least they would raise the kids to be gay maybe you can get a sense of the extreme reaction this creates. They really fear that gay people are working to take over the planet, not for equal rights. This same kind of fear was voiced that Obama was planning to give superior rights to African Americans and is still believed by all too many.
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      Dec 17 2011: Hi Chad,
      We had some of the same reactions here in Vermont when the issue of "civil unions" was being discussed in the legislature. Finally it passed. Then, of course the discussions and reactions presented again when same sex marriage was being discussed...and then it passed more easily than "civil unions", which was legalized a few years prior to SSM. My perception is that people were starting to adjust to the change. Change takes time and persistance.

      Re: Infants placed with same sex partners:
      I worked as a case reviewer for the state agency which oversees children in state custody. We had several same sex foster parents, who were the best possible. While there was abusive situations with some of the foster parents, I was never aware of any abuse with any of the same sex foster parents. You are right Chad...it is mis-information, usually caused by fear.
  • Dec 16 2011: That's an extremely interesting question. This question has no clear answer. There is the moral answer of yes. Yes, morally, gay people should be allowed to wed once being gay is no longer unlawful (which one would hope is soon.) Legally though, it gets tricky. I think that the government should be allowed to force churches and houses of worship to wed gay people, even if the churches feel that is against their own beliefs. The law is the law, and if gay people are just as free to be married as straight people under the law, their rights should be upheld by all who live under that law. If a priest kills someone in a church even though the bible says he shouldn't murder, does that mean that he must be prosecuted by the church? No! He would be prosecuted by the government. I think we take that for granted. I am certain there are holes in my argument, but I wish to see the day when this question does not have to be poised because no church would ever think of denying a human being his or her rights.
    • Dec 16 2011: Ah the law is not the law Alex. In a case law situation, there are alway precedents, and rulings that govern current decisions. Breaking down the religious liberty clause "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Killing someone has absolutely no relation to the argument at hand. There is no such thing as a "right" guaranteed by the constitution to marry. Marriage laws are constructed in each state. Please understand what a right is and is not. The higher right, outlined in the amendmentwould take precedence. Clearly, forcing a religious body to marry people that would violate their beliefs is clearly in contradiction to "the free exercise therof" clause.

      Thank goodness I live in the United States.
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        Dec 16 2011: Again, see my point above about the "wall of separation".

        '

        "Thank goodness I live in the United States."

        As if that's not a perspective we hear very often from Americans.
        • Dec 16 2011: Sorry Stuart. your arguments hold no weight. You do not understand the law. The wall of separation exists in the US and has for years. Yes, it is a separation and the government cannot restrict the free exercise of religion.

          You are totally confusing issues. Seeking to make gay marriage legal is one thing. Seeking to force religious bodies to officiate marriages is another. Changing societal values is another thing in itself. Please see the difference here.

          Say what you will Stuart, the separation is in the US Constitution, it is a good law, and I do not wish it to be infringed upon.
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    Dec 15 2011: The state simply can't and shouldn't force anyone to do anything. It can only forbid you to do something in consensus with the people. Passive instead of active intervention to establish rules in a society on which everyone can agree. The church as an institution has not the same, but very similar rights in this context (I'm not sure on the details, but I would say this is accurate enough for this discussion).
    Therefore churches can't be forced to conduct marriages against their will just like you can't be forced to take the bus when you would rather drive your own car instead.
    After all the "church" is a group of people who believe homosexuals shouldn't marry, or even be homosexual. It is their opinion; it's stupid, but you can't force them to believe anything else. Only hope they will some day acknowledge the facts and change their mind
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      Dec 15 2011: Hi, I don't know if you saw one of my other posts, but in 2007 the government imposed a law which stated that all religious adoption agencies must serve same-sex couples or face closure! The government forces shops and businesses to provide their service to homosexual people regardless of whether they agree with it!

      If it helps, look at it this way; the government could forbid religious bodies from turning away same-sex couples!
  • Dec 15 2011: no because thats what would cause more arguments just go to a differant place...BLAH
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      Dec 16 2011: I see...so I've to move out of my native land, but religious bodies should stay put? What if I said that they could "just go to a different place"? I, however, know that is a nonsensical argument, and therefore would not make it.
  • Dec 15 2011: If we put aside fundamentalist views and look at the state of the modern churches (I'm Scottish so this will be directly relevent and perhaps only exclusively relevent to this debabte) they have slowly begun to accept homosexual members, including priests etc., so it seems ludicrous to then deny them the LGB community priviledge of a church ordained service.

    The arguments put forward by some people that we should simply let the churches die out or lose members isn't very helpful. There will, for better or worse, be same-sex couples who wish to be married in a religious fashion. Since religion practice is a choice there are no 'rights' associated with it bar the state trying to limit discrimination against it. However there are rights about bodies discriminating against same-sex relationships, which seems to be the crux of Stuart's argument, which is clearly what is happening here; the church is saying there is one rule for one group of individuals and another for the group in question.

    The murky waters in this argument between the state protecting the views of religious institutions and the state protecting the LGB community all comes down to simply protecting the feelings of both. The state wants there to be a country entirely free of discrimination or segregation of any sort and the arbitrary but influential rules of religion oppose this process.
    • Dec 15 2011: There is no civil right that I know of in any society that says a religious group has to do a certain thing, unless there is no separation of church and state. Boy does this issue get confused. "Not discriminating" is a very wide berth. All organizations do so in many ways. The question would actually solve itself if it were to become legal. Some churches would do it and some not. Forcing a religious group to do it is not in any way changing discrimination against gays.

      I agree with Allan below, civil society is civil society, religious society is well, just that.

      As I said before, please do not force me to return to the 16th century.
  • Dec 15 2011: I agree that same sex marriages should be allowed in every country but when it comes to religion I dont agree here. Religion is allowed to have its own rules and ideals and I dont agree that anyone is allowed to push others to adopt their choices. Freedom of speech and ideology must always be respected.
  • Dec 15 2011: As an aside...

    George Carlin once wondered,

    "Why do the Catholics have such a problem with gays? You would think they would be natural allies, as no other group is less likely to have an abortion."
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      Dec 15 2011: Hi Don,
      My "state" does not deny the existence of a divine creator, to the best of my understanding, and we have passed a law protecting the choice to marry same sex partners.

      You say..."The state can approve a marriage outside of a church and get around it that way".
      What are we trying to "get around"?

      You also say..."to deny the right of a religious body is to be an injustice to its members".
      What about the members who choose same sex partners? What does it do to them? Isn't the foundation of most religions...Love thy neighbor? Do unto others...? How do you think it might feel, if you learned these teachings as a child in a particular church, then found out that the same church would not honor your committment to a partner you chose because s/he was not the "right" sexual orientation? Can you feel what that might be like?
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    Dec 15 2011: First of all, I'd like to say, that the state I live in (Vermont, USA) became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage through legislative means rather than litigation, on April 7, 2009. Kudos to us!!!

    Technically, yes, I believe that religious bodies should be required to follow the law just like any other entity.

    In reality, what is happening here, is that some religious representatives are refusing to follow the law, and therefor, people who want same sex partnerships are leaving the churches whose representatives refuse to honor their committment to each other. I believe David Hamilton, in a comment at the end of this thread hit the nail on the head! People will "flock to the ones that embrace everyone". We can then identify those groups of church-going people who are living what they preach....or not.

    Edit:
    Nice job facilitating this discussion topic Stuart, which is obviously still challenging for some people. Thanks for your compliments:>)
    • Dec 21 2011: Actually Colleen the people who do not wish to be forced by the government are living what they preach strange huh?
  • Dec 15 2011: No. No. No. If anything, legalized same-sex marriage will be secular. Religious bodies should not and can not be force to perform same-sex marriage.
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      Dec 15 2011: Why shouldn't they be forced to?

      And why should same-sex marriages be secular? I'm certain that gay people have just as much right to religion as anyone else.
      • Dec 15 2011: But religion is not a government right/privilege neither is it imposed. People who do not like the precepts of certain religions just move ahead to another one. Government influence on things like how a religion should conduct its practices, i.e in this case, becomes a slippery slope.
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          Dec 15 2011: There are a plethora of reasons why they should be forced to; the first being that they openly and actively discriminate against certain demographics, and in a society in which we are trying to encourage and enforce equality, I dont think it's right to make "equality" something that people opt into to.

          And whether homosexuality goes against "the law of creation" or not, has nothing to do with it. My government does not affiliate itself with such laws, and so therefore it's irrelevant.

          And while we're at it, since you don't actually know the "laws of creation" or who controls them, then I dont think you have any right to speak on their behalf. Humanity still doesn't know what it is that causes heterosexuality, and by proxy, they also dont know what causes homosexuality...and one can only assume that since "creation" made gay people, it has some kind of purpose for them. So please don't use theoretical arguments about the "laws of creation". They're irrelevant to state laws.
        • Dec 15 2011: Kathy,

          Respectfully I do not think the unnatural anrgument can stand in the face of biology. Hundreds of mammillian species have been documented in homosexual activity in both captivity and in the wild. Note that while researchers did not often set out to specifically document this activity it occured so often they would have to be blind to have missed it. Deer, wolves, dolphins, elephents, etc... A little research will reveal that all of these species regularly engage in what we call homosexuality. Bisexuality would be a better term, an homosexual exclusivity in other mammals has , to my knowledge, not yet been documented. Then again, I doubt anyone is out specifically looking for it.

          But in the face of all of this animal hanky-panky, can you really say that homosexuality is unnatural? I might add that lesbien deer are not ostrasized from the herd for thier activities.

          Best Regards.
      • Dec 15 2011: Stuart,

        As to why religions should not be forced to perform these marraiges.

        We cannot ,in good faith, force another to act against his own faith as long as that belief does not actively trammel upon the rights of others. Refusal to perform ceremony is a passive choice, not an active one. You have as much right to force a Jew to work on the Sabbath, or a Muslim to pray towards New York, (like a banker), rather than Mecca.

        True, some grey areas exist here because of the race/gender issue. A religion may not segregate according to race, though this does not stop many chuch attendants from 'ad-hoc' segregation. But this is not the same thing as homosexuality, largely because alternate sexualities come in all colors. Perhaps if catholocism closed it's door to all alternately disposed sexualities you could make a moral case against them, but otherwise I do not agree that your right to a ceremony over-rides thier right to refuse one.

        Note that I make this arguement purely on secular moral grounds, not religious ones.

        Best Regards.
        • Dec 16 2011: Stuart
          In the US, in places where gay marriage is legal, there are clergy who officiate gay marriages and those who do not. They can seek clergy who do perform those marriages and they are free to do so. Clergy in the US do not have to perform a ceremony for anyone if they choose no to do so. As I said to Colleen above, that is why it is called freedom of religion. Your argument is supposedly, about forcing religious groups to perform marriages. However if you will look back over your own posts that is not what you are defending.
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          Dec 16 2011: Hi Michael,

          Once again this goes back to the individual merits argument above. Yes, the clergy can refuse based on individual merits, but it shouldn't be allowed to discriminate so blatantly.

          And I've looked back over my posts, and still all I can see is discussion about whether religion should be required by law to perform same-sex ceremonies. But please enlighten me...what am I actually advocating?
      • Dec 15 2011: Stuart
        You are confusing things. Gay people may or may not have the right to marry depending upon the legal system. Of course they have a right to be religious, but that is not what you are saying. You are saying the government should force religious bodies to perform the marriages. These are totally different issues.
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          Dec 16 2011: I am not confusing issues...it's a valid response when people ask "Why would gay people want to get married in a church?".

          That is why. Because they, themselves, might wish to have their marriage witnessed by their God. I didn't just spring that argument out of nowhere, it was in response to certain points.
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        • Dec 16 2011: Kathy,

          I do feel it is pertinant, as you claim it is against ..."the law of creation : the law of nature." I agree that if you limit this commet's applicability to pro-creative homo sapiens the homosexual actions of wildlife are not applicable. But this, I feel, is an artificial restriction.

          Biologists theorize that the change in homosexual activity in rats may be directly reciprocal with population fluctuations. the more population pressure, the more homosexual activity. I wonder if a gene structure is not responsible which "naturally" seeks to limit populations by adapting species sexuality. in this light homosexual activity among mammals is directly related to population control, and thus to procreation, or the lack thereof.

          Note that this behaviour is not limited to rats, just that rat population fluctuations can be studied in a lab, wolves are more problematical.

          Why would this "law of nature" apply to animals and not to us? And if it is thus restricted, is it natural law, or human law ?

          Is the increase of homosexuality in the world, at least in part, a response to population pressure?

          As a note, there is a common confusion in the terminology between homo sapien ( a latin term) and homosexuality, (a greek one). In Latin "Homo" means human or man, in the greek context it mean "same", or "equal." Thus the root of homosexuality is "Same-sexing", not "human-sexing". This is why the term applies to both genders in fact, if not in common useage.

          As to the deer, I find it significant that we are the only species that deliniates social acceptance predicated on sexual preffereance. Social acceptence in our case being marraige. Perhaps my choice of terms was a tad flippant, for which I apologize. I do not meen to assault, but rather to investigate ideas.

          Beat regards..
        • Dec 16 2011: Kathy

          Hionestly, I feel each of these instances is a valid contributipon to an ongoing conversation. In mentioning animanl behavior I am trying to define and understand this interpretation of 'natural lawe' which I did not initiate. You used the law of creation, the law of nature to support one of your arguments, and I am seeking to investigate that idea, as I do not implicitly agree with it.

          Further, I did not initiate the 'homo..' linguistic distinction, ( as you cited that it reffered to humans), merely attempted to quality and clarify it. You will note that 'homo' in the greek sanse of 'same' is as applicable to animal species as it is to humans.While thier immediate relevance to forcing churchs to perform marraiges is indeed a stretch, I believe they are relevant to the onging context of an evolving debate.

          You cannot expect me to accept distinctions such as "natural law" or "law of creation" as evidence in support of an argument without investigating and debating thier reasoning. This is simply a process of defining and understanding which naturally accompanies conversation. If you disagree, you are free to ignore these contributions.

          You will note that I have made several other comments on this debate directly related to the morality and legality of the issue. I have not limited myself to these digressive interpretations. In fact, we seem to agree that forcing religions into performing unendorsed marraiges is inapropriate, though my grounds are merely moral, while your include spiritual foundations.

          Best Regards
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          Dec 16 2011: But aren't governments imposing at least the most basic laws on religion? Because the last time I checked, a pastor or priest would be in big trouble for killing someone even if their god sanctions the killing. You still can't do it without consequences.

          There are laws within countries, states, and cities, that religions need to follow that may or may not go against their practice. That's life.
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          Dec 16 2011: Hi Kathy, there's a lot here so I'm going to try and answer in the points you've set out above...

          1. This is simply a matter of disagreement. I believe that the existence of discrimination is a perfectly good reason to make laws preventing it.

          2. With regards to your "laws of creation"; I think you'll find that marriage has absolutely nothing to do with procreation. I'm not sure if you're aware, but women can get pregnant out of wedlock...and this is why your "laws of creation" have diddly squat to do with this debate.

          3. My government already imposes laws upon religion. As does yours. As I've stated elsewhere, neither your government nor mine allow for polygamous marriages which are sometimes encouraged by certain religions. And this is one example of many!

          4.You're right, those particular religious bodies might stop performing ceremonies. When the laws changed in 2007, some of the Catholic adoption agencies decided they would rather shut down and stop providing homes to children because they didn't want to serve same sex couples. That's not the only alternative though, that's the choice of the organisations. And if man's law required it...then it would be be enforced.

          5. When referring to religion, you must refer to them all, for each person has equal rights to their personal beliefs. Even Satanists.
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          Dec 16 2011: 6. See article no.2 in the post above. This discussion about the "law of creation" has already been proven irrelevant. Procreation is a completely different issue from marriage...and this "law of creation" deals only with procreation...so therefore it's irrelevant to a discussion about marriage.

          7. I feel it's important to mention that you're talking about a specific doctrine. There are many different doctrines which do not share the same opinion.
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          Dec 16 2011: 8. Correction; "the canons of A sacred doctrine". And I'm assuming the "canons" you're talking about is your "laws of creation" which, as you'll see above...have been deemed irrelevant.

          9. That would be the choice of the religious organisation. Since there are religious organisations which are happy to perform same sex marriages, I'm certain these are the ones that will prosper anyway. I do understand the state being separate from the church, but, as I've stated many times before. A church still needs to abide by the laws of the land. The laws of the land come first.
    • Dec 17 2011: Zared,

      I might point out that , "No, No, No...." is an opinion, not a debate.
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      Dec 15 2011: I see your argument, and I definitely respect what you say.

      But personally I think it's "abominable" for my state (which is supposed to be separate from religion) to state that it's okay for religious bodies to discriminate against members of the LGBTQI community, simply because they're a religion!

      Some religions permit polygamous marriages, and some different branches of these religions actually encourage it to aid procreation. However, we as a state do not allow that....
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        • Dec 15 2011: As a comment. I believe that if you research the history of modern law you will find it based largely on English common-law, which was in turn founded on Roman law, which pre-dates christian Rome and finds it roots in pagan greek philosophy, among other heathen and secular sources. This evolution of Law from it's first scribing on the stele of Hammurabi of Babylon in 1750 B.C.is a well documented and widely accepted historical process.

          Further, religions are not exempt from secular law in either the United States, or the Commonwealth. I think you will find the first amendment of the American Constitution, and also the Charter of Rights in Canada guaruntees the freedom to establish and practice any religion, but it does not carte blanche sanction the internal activities of the religious orginizations.

          For example the famed 'Sancuary" of the church is a convention, rather than a law and does not bind legal officials. Ploygamy is illegal, despite religious endorsement, as is bride price, racial and non-voluntary gender segregation,etc... The stoneing of homosexuals, and persecution of menstrating women who enter a church is also illegal, despite it's endorsement in the bible. (Leviticus 20-13). I thus do not believe that gods law has trumped mans law.

          To conclude, in a multi-religious democracy it seems logical that the final decisions regarding the rights and duties of individuals must be meeted out by a secular authority, rather than a spiritual one. If any one religious group made or influenced the Law, it would violate the first amendment / Charter of Rights. As marraige is a legal state, as well as a spiritual one, it is those secular bodies which should have jurisdiction.

          Those groups that do not endorse this with ceremony will, I think, gradually lose adherents. That should be thier own choice, and they should not be forced to act against thier own moral code. I have as much right to forbid a priest celibacy, as perform a marraige.

          Beat Regards.
  • Dec 20 2011: No. It's breaking of base of religion. I'm atheist, but I think religion in it's original state is important for many people. We can't cut off they needs for same-sex marriage. It's impolite.
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    V Raj

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    Dec 20 2011: MARRIAGE They Say Is A Bond of Love... Trust... Sharing Of Sorrows & Happiness, Accepting Each Other With Their Shortcomings & Getting Along With Each Other To Make It A Blissfull Relationship.

    Marriage Isn't Subjugtng OneSelf In A Ring With Ringmaster Putting An End To Freedom n Joys! It's findg Pleasure In Feeling Rooted To Someone And Making Her Ur Means n End of Happiness.

    So why does it need the Blessings of a Religion - Any Religion.. Well, I feel Law should be a Facilitator and not an Enforcer in matters of Heart!
  • Dec 19 2011: It is interesting that you as a person from Scotland should raise the issue of what role religion should have in the contract for mutual support between two individuals. I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that in Scotland marriage contracts, contracts for mutual support between two individuals, are registered directly with the state and do not require a religious sanction. In the United States the historical rationale for granting religious sects clergy authority to certify and register marriage contracts was an attempt to extend the the limited reach of distant government as aggressive and nearly lawless Europeans pushed the native population out of the prime real estate.
    I would hope that Scotland would have the good sense to leave sects out of the registry of contracts for mutual support between two individuals and save your nation the rancor the United States is currently experiencing and will continue to experience for years to come, over what constitutes a contract for mutual support between two individual. Currently, individual states regulate marriage and for a few states contracts for mutual support between two individuals. The legal and secular questions to be answered in the United States deal with inheritance; next of kin in end-of-life decision-making; status in the filing of federal, state or local taxes; and financial responsibility of the parties in the termination of such contracts. My advice is keep the sects out of the discussion or debate, they only muddy the waters.
  • Dec 18 2011: I think no one is saying that homosexuals don't have spirituality, or would want to be part of a religion. But let's face it: (for example) the Catholic Church only believes in men/woman marriages. That's the way it is.
    The only way to change this is to do it from the "inside" (not the "outside").
    The outside would be the State. The inside would be the Catholics. If you are a Catholic (I don't know), then you should try to change other Catholics minds.
    My advice: Don't waste time in that. Better start another religious group, where homosexuality is not frowned upon. You think you are entitled to marry in a Church because you believe in your God. Please don't forget that "their" God thinks homosexuals are sick. I don't think you believe in that God.
    Don't stop being religious, but don't force your opinions on other people's either.
  • Dec 18 2011: Churches are allowed to perform marriages but it isn't a requirement. They could choose not to perform any marriages. It is not their responsibility. They can choose not to marry any couples at all or they can choose to marry some but not others. Just like they don't have to give everyone holy communion.

    Canada balances rights, and freedom of religion is an important one. To force churches to marry people would be to force them to sin.

    Civil servants cannot refuse based on religious principals because they are government employees. They perform civil not religious marriages. It is their job so if they refuse to marry someone based on their personal beliefs, religious or otherwise, it would be a denial of basic rights. Civil servants can choose to do other work but they cannot differenciate between citizens.

    Most churches here now require pre-marital counselling as a prerequiste in which various issues are discussed. If a couple stated that they would deliberately not have children the Priest could refuse to marry them because the purpose of marriage is procreation.

    The church never divorces people and unless the church gives an anullment individuals cannot remarry within the church. They can still get a civil divorce just not a religious one.

    To me, charging for marriage does put them in the business category but because they are non-profit they are not designated as such. It's just like when charities sell something for fund-raising.