Saturday, July 02, 2011

'Cuz God says so' is not good enough anymore

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.” ~James Madison, one of the main authors of the US Constitution.

I read a comment on a blog that two people of the same gender living together, having kids and getting married was “the slippery slope to moral decline.” Ten years ago, cultural warriors were telling us that people living together, having kids and NOT getting married at all was the slippery slope to moral decline. It’s a mark of the culture warriors' adaptability that, as society evolves, they can switch scapegoats so easily.

And that's what the passage of marriage equality in New York was such an achievement. The main benefit is, of course, to gay couples who want their union recognized by law and thus to receive the attendant benefits. It's also important to legislation reflect the equal protection of the law provisions of the state and federal constitutions.

But one of the secondary benefits was to strike a blow against theocratic tendencies. In the NYS debate, the main argument against marriage equality was simple: "God's law says marriage is between one man and one woman. And Man does not have the right to change it."

Except that the debate was not about changing God's law. It was about changing Man's law. The NYS marriage law was written by men and thus men (and women) have it entirely within their power to change that law. "God's law" remains unaffected. Man's law ought to be democratic. God's law can't be.

One reason marriage equality was such an important victory is that it reminds us that we don't live in Iran or Saudi Arabia. We live in a state run by secular and constitutional values. If you are going to deny equal rights to a group of citizens, if you want to change or defend any piece of governmental action or inaction, you have to come up with a better reason than just "Cuz God says so."

1 comment:

semi234 said...

God's Law also tells us that its a sin to eat meat on Fridays & are not supposed to do work on the Sabbath.

God's Law also says that we're not supposed to cut our hair & women are not supposed to alter their visage (like makeup). But I guess the fundamentalists conviantly forget that as well.