“Civil society long ago decoupled marriage law from church doctrines”

I have a letter to the editor in today’s Gazette (Frederick/Carroll Counties). Text:

Edward Baber of Frederick (The Gazette Forum, “Giving God benefit of the doubt,” Aug. 16) says no one will budge him from his religious views on marriage. That’s fine. But nothing entitles him to insist that those views be imposed on his fellow citizens.

To begin with, the churches themselves disagree: the Congregationalists, Unitarians, Reform Judaism, and large sectors within the Evangelical Lutherans, Episcopalians, Quakers, Presbyterians and other communities bless same-sex unions, even as many others do not.

The fact is that the state has not looked to the churches for its definition of marriage for a very long time. For centuries, leading religious authorities insisted that a divorced person could not validly remarry while an ex-spouse was still living, a position for which they could cite authority in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

But on that and countless other elements of marriage — from age, health, and racial prerequisites, to the consequences that marriage carries for property and inheritance — civil society long ago decoupled marriage law from church doctrines. And aren’t most of us glad it did?

America is a big country with freedom for everyone. Those of us who welcome legal recognition of committed gay relationships are no threat to the right of others to live freely with different beliefs.

Walter Olson, New Market

The writer is with Maryland for All Families.



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2 responses to ““Civil society long ago decoupled marriage law from church doctrines”

  1. Exactly right. This conventional wisdom that the Christian Right is defending religion or religious freedom is absurd. They are more than happy to force their interpretation of scriptures on all people of faith, whether they agree or not. How is that religious freedom? We need to call them on it.

  2. Pingback: Does gay marriage threaten religious freedom? | Maryland for All Families

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