Excellent new op-ed by Kevin Waterman in the Chestertown Spy on the Eastern Shore. He’s given us permission to reprint it here:
Many Republican voices here in Maryland are calling on people to vote “No” on all of the state ballot questions. I am not one of them. I’m suggesting that people ought to be voting “Yes” on at least one question – Question 6.
I hear a wide variety of objections from my GOP friends to this stance, so I’d like to address them quickly.
Marriage equality is no threat to religious liberty. American courts have always been extremely respectful of freedom of religion and still are today. When churches in America can still legally refuse to marry an interracial couple, have a woman as a priest, or hire a gay person as a Sunday school teacher there is little reason to think any effort to force them to marry same-sex couples would meet with success.
Likewise, marriage equality is no threat to the traditional definition of marriage. If you’re married and you oppose gay marriage, let me ask you something – when did you consider yourself married, when the priest pronounced you man and wife or when your marriage license was recorded at the courthouse? I’m going to wager almost everyone will say it’s the former.
Why is that the case? The reason is simple – there are two kinds of marriage. The first is (Big-M) Marriage, the long-standing social institution that is a foundation of society. The second is (little-m) marriage, a contract between two consenting adults that government uses for classification purposes regarding select benefits and tax obligations.
So given that reality, how can a narrow change in the legal meaning of civil marriage possibly be any threat to Marriage, an institution that has existed for millennia and easily predates the creation of government? Simply put, it can’t.
On the other hand, overturning Maryland’s same-sex marriage law does threaten something: freedom of contract.
We’ve already established that there are key differences between the Marriages done by churches and the marriages offered by the state. Limiting access to that contract to only two adults of different genders is to deny them freedom of contract just as surely as it would be to say two Asians couldn’t create a joint partnership or two Catholics couldn’t jointly lease a property. All are arbitrary limitations, without any compelling state interest, on freedom of contract – one of the foundations of all market economies.
It is disappointing that it has taken our great state so long to rectify this shameful inequity, but at least we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Don’t let yourselves be confused by issues that aren’t really in play – vote “Yes” on Question 6 and vote in favor of more freedom and a less intrusive government.
Please note, that while I am an elected member of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee, I am not speaking on behalf of the committee.