The Gross National Debt

Monday, December 3, 2012

Stouble Dandards

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I have long been of the opinion that marriage is more complicated than most people think, and I don't just mean two people trying to live so joined.

Part of my consternation is: Who gets to officiate the ceremony?

If marriage is a religious institution, then government has no part in determining who can perform the ceremony, provided it is conducted as a religious ritual. If marriage is a government function, then government can indeed decide who and who may not officiate a ceremony.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, a federal judge appointed by the late Ronald Reagan, has ruled a person who officiates a marriage ceremony must hold a government-sanctioned role. Religious figures and government officials, as defined in law, may officiate.

At first I thought this was a double standard and double speak and so on, hence the title of this post. As I wrote, my thoughts jelled to some degree.

To me, this ruling pushes marriage toward being a government function, not a religious one. It's government because government allows someone who is a government functionary to officiate a marriage. Period.

That government allows religious figures to officiate a ceremony is a nod to the multi-millenia-old tradition of marriage being overseen by religion. Common Law, in other words. Common Law, especially one this ancient, holds as much sway in courts of law as codified law.

Religion has long been a function of the state, but overseen by the religious side. Talk about your marriages of convenience!

The judge in this case is sort of ruling on the Constitutional Amendment erroneously called "separation of Church and State." The judge ruled that getting ordained enough to perform marriages is pretty simple, but the group suing over this one chose to not get someone ordained. The plaintiffs steadfastly refuse to engage in religion.

By stating that as well, the judge is clearly saying marriage is a religious matter, at least when government is not involved.

The more I think on this one, the more I think this judge has issued a ruling that comes down on the side of religion. While the judge clearly did not define what a religion can be, the judge also said official sanction by a recognized religious body is necessary to perform a marriage.

So, what Judge Barker has done here is clearly split the middle and left matters exactly where they were.

Is marriage a state institution or religious institution? Judge Barker's decision doesn't tell us either way.

1 comment:

  1. ...my religion would allow my pot dealer to perform a marriage.. smoke on that a minute

    ReplyDelete