There has been a lot of action and reaction from the US Supreme Court ruling ordaining same-sex marriage. Some states, mine included, have chosen preemptive legislation to protect ministers from being forced to perform ceremonies that do not align with the creed of their church. While I support this move, I do find it sad we have reached a point of political defensiveness that it has become necessary.
However, I've had several people ask me why it is necessary and remark how backwards-thinking it makes our state look. Well, first, I'm not interested in appearances when it comes to effective governance. But moreover, I think there has been precedence set in previous Civil Rights cases during the past few years that defining the difference between same-sex marriage and Holy Matrimony is an important one.
It boils down to what a group means by marriage. Marriage in my view is more than a contract between consenting adults; it is a union sanctioned by God. However, many people do not even believe in God, and therefore do not believe in my definition. In the end, without a spiritual component, be that God, a spirit of Serendipity, collective conscious of Love or whatever, then marriage is merely a contract to determine privileges, duties and beneficiaries. If it is merely a contract, which is the only portion over which the secular court is authorized to rule, then any ceremony attaching additional blessing or sanctions based on personal belief must be protected under the First Amendment -- or one would believe.
This additional value of the ceremony of matrimony is the central key. If a minister's church holds the belief that the ceremony creates a covenant before God and that God requires certain criteria be met for the ceremony to have validity, then it only makes sense for the pastor to refuse to perform the ceremony if the criteria of the creed are not met. The minister would be willingly performing a blasphemous act in eyes of God. That objection must be protected by Religious Liberty.
But not everyone will see that - or respect that. So, let me illustrate the point using a minority religion. Let's consider that someone approaching a druid to become married. For those less familiar, druids were a religious and educated class among the Celtic people during the first millennium. There is a lot lost about their beliefs, but it is commonly accepted they were astronomers, practitioners of natural medicine and may have built Stonehenge.
As the engaged couple discuss their plans for an urban indoor wedding, the druid might explain he only performs druidic weddings outside and away from human construction to convene with the affinity of nature and further forbids technological instruments for music so not to frighten the witnessing pixies and sprites. The couple roll their eyes and insist their union be indoors at the site of some famous architecture and that they also want to have a DJ play the wedding march with a new hip-hop re-mix.
The calm elder would simply refuse to perform the ceremony, explaining what they want is not a druidic ceremony and he cannot officiate over what they want. He clarifies that such a wedding would not allow the proper spirits to bless the union and asking him to perform the ceremony in such circumstances would be a mockery of his station. To force anyone to perform a ceremony that would be a mockery of his or her belief-system is purely disrespectful - and in the US, violates the Bill of Rights.
That is reasonable, and most would side with the druid to tell the couple to find another officiate for their wedding. Most people would agree to that even if they believed his religion was crazy because they would respect this is what the druid believed and these were the requirements of such a ceremony.
To take it a step further, could you imagine if the couple sued in court to force the druid to perform the ceremony? People would be appalled. Some because it was a minority religion being picked on, but most would be appalled because it's a protected belief system. The religion's popularity or how mainstream the belief is have nothing to do with the principle. The ceremony of matrimony, the part over and above the contract, is something non-secular, something religious and something outside any court's authority.
Sadly, there are those people out there, those who will make a mockery of beliefs of someone else to further promote their political agenda. Sadly, we are now to a point in our society where preemptive legislation and clarity of new laws is needed to protect the druids of our land.
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