Sunday, November 9, 2008

THE WAR ON GAY MARRIAGE

Slate - The narrow margin of victory for California's Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, may be attributable to millions of dollars in donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons' support for the ballot measure is no small irony given the Church's onetime support of polygamy. The Church disavowed that doctrine in 1890 so that Utah could become a state, but renegade Mormon sects continue to practice polygamy today. . .

LDS leaders expressed support for Proposition 8 in letters to congregations, Web videos, and outreach efforts with the Protect Marriage Coalition. Church elders pressed followers to "support in every way possible the sacred institution of marriage as we know it to be." That translated into at least $14 million in donations from individual Mormons and Mormon-owned businesses, according to a 25-page spreadsheet posted on the Web site Mormonsfor8.com (excerpts below and on the following two pages).

Stop All Monsters - The Mormons dumped tons of money into California to take away the rights of gay Californians to marry. They won. Now, we fight back. So, first up on the Mormon boycott list is Brent Andrus. Brent runs a few hotels, called the Courtyard Marriott, Fairfield Inn Marriott, Residence Inn Marriott and the Spring Hill Suites Marriott.
Please do not do business with these hotels.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review - I've long felt that on both the abortion and the gay marriage issue, activists were not strong enough in making the case that negative laws on such matters are irrefutably the result of religious views and regulations and hence government's involvement represents making a law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" in clear violation of the Constitution.

In other words, instead of considering the issue from the viewpoint of women or gays, look at it from the viewpoint of religions or churches within religions that permit such practices as abortion or gay marriage. They don't have to be in the majority; they simply have to exist. In effect, the government is placing Catholicism or Mormonism above more liberal faiths.

It can be rightfully argued that the government has some interest in such matters - most significantly from the health standpoint - but it may not ignore the Constitution simply because a prohibition is traditional or favors the religions of the majority of voters.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their 'legislature' should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

James Madison's views were similar: "Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a preeminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform."

Wikipedia - From the early Christian era, marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter, with no religious or other ceremony being required. Prior to 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties. The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required. This promise was known as the "verbum." If made in the present tense (e.g., "I marry you"), it was unquestionably binding; if made in the future tense ("I will marry you"), it would constitute a betrothal. But if the couple proceeded to have sexual relations, the union was a marriage. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts.

It was only after the Council of Trent in 1545, as part of the Counter-Reformation, that a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, issued in 1566, which defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life."

This change did not extend to the regions affected by the Protestant Reformation, where marriage by consent continued to be the norm. As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state; by the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had a state involvement in marriage.

In the early modern period, John Calvin and his Protestant colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed "The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage" for recognition. That was the first state involvement in marriage.

In England and Wales, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753 required a formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage. . . The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiated by an Anglican priest in the Anglican Church with two witnesses and registration. The Act did not apply to Jewish marriages or those of Quakers, whose marriages continued to be governed by their own customs.

San Francisco Gate - A day after California voters approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the incendiary issue returned to the state Supreme Court, where gay and lesbian couples and the city of San Francisco filed lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8. . .

And Attorney General Jerry Brown, who represents the state in court, said he would defend the legality of the thousands of same-sex marriages conducted in the 5 1/2 months leading up to election day - even though sponsors of Prop. 8 say the measure was intended to invalidate those marriages. That controversy is also likely to end up before California's high court and could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. . .

A research institute at UCLA has estimated that 18,000 same-sex couples have married in California since the state Supreme Court's ruling legalizing such marriages took effect June 16. . .

Prop. 8 would overturn the court's 4-3 ruling May 15 that declared same-sex couples had the right to marry under the California Constitution on the grounds of privacy and equal protection. Backers of the measure made the court a focus of their campaign, accusing "activist judges" of thwarting the will of voters who had approved a similar measure as an initiative statute in 2000. . .

Although their lawyers would not discuss their strategy publicly, each suit seeks to overturn Prop. 8 on the basis of state law and avoids federal constitutional claims that could send the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gay-rights advocates have tried to keep such disputes away from the nation's high court, out of fear that the justices would issue a nationwide ruling rejecting any right of same-sex marriage under the U.S. Constitution.

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