Sunday, October 7, 2012

When Did We Vote on Heterosexual Marriage?

If laws are in place for a reason, and understandably they are, I’d like to pose a simple question: When did we as a society vote in favor of a union between one man and one woman as the only form of recognized relationship? Well, quite simply put, the answer is 1862… kind of.

In 1862, congress enacted, and President Abraham Lincoln signed into law, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act in direct response to the polygamous Mormons. So really, there wasn’t an actual citizen vote on defining marriage. Upon further research I couldn’t find one instance in the history of our nation where we as a society put so-called traditional marriage up for a vote by the people on whether it is a right or a privilege. So I must ask, should it be?

There are many things we take for granted, mostly because the basic rights we have in this country were put in place because they do not directly interfere with the lives of others. So why do some groups feel threatened by views that differ from their own and feel the need to restrict certain inalienable rights? The answers vary anywhere from strict religious interpretation to stereotypical bigotry, neither of which has any place in a government with a policy of separating religion and law, as well as stating in our Declaration of Independence, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” True, there is plenty of room for interpretation here, but it seems that denying individuals the chance to live their lives freely with whom they wish to live is in direct contrast to that famous phrase, especially if those people wish to enter into a contract recognized by law for the same equal protection already granted others within that society.

Personally, I feel that laws prohibiting marriage to some groups while encouraging it to others are unconstitutional. Voting on something as personal as marriage should never be allowed. But in a society where marriage is both a religious and civil ceremony, one can understand fanatics clinging to claim dominion over its definition. However, the laws already in place protect religious organizations from having to recognize or perform ceremonies that interfere with their belief system. Alas, those claiming biblical authority ignore the fact that polygamy, rape and conjugating with slaves are also sanctioned forms of marriage within the Bible. Of course, they’d have you believe otherwise.

My husband and I are fortunate to belong to a church that supports marriage equality. Our pastor is even preaching a sermon today on the subject and has been an outspoken ally for equal rights. While I will be busy teaching Sunday School with the kiddos, I will most definitely be checking this sermon out when he posts it on the church’s website at I hope you will do the same.

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