Magazine article Church & State

Religion and Marriage: Civil Law Must Be Based on Equality, Not Theology

Magazine article Church & State

Religion and Marriage: Civil Law Must Be Based on Equality, Not Theology

Article excerpt

Americans remain divided over the issue of same-sex marriage. But one thing Americans should not be divided over is the need to ground our laws on the principles outlined in the Constitution, not religion.

Despite what Religious Right revisionists would have us believe, U.S. law is not based on the Bible or any other religious text. The U.S. Constitution is a wholly secular document built upon the concepts of fairness and equality for all citizens. It contains no appeals to sectarian authority.

What does this mean for our country? It clearly doesn't mean that religious practices are not welcome in America. They obviously are. In fact, faith has flourished here under a Constitution that guarantees to all the freedom to believe (or not believe).

It also doesn't mean that religious groups can't speak out on the burning issues of the day. They do that all of the time, sparking debate and discussion among the population.

It does mean this: There are limits to what religious groups can expect from the political system. No faith tradition or alliance of denominations can expect the government to adopt its theology and make it the law of the land for all to follow.

The leading opponents of marriage equality eagerly point to the Bible, papal edicts and other religious sources when addressing the faithful. Those sectarian appeals won't fly in court, and in legal forums these groups have struggled to articulate an argument against marriage equality that isn't based on theology. …

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