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updated: 3/27/2013 1:54 PM

A civil solution to gay marriage

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In the controversy over gay marriage, both sides in the debate want to use the force of government to impose their moral point of view. What we need to do is get the government out of the marriage business. By all accounts, organized religion and the institution of marriage preceded the federal and state governments.

In religion marriage is called either the holy sacrament of marriage or a holy covenant. It has had a clear definition which historically happens to be the union of one man and one woman, theoretically for life. Here's a simple yet civil proposal: Enforce the separation of church and state.

• Let religious institutions perform marriages and allow them to define marriage according to their religious beliefs.

• Allow state governments to perform civil unions and define civil unions as their cultures, laws or voters dictate.

Seems pretty straightforward. Since marriage was invented and defined by religious institutions, it should remain their domain without interference by the government. If government offers marriage services, is it offering to provide a holy sacrament or covenant? Is a civil marriage a civil sacrament? Obviously not, since if they are offering a sacrament they are practicing religion which would violate the prohibition of establishing a state religion. If they aren't offering a sacrament they are offering a contract, a civil contract, call it a civil union. The government by offering "marriage" interjects itself into religion by co-opting a religious sacrament and puts itself in direct conflict with established religions.

Government, as we all agree, is not supposed to be in the religion business but has every right to regulate civil contracts between two people. So, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's (civil contracts) and render unto God the things which are God's (marriage)."

Richard Gylling


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