Sunday, June 06, 2004

Freedom means freedom

This is a reworking of an email I perhaps unwisely sent to the entire staff and faculty at my university, in response to a staff member's email against homosexual marriage. In my response I brought up a point that I have not seen given play in the media or blogosphere, though I certainly have not searched extensively for it.

If the government at any level passes laws forbidding certain people from marrying, but their religion does allow them to marry, is this not an instance of violating their freedom to practice the religion of their choice? Various Episcopal churches allow same sex blessings, the United Universalist church allows same sex marriage, and the two governing bodies of Reform Judaism allow same sex marriage. I can imagine Wiccans or neo-Pagans jumping on the bandwagon very easily. If a homosexual couple who belong to the UU church want to get married, the federal government currently prevents them from practicing all aspects of their religion.

Perhaps the fear is that this argument leads to discussions about polygamy and the Mormon church. If that is the case, perhaps it is something that does need to be discussed, weighing the need for freedom with the need to prevent abuse or neglect (the usual reasons for outlawing polygamy, whether reasonable or not).

What sticks in my craw is the Republican party complaining about their freedom to practice religion being violated, and in the same breath planning to violate the religious practices of others. From the Texas GOP platform:
A plank in a section titled "Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety" proclaims the United States a "Christian nation."
"The party affirms freedom of religion and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives," says a passage added this year.
The rewritten "Celebrating Traditional Marriage" section now calls for legislation making it a felony for anyone to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple or for a "civil official" to perform a wedding ceremony for such couples.

Apparently freedom of religion only applies to conservative christian religions, not that liberal wacko stuff.

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