Legal recognition of marriage would become a purely civil matter. A couple who wanted to marry would have to get a license and go to a civil magistrate. If they then wanted their union sacramentalized, they would go to the Church. If the Church refused to marry them because they did not meet its criteria for a sacramental wedding—if both parties were of the same sex, for example—the state could do nothing about it, since the Church is a voluntary association protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.
Fans of this blog know that I have advocated the complete abolition of civil marriage for a long time. I would urge you to read this and the comments carefully. He includes a quote from the American Spectator’s Emmett Tyrell calling for the privatisation of marriage.
I’ve talked about this for a long time, but I’ll reiterate the following:
- As long as our ministers are agents of the state in civil marriage, they will be subject to anti-discrimination attacks. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s the way our law has gone (and it doesn’t make sense either.) Ending their role as agents of the state isn’t a complete bar for legal attack, but it would put things well down the road.
- Doing the “two marriage” (civil and religious) deal, as is done in France, Germany, Russia and many other places, isn’t a complete guarantee that ministers would be free from attack either. Many jurisdictions prohibit religious agents from sacramentalising marriage before its civil recognition, as Belgian King Leopold and Lillian Baels found out the hard way during World War II.
The only way to really solve this dilemma is to abolish civil marriage altogether. Civil unions won’t cut it. It’s that simple. If the LGBT community won’t be the progressive group they claim to be on this, we should.