There are two sides on this contentious issue: those who are for it and those who are against it. But before getting into some of the particulars, one question needs to be asked, namely, “Is marriage a duty established as by social custom, history and tradition or is it instead, divinely ordained and ONLY approved or accepted before God as between a man and woman”? If the Judeo-Christian Scripture is the authority for this institution which some contend supercedes any civil legislation, how can this be reconciled if we live in a Representative Democracy separated between Church and State?” The Bible does not seek to change, incorporate or regulate the civil laws but rather is the rule or standard for those who belong to the community of faith and are citizens of the Kingdom of God [Heaven].
It is indeed puzzling why there is such outrage and furor among believers over this single issue because no church can be forced through passage of legislation to abandon their faith practice to accommodate adoption of this law, nor to do anything in violation of their conscience. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the Right to the free exercise of Religion and no Law enacted by a state legislature, or mandated by an act of Congress as well as the Supreme Court, can legally force any religious denomination to accept Gay Marriage as a lifestyle. Practically speaking, this means Christian clergy cannot be sued for refusing to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple as well as for not hosting a reception for the couple if they were married at a courthouse or somewhere else.
On the other side of the issue, which is a valid legal concern, is the discrimination and unequal treatment in denying a marriage contract to same sex couples as well as the State’s interest in the matter. There was a same-sex couple in 2004 who sued in Superior Court, which challenged Washington State’s Civil Marriage Law, amended in 1998, as discriminatory because the statute ONLY recognizes marriage as “valid” between a man and a woman. The Plaintiffs contended that the law unfairly makes a distinction arbitrarily based ‘solely’ upon gender by denying privileges under the law that are not being made equally available to all citizens, whch is in violation of the Washington State Constitution (Art. 1, sects. 3 & 12) and Washington's Equal Rights Amendment, denying them the right of due process to liberty and privacy.
The first issue under review is if denyng marrage to same-sex partners burdens a ‘fundamental’ right of a suspect class, and secondly, [whether the goal or purpose being sought is deemed a "compelling state interest]." Since marriage is a contract with the state [civil authority], subject to the conditions and requirements of such a governing body imposes on its citizens, it would seem reasonable that the state would want to ensure that all citizens under its jurisdiction are treated the same. Even former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated that, "the moral views of the majority [in a pluralistic society] can never provide the “sole” basis for legislation and that moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest, is insufficient rationale . . . to justify a law that discriminates among groups of persons. Also, a Massachusetts Supreme Court noted, "It is circular reasoning, not analysis, to maintain that marriage must remain a heterosexual institution because that is what it has been historically. Be that as it may, Article IV Section 2 and Amendment XIV (part b) of The U.S. Constitution guarantees that all citizens of the United States and in each state respectively are to enjoy all the privileges and immunities as well as equal protection under the law.
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January 23, 2012
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