When problems arise on the U.S. front, we often turn to our government leaders and members of Congress for answers. The debate over marriage equality has been long and hard and meaningful. It’s true. Everyone should be able to enjoy the special union that is marriage, regardless of one’s sexual orientation. However, the lengths that states are taking to ban same-sex marriage sends a sad message to how American society receives, or doesn’t receive, the gay and lesbian community. It’s a message that seems to lock itself into a global consensus, as the rally for equal rights in the homosexual community is severely challenged overseas. More importantly, it raises the question of whether or not governments should be mingling in the personal affairs of marriage at all. After all, marriage is a convention spawned by religious institutions. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?
Churches and other religious entities should be fighting this major tug of war, not Congress. And it’s hard. For many religions do not agree with the idea of same-sex marriage or even being a gay, lesbian, or queer individual. However, we must remember that the convention that is marriage is a religiously constructed one. Marriage in its holy rite is known as “matrimony”, a union made between a man and a woman. What has turned into a national debate is religious institutions’ inability or lack of desire to cope with the issue seriously. The most common religions in America share hundreds of years of history and regulations that prohibit homosexuality; this thrusts legal marriage under the national microscope, making it everyone else’s problem but the Churches. Gays and lesbians should not only have their quest for equality rung out just over the state-created institution of civil marriage; it’s a start, but more needs to be done to help Churches realize that if we are going to equalize marriage, then it needs to be the same on both sides — in the Church and outside of it.
In a recent interview with ABC, President Barack Obama openly stated that he supported same-sex marriage. Leery in the eyes of some as a swift political move to prove to the American public that Obama’s second term goals would focus on the progressiveness of domestic policy, Obama’s position does make an interesting point. This fight between states over who can and can’t get married is soundly ridiculous and will forever be plagued by the dark prejudice that exists within southern and conservative political histories. There should be a federal consensus on what is constitutionally right; our domain as Americans lies within the solid lines of equality so there should be no need to jig-jog the debate of what people can or can’t do. What is more conflicting is the white line that created the separation of Church and state has become extremely blurred when it comes to marriage equality, almost non-existent in the conversation. Churches are imparting their own thoughts into the political system; policy is attempting to regulate religious practices. Who should we listen to? Whose word do we ride or die for?
Most certainly, the American people’s. Our ability to vote on this issue has galvanized a caustic discussion that is dividing the nation and clouding the truth. It is time that more religious institutions take responsibility for what is happening in the marriage equality debate and stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians as well. People are meant to be married in churches, so why restrict them from that? Would it not be just as unfair for the LGBTQ community to gain the rights to same-sex marriage, but then only be allowed to legalize and celebrate their unions through dusty courtrooms across the nations. Sounds a bit “separate but equal”. That ideology is so pre-1954.
If the very spaces in which marriage is supposed to happen has become so closed to the idea of discussing the political matter, then what good is it for state governments to use the religious definition of marriage to defend the stance of heterosexual unions? It is very clear that now is not the time for the Church to sit back and watch. It is clear that political leaders are not simply tip-toeing on the line that separates Church and state. They are dirty dancing all up in it. Whose going to save the sanctuary of marriage for the American people? Whose going to help prove to the world that love should not be political, that it’s for two people, regardless of gender? Who better to preach about love and equality then the very institution that believes in loving and embracing all despite their differences? The Church.
Should there be over-bounding sweep and support from the U.S. government for equality? Yes. Should gays and lesbians be granted equal rights? Yes. Should gays and lesbians be afforded more than a civil union? Absolutely. It’s already written into our Constitution, this message of equal protection for all individual so there is no need to re-write the law books. Instead, Churches need to roll back their sleeves and get active in this discussion. There should be a revolutionizing campaign spearheaded by religious institutions that will help people across the nation understand the equality that is embedded deep within the uniting principle of love and marriage.