Today marks the beginning of the second annual Blog Against Theocracy. This is my first time participating, as I was just taking little baby blogger steps back in July 2007 when the first round took off. But today, I’m happy to be a part of this important discussion.
First off, let me state for the record that I view myself as a religious and a spiritual person. Within my family I have a long religious tradition, including my grandparents’ missionary work. My religious beliefs are a very important part of who I am. (And yes, I did just shamelessly promote my mother’s book, again, with that link — sales are a little slow, what can I say.)
However, my religious beliefs may very well be different from your religious beliefs. Or, you may not believe in organized religion at all. And according to the Constitution of the United States of America, that’s o.k.! In fact, the Framers believed in it so strongly that in 1791 they amended the Constitution to ensure clarity of this most basic right. Indeed, it became the First Amendment of what is known as the Bill of Rights:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Being in the majority of Americans who follow the Christian faith, I must admit that I am rarely confronted with faith-based discrimination. Until I want to marry my partner. Then suddenly it’s wrong, for no other reason than someone says “because the Bible tells me so.” So, even though my particular church accepts same sex commitments, the majority’s religious beliefs trumps mine?
In other words, I can’t marry my partner because of established religious beliefs, even though the Constitution clearly states that there shall be “no law respecting an establishment of religion”?
My head hurts.
In Maryland, legislation is being introduced which is called the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Act. The bill states:
(A) Only a marriage between TWO PEOPLE, NOT OTHERWISE PROHIBITED FROM MARRYING, is valid in this State.
(B) THIS SECTION MAY NOT BE CONSTRUED TO INVALIDATE OTHER SECTIONS IN THIS TITLE
SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, THAT NO OFFICIAL OF A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION OR BODY AUTHORIZED TO SOLEMNIZE MARRIAGES SHALL BE REQUIRED TO SOLEMNIZE ANY MARRIAGE IN VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION GUARANTEED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND BY THE MARYLAND CONSTITUTION AND MARYLAND DECLARATION OF RIGHTS.
In other words, if it’s against your religion, don’t do it. Kinda like when comedian Wanda Sykes says, “If you’re against same sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex.”