Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

31 October 2008

Gay Marriage Should Be Recognized by Law

By Diana Hsieh

The Ayn Rand Institute just published a good press release on California's Proposition 8, arguing that it should be opposed on the ground of the separation of church and state:

Church and State: A Marriage Not Made in Heaven
October 31, 2008

Washington, D.C.--Californians will soon have the chance to vote on Proposition 8, which would define marriage in the state constitution as being only between a man and a woman, denying marriage to same-sex couples. The proposition is heavily supported by the religious community. Said one religious leader who supports the measure, "We believe it is a religious issue as well as a political issue. That's where we feel the Church must have a word."

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, "Regardless of how one thinks 'marriage' should be defined, there's a much graver issue at stake: this is a flagrant attempt to inject religion into politics.

"As our Founders understood, religion is properly a private matter--not a legitimate basis for government action. The government's only role is to protect our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Under our secular political system, individuals are free to hold any religious views they wish, but they cannot impose their views on the rest of us. That is the meaning of freedom of religion.

"Once we accept the view that the 'Church must have a word' in the political sphere, we are accepting a principle completely opposed to freedom. If gay marriage can be barred because, as one supporter of Prop. 8 put it, 'I don't think God has ordained it,' then why, for instance, can't speech that similarly offends religionists also be banned? Indeed, this is the very principle that motivates the religious right's crusade against broadcast 'indecency'--and the brutal principle that recently led the Afghani government to sentence a journalism student to 20 years in prison for blasphemy.

"The separation of church and state is a cornerstone of liberty. It protects our right to live by our own judgment, free from the dictates of ministers and mullahs. To protect that right, we should oppose any attempt to bring religion into politics."
I wholeheartedly support gay marriage. Why? As I explained in this NoodleFood post:
The essence of marriage is the total integration of two lives: sexually, legally, socially, financially, geographically, sexually, morally, etc. The fact that most marriages involve two people with contrasting genitalia is not of any grand significance.
My husband's and my relationship is likely to be far more similar to that of a loving gay couple also living by the philosophy of Objectivism than to many common types of straight marriages. My marriage does not much resemble that of a couple voluntarily celibate to better worship God, that of a couple together only due to fear of being alone, that of a couple prone to violent arguments, or that of a couple prone to cheating, for example. Such people can marry -- and they ought to be able to do so. And if such a diversity of relationships counts as marriage, then surely a loving, stable gay couple should be able to marry too.

In short, I see no rational basis whatsoever to limit marriage to just straight couples. In fact, I'm quite certain that gay marriages would be recognized in every state in the union were it not for the faith-driven (and often frighteningly hateful) hostility of fundamentalist Christians to homosexuality.

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