Dad vs. Dorothy.

The following exchange took place on a facebook thread between dad and Dorothy, whose name has been changed for the purposes of this post.  Dorothy opened with:

Oops [NAME OF OP OMITTED]. Our Constitution says nothing of freedom FROM religion, only OF. The whole idea of FROM is simply that the government should not impose any type of religion on anyone. Freedom from religion is not a demand that someone’s religious beliefs not be expressed. The origins of marriage are biblical. I think we took a wrong turn when government decided to stick it’s nose into marriage in the first place.

Dad came swinging in with:

Oops [NAME OF OP OMITTED]. Our Constitution says nothing of freedom FROM religion, only OF. “

Oops yourself, Dorothy. Can you provide a quote of that from the text, please? I don’t believe the Constitution says either FROM or OF. Here is the text of the first amendment: Amendment I

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.

You are correct with “Freedom from religion is not a demand that someone’s religious beliefs not be expressed.” In addition, freedom from religion, as with freedom of religion, means that no one is required by the government to have religious beliefs.

Additionally, I agree 100% with “I think we took a wrong turn when government decided to stick it’s nose into marriage in the first place.” However, it did, so any governmental benefits acquired by marriage have to be available to all citizens equally.

Dorothy retorted with:

Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not, ie civil unions. I agree that many cultures have different ceremonies. Within the Christian faith, though, marriage is considered a sacred union, therefore a religious, God-sanctioned union. See Genesis 2:24. I’m not here to debate whether gay marriage is right or wrong. My point is simply that a minister of the Christian faith should not be forced, by government, to perform a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs. And before you start bashing me and calling me a hater, I have never been against same sex couples enjoying the same benefits that the government has bestowed on married couples. I just think the government is overstepping when its law forces someone to do something that is against their beliefs.

Dad was having none of it:

“My point is simply that a minister of the Christian faith should not be forced, by government, to perform a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs.” Christian ministers have not been and are not being asked to perform “a ceremony of any kind that goes against his or her biblical principals and beliefs.” All we are asking is that gays be allowed CIVIL MARRIAGE……marriage recognized by the state. Your religion has the right to recognize them or not. You can keep them out of your church. Ceremonies, if any, to be conducted ONLY by those who want to conduct them and are sanctioned by the state to do so. You say ” I just think the government is overstepping when its law forces someone to do something that is against their beliefs”,which I agree with, BUT, that hasn’t happened and isn’t happening in regard to gay marriage.

“Marriage can be a religious ceremony or not, ie civil unions.” Well, yes, if “civil unions” includes civil marriage…which is exactly what the gays want. That is also what heterosexuals already get. Equal treatment under the law: no more, and no less. You know, the old “All men are created equal” bit.

Dorothy came back with:

You stated exactly what the problem with this issue is. You state that gays want civil marriage, marriage that is recognized by the state. There is no reason why the.state couldn’t recognize civil unions, offering the same rights to gay couples as married couples. If the issue is simply civil rights, then the argument would be centered around civil unions, not gay marriage. What is being pushed is the redefinition of ‘marriage’, which definition, until now, has been based on biblical principals. That is what the problem is from a Christian’s perspective — not a person’s (gay or straight) equal rights, of which most Christians I know are not opposed to. There is no reason why civil “unions” cannot be recognized, while at the same time upholding the sanctity of marriage. As for your statement that Christian ministers are not being asked to perform a ceremony which goes against their beliefs, tell that to the first one who gets a lawsuit slapped against them for refusing to marry a couple because they are gay. If you redefine “marriage”, THAT is exactly what will happen, and by law, the minister will be forced to comply.

Father wound up and unloaded this:

Dorothy, no disrespect intended,but so much of this is just plain out-and-out wrong.

“There is no reason why the.state couldn’t recognize civil unions, offering the same rights to gay couples as married couples.” Actually, they would have to change the 1138 laws and regulations on the federal level to do that and the average of 300 per state, and that plain isn’t happening in the real world. It hasn’t, and there is absolutely no indication that it will.

Let me provide just a couple of examples for you: Social Security survivor benefits require MARRIAGE, not civil union. Inheriting your spouse’s estate tax free requires MARRIAGE, not civil union (see last week’s Supreme Court decision). Married couples filing jointly may exclude up to $500,000 on the sale of their home. Lesbian and gay couples, who are not permitted to marry or to file jointly, are therefore taxed on all gain above $250,000, creating a large tax penalty compared to similarly situated married couples. Approximately 75% of the one million green cards or immigrant visas issued each year are granted to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. However, those excluded from the definition, under current immigration law of family, are not eligible to immigrate as family. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees family and medical leave to employees to care for parents, children or spouses. As currently interpreted, this law does not provide leave to care for a domestic partner or the domestic partner’s family member.

And so on and on and on. So, although the state technically COULD give civil unions the same rights as marriages, the simple fact is that they DON’T, and all indications that they won’t.

Additionally, deep down inside we all know very well that the doctrine of “separate but equal” really is only separate but not equal, don’t we?

“What is being pushed is the redefinition of ‘marriage’, which definition, until now, has been based on biblical principals.” This is simply not true and shows only a willingness to cherry pick the parts of the Bible that appeal to you like going through the buffet at the Golden Corral; selecting what you like and ignoring the rest. How about Biblical polygamy, a practice that was embraced by prominent biblical figures such as Abraham and David? Furthermore, various Bible passages mention not only traditional monogamy, but also self-induced castration and celibacy, as well as the practice of wedding rape victims to their rapists. The simple fact is that the modern notion of love had nothing to do with biblical marriage which was an arranged contract to protect inheritance and bloodlines. Women were chattel. Simply, the definition of marriage got changed ever since you were unable to sell your daughter for two goats and a cow. Here is a short article reflecting this by some religious scholars on the subject: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html
Here is another from a Baptist press: http://www.abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/8209-%E2%80%98biblical%E2%80%99-marriage-unmasked#.UdbcgG3CYbw

AS to “There is no reason why civil “unions” cannot be recognized, while at the same time upholding the sanctity of marriage.” Due to the Constitutional separation of church and state, “sanctity” doesn’t have a single thing to do with civil marriage. None. Nada. Zero. Zip.

“If you redefine “marriage”, THAT is exactly what will happen, and by law, the minister will be forced to comply.
Bullocks. No Catholic priest is ever forced to marry divorced people, and no minister will ever be forced to grant civil ceremonies to gays. This is empty fear mongering with no basis whatsoever in fact. You have absolutely no evidence for this claim because their is no evidence. We have no reason to base laws in the real world on your fears or to be intimidated by outrageous non-reality based claims. If you have any evidence whatsoever to support this claim, trot it out.

This is what happens when you rely on your pastor for legal and political facts.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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