When I first read that Alabama was considering getting rid of their marriage license process, I was elated.
As a conservative Christian who believes that traditional marriage is the only moral, God honoring form of marriage, I have long been concerned about the interference of the state in our unions. As the marriage debate began unfolding over the last few years, I wrote that conservatives were missing the forest for the trees in the gay marriage debate.
When Proposition 8 passed, the nation was astonished. California is a liberal bastion and yet the people of California voted to uphold “traditional” marriage. The vote was heralded by social conservatives the nation over, but it opened the door for what could ultimately become something much more dangerous than the downfall of “traditional” marriage, the destruction of religious freedom.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality it will open the door to a new age of litigation against “traditional marriage” supporters, as homosexual couples engage the community for marriage issues. Churches, Pastors, wedding planners, wedding service providers – all would be open to lawsuit for refusing (hopefully politely) to serve customers for same sex weddings. I’m not overstating this.
It’s time to get the government out of marriage – we shouldn’t be fighting with the government to define what marriage is (the definition of this supernatural union was written by God thousands of years ago). We should be fighting to tell the government they have NO SAY in defining what marriage is. When it comes to gay marriage, my friends, we must see the forest and ignore the trees.
I wrote these words more than two years ago, and sadly I believe that I have been proven right. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the traditional marriage activists who sued to have Proposition 8 reinstated did not have the standing to do so, our nation has hurtled leftward in the marriage debate. A handful of Christian business owners across more than half a dozen states have been sued for refusing to serve at gay weddings, and even now the Supreme Court is preparing to decide whether or not gay marriage should be forced upon every state in the union.
Which brings me back to Alabama and what I have been arguing for some time now – the government has no place in our marriage covenants, and we should force them out immediately. The state of Alabama seems on the cusp of ending state issued marriage licenses, which is great, but they may simply be replacing them with marriage “contracts.”
Attorney Jake Watson explains, “[SB377] does away with that and requires parties to enter into a contract and file it at the courthouse, as I understand it.”
This alters the fundamental way we’ve approached marriage for a long time.
Watson continues, “It really does away with the traditional sense of a marriage certificate and what we’ve been dealing with in Alabama as far as marriage certificates for more than a hundred years, I believe.”
The bill itself disposes of marriage certificates and replaces them with a contract that you file with the probate judge.
These contracts are still filed with local officials through the purview of the state – meaning that Alabama is really only playing a game of semantics.
Presumably, by taking the State out of the business of issuing marriage “licenses,” marriage would just become another private contractual undertaking, and any Supreme Court ruling that, under the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses, States must issue marriage “licenses” to same-sex couples would not bind the State of Alabama, which would no longer be in the marriage license business, as a technical, formal matter.
But this seems a bit silly, since SB 377 says, “Effective July 1, 2015, the only requirement to be married in this state shall be for parties who are otherwise legally authorized to be married to enter into a contract of marriage as provided herein.” It then lists the required form of the contract. But the key question is who is “legally authorized to be married”? Presumably, the State of Alabama would continue to specify this (and has, pursuant to a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man, one woman). And also presumably, the Alabama Senate did not intend to authorize contractual marriage among multiple persons (polygamy) or among closely related individuals (incest).
I would guess that if “contracts” are the route taken by the state of Alabama, then it will simply open the door for a new round of legal wrangling, and before it is all said and done, Alabama will be forced to issue “contracts” to homosexual couples.
Which is why I still believe the only way to fix our gay marriage problem – the real problem, the one dealing with our religious liberties – is to wholly divorce the state from the marriage issue. Yes, it introduces other difficulties, like dealing with the aftermath of a failed marriage, especially when children are involved. But it solves the larger issue of worrying about whether or not the state will be able to force Christians to participate in (and de facto endorse) homosexual unions. For too long we’ve sought protection of our morality from the state. It’s time to realize that the state may very well be our morality and our worldview’s worst enemy.
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