When Mississippi– Equal Marriage Rights?

Today, the California Supreme Court ruled in a decision 4 to 3 that California’s same sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.  They wrote: “As past cases establish, the substantive right of two adults who share a loving relationship to join together to establish an officially recognized family of their own – and, if the couple chooses, to raise children within that family – constitutes a vitally important attribute of the fundamental interest in liberty and personal autonomy that the California Constitution secures to all persons for the benefit of both the individual and society.”   (The full summary of the ruling can be found here. All quotes in this blog are from this summary. The complete Supreme Court Opinion is found here.)

A rose by any other name–NOT:  Domestic partnership is not the same as marriage. 

“One of the core elements of the right to establish an officially recognized family that is embodied in the California constitutional right to marry is a couple’s right to have their family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that accorded other officially recognized families, and assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same-sex couples while reserving the historic designation of “marriage” exclusively for opposite-sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same-sex couples such equal dignity and respect. We therefore conclude that although the provisions of the current domestic partnership legislation afford same-sex couples most of the substantive elements embodied in the constitutional right to marry, the current California statutes nonetheless must be viewed as potentially impinging upon a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to marry under the California Constitution.”

The institution of marriage is not undermined by same sex marriage.

“A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, [bold italics mine]  the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples. Second, retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples. Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise – now emphatically rejected by this state – that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.”

Unitarian Universalists across this country will perform religious ceremonies celebrating the marriage of same sex couples even though the state will not recognize its civil legality.  Yet, heterosexual religious marriages, even those performed by Unitarian Universalists, are recognized for its civil legality.  I believe to not have these religious ceremonies recognized by the civil government is a violation of our religious freedoms. To deny recognition is a restriction and impingement of our religious principles that seeks compassion, justice, and equity in all human relations.  It amounts to an unequal religious authority to the majority in a country that claims separation of church and state. 

Mississippi equal marriage rights are coming to this state just as inter-racial marriage rights came to this state.  It is no nolonger a matter of if, it is only a matter of when.  May justice and equality be truly for all in this land.  Blessings, Rev. Fred L Hammond

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One Comment

  1. Another perspective: http://somefreethoughts.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/should-opposite-sex-marriage-be-legal/


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