The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 10, 2013

Divorce civil from religious

Recently, there have been several letters back and forth about whether same-sex couples can/should be allowed to get legally married in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which frequently cite a biblical passages from the Book of Leviticus, or make a proclamation about “God’s Law.”

Proponents of “marriage equality” state that marriage is a civil right and list all the benefits that heterosexual couples get from being married, such as inheritance rights, estate tax benefits (the basis for overturning DOMA). I agree that, as part of the “pursuit of happiness” right stated in the Declaration of Independence, marriage is a right everyone should have. This country is governed by the Constitution, and no mention is made in it of “God’s Law.”

The benefits of marriage that homosexual couples want are all civil, and automatically granted to heterosexual couples who are granted religious marriages by members of the clergy. Why not, as it were, “divorce” the civil from the religious, and make everyone, gay or straight, obtain civil union licenses that grant them all the benefits gay people want, and leave the clergy out of that process entirely?

Then, as a completely separate process, couples could have religious ceremonies, and those clergy who object to the idea of a homosexual couple getting “married” are perfectly free (which they would be no matter what the law) to turn such couples away. If clergy act as agents of the state in completing marriage licenses, but cannot also do so for divorce, why involve them in the civil process at all?

Peter Whitcopf,


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