Original Format: Yahoo Voices/Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | Price, Utah In Albany, NY, Senate Republicans in NY have met with Gov. Cuomo again this week to voice their concerns that the Governor's bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state doesn't go far enough to protect individual churches or clergypersons from being forced to perform union they find outside the scope of their religious acceptance, according to theAssociated Press via GLBT news organization, 365gay.com.I have one thing to say to these Republicans who are using an inverted argument to stall proceedings that will lead to the passing of a same-sex marriage law in New York. Originally, NY Republicans (as many of their counterparts around the country) wanted no part of any law concerning same-sex marriage other than an outright ban on the same. So long as the law reads that marriage is "protected" and can be organized between one man and one woman, in accordance with their god, they are fine with it.
The fight in NY has led them down another path, however, as it appears more and more likely that NY will legalize same-sex marriage this year. Now the Republicans have to stall the passing of the bill into law by whatever means necessary. In this case, because they are concerned that members of clergy for non-gay-friendly churches will be forced to perform the ceremonies simply because the state says they are legal marriages.
Let's take a look at a few facts, shall we? I'll be using examples from the Roman Catholic Church as this is the religious organization with which I have the most personal experience, but the arguments made can be translated across many Judeo-Christian sects.
Marriage is ordained by god to be a union of a man and woman
Okay. This is one definition of marriage. There is another definition of marriage, however, which all people who take part in a religious marriage are well aware of. When Joe and Molly Catholic want to get married in the church, they head to the courthouse and buy a license. If they are found worthy by their parish priest, and they are in good standing and up on their requirements to be good Catholics, the priest will agree to marry them.
After Father Priest marries them in accordance with the Sacrament of Marriage/Matrimony, he (not she, women can't be priests in the Catholic church) filed a signed and authorized Certificate of Marriage with the county clerk.
If these two lovebirds decide they don't want to be married anymore, they seek a divorce. From a judge. Not a priest. The Judge terminates the legal union between the two parties, and if they want to remarry in the church, Fr. Priest must file forms with the Vatican to dissolve god's union. This is no easy task, but neither does it have anything to do with the legal marriage that has already been dissolved.
Gov. Cuomo's law has everything to do with this legal marriage, and nothing whatsoever to do with the religious union or definition of marriage.
The argument that the Catholic priest would somehow be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for gay Catholics is completely ridiculous. A clergyman doesn't have to marry anyone they don't believe deserves the right, or the rite. If two straight people show up and ask a member of the clergy to marry them, and the clergyman knows that they spent the last three months living in sin and not attending church, the clergyman does not have to marry them. So it is with same-sex couples. If the clergyman doesn't believe the couple are living in accordance with their gods laws, he or she simply does not have to perform the ceremony.
Except when --
Here's where I get a little prickly when it comes to honoring the opinions and rights of churches to maintain their aloof superiority complex.
If the church is going to fight against my right to marry the woman I love by pouring millions of dollars into misleading ad campaigns and "rock the vote" messages based upon lies and fear, and they lose? Yeah, they should have to perform marriages for anyone and everyone, or they (as individual clergy) should be forced to stop performing marriages at all. I'm not saying they have to perform same-sex marriage. They have the option of retiring quietly to a part of the church that doesn't actually perform this sacrament.
My basis for this more legal and spiritual. In my opinion, when they put so much pressure on an issue, they are no longer a religious organization. They are a political action committee and therefore they must abide by the law of the law, not the law of their god.
If they want to keep the right to be a non-secular, completely religious organization, complete with the right to not perform same-sex marriages, they should put their money where their mouth is. Rather than what they tend to do, which is put their money where the votes are.
The simple fact is --
I am not Catholic. I am not even Christian. I am also a lesbian woman who can't marry in Utah. This issue is of extreme importance to me on several levels. Yet, I will defend a clergyman's right to not perform a wedding ceremony for anyone they deem not in accordance with their god's laws to the death.
According to their Bible (Mark 12:17), they have the moral obligation to defend my right to the same civil liberties and rights as anyone else in the country where my taxes support their right to believe as they see fit.