State sponsored marriage

So the Californian Supreme Court overturned the state’s marriage ban. A ban that was voted for by 60% of voters in that state. It’s sure to be a popular decision. Especially with the talk radio set.

So why do I think this is a bad thing? Because it’s still legislating marriage. Marriage is inherently a religious institution. If you look at the number of different ways marriage is instituted around the world it quickly becomes obvious that the United States doesn’t just have a legal framework for marriage. It has a legal framework for a generalized Christian marriage. Then it heaps a ton of laws on top of this religious event.

I feel a lot of sympathy for the religious right on this one, because they are having their religion dictated to them. Their vision of marriage has been turned into a legal right that can be modified and changed with prevailing societal norms. We’re so used to marriage being part of the state that it doesn’t seem odd anymore. But what if communion was state sponsored? Or confession? This is the key reason that the framers of the constitution wanted a separation of church and state.

A democratic religious state would still be much freer than a complete theocracy. Look at Iran. There’s still an large amount of dissent in a country that we think of as pretty theocratic. But that’s at least partially because once a government becomes theocratic it begins watering down the religious aspects for practical concerns. After all, it’s goal is to build roads and provide electricity, and if it needs to interpret a few religious laws in new ways to do so, it’s probably going to.

Look at the LDS Church. They had polygamy as necessary to get into heaven. But even though they were a predominantly Mormon territory they denounced that part of their religion to become a member of the United States. This is what happens when politics mixes with religion. The religion always loses.

Let’s throw marriage out of the government. Civil unions for everyone. Even civil unions for polygamists. It would simplify our legal system immensly. And then you could get married in a church in whatever way you want. And no one could say a thing about it. And if your church wanted to ban gay marriages because your god hates gays, that’s your complete right. And that right wouldn’t interefe with life insurance benefits or alimony payments.

What do you think? Do you think the state should be in the marriage business?