The ruling overturning Proposition 8 -- the ban on gay marriage in California -- is a fascinating document. If you have 20 minutes (to read the ruling) you will find Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's portrait of 21st century marriage will, depending on where you start, cheer or horrify you.
But since F&R focuses on religion, I'll zero in on the relevant quotes in Walker's ruling that address the interests of religious institutions, clergy and believers. You could summarize it pretty quickly, Walker seems to be saying, "'Believers, it's not about you."
The ruling says:
Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.
Walker also writes,
Proposition 8 does not affect the First Amendment rights of those opposed to marriage for same-sex couples. Prior to Proposition 8, no religious group was required to recognize marriage for same-sex couples.
He cites the California constitution that...
[A]ffording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.
Walker examines about how several major religious groups -- Catholics, Mormons, conservative evangelicals such as the South Baptist Convention, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod -- condemn either homosexual identity or behavior or both, citing documents from the Vatican to denominational resolutions.
But he spells out in all capital letters in the decision:
A PRIVATE MORAL VIEW THAT SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE INFERIOR TO OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES IS NOT A PROPER BASIS FOR LEGISLATION...
California's obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to "mandate [its] own moral code."
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Judge rules on California's Proposition 8
Excellent post by Cathy Lynn Grossman (USA Today) on the Proposition 8 ruling from the religious perspective: