Monday, February 01, 2010

California Gets it Right

I've often argued that the biggest problem with getting same-sex marriage legalized is the issue of religious freedom. The state has no business forcing churches to solemnize or recognize marriages that violate the tenants of their faith. I've argued that legal and religious marriage should be completely separate, that religious marriage should have no legal standing and that civil marriage should require no recognition in church, as it is in France (my cousin got married twice on the same day, first by the Bishop and then by the mayor, when he married his lovely French bride).

Proposed legislation in California would go a different but equally sane route. It would specifically allow priests to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony on religious grounds and would guarantee that the tax exempt status of churches would not be affected by not recognizing same-sex marriage. The theory behind the California law is that there are two types of marriage that are usually combined, civil and religious. The marriage license, which makes a marriage legal, is a civil document, no matter who performs the ceremony and signs it.

A lot of church groups, including many of those who supported Proposition 8, which made gay marriage illegal in California, support the new legislation. It could go a long way toward solving the problem. In normally politically insane California they are actually getting something right!


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