Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The legality of gay marriage

   Since West Virginia legalized gay marriage, all anyone has seen on their social media are a lot of heated debates.  The polarized battle of “Equal Rights” against “Religious Belief” has so consumed people that respect commonly gets thrown out the window.  Many people do not even know what their opinion is and decide to scroll through their feed as innocent bystanders.  Whatever your opinion, context is necessary to understand the legality of this hot topic.
   Marriage is a legal institution, meaning that it does not have to be recognized by a religion to receive benefits from the government.  For example, atheists and agnostics get married and do not commonly have a religious ceremony.  In the Constitution, it states that the United States separates church and state.  This means that the government cannot be involved in religious matters.  Therefore, under the premise of the separation of church and state clause, gay marriage is constitutional, legal, and necessary.  Still have questions?  Read along for explanations.
   Along with the separation of church and state, the Constitution also has the clause of full faith and credit.  This means that every state must respect all laws of another state.  For example, if two men/women get married in the state of New York, the state of Minnesota must recognize that marriage license.  Even if West Virginia did not decide to legalize gay marriage, the state would have to recognize every marriage license of every gay couple that moves here.
   Legalizing gay marriage also contributes to equal rights.  Gay couples are not asking for any special rights or treatment; they are not an interest group.  All they have wanted is to be able to be married.  If they are citizens of the United States, they do have the right to be married.  It is unconstitutional for the government to deny the basic right of marriage to a person based on their gender.
   All of this being said, if the couple were to seek out a religious ceremony, a preacher could choose to not do the ceremony.  If the preacher were to do this though, there is a possibility that they could be accused of discrimination.  In a way it is, but if they have a spiritual dilemma, then the preacher’s decision should be respected.  Many preachers are turning in their marriage license, due to the possibility of being accused of discrimination.  It should not be that way though, and the religious sector should have their views protected as well.  This issue though has not been discussed in the media yet, and will most likely not be dealt with till a court case, or controversy happens.  Going along with this possible issue, the government does not govern religions, allowing the churches to make their own decisions.
   Respect is the biggest issue of gay marriage though.  Everyone has a right to have an opinion, but everyone should be polite to each other.  Freedom of speech (First Amendment) gives one the right to openly express their opinion, but one should also be aware to express it in a way that will not come off as offensive.  One should also accept that others have the right to respond.
   The lesson to be learned though, is that gay marriage is not unconstitutional.  It is completely legal as it should be.  Marriage is something that should be allowed to everybody.  Gay marriage is not a slippery slope to the end of the world.  The other lesson to be learned is that is ok to religiously disagree with it.  Having conflicting views is ok, but remember that marriage is also a legal institution.  More important than the previous lessons though, is that everybody can happily coexist if everyone respects each other’s views and choices.

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