The NJ Supreme Court’s decision in Lewis v. Harris, which recognized as fundamental a same sex couple’s right to have all the benefits of marriage, was, in the classic sense, a compromise borne of cowardice.
My point is not to ‘debate’ same sex marriage. There is no debate. Marriage only comes in two forms: a religious ceremony, performed by a cleric, which carries no civil effect, and a civil marriage, which is the state’s recognition of an economic relationship. Despite the pomp and frippery of a religious ceremony, it is the state that makes it official.
As long as no law can tell a temple whom it can marry, then it follows that no temple can tell the law whom it can marry. Any objection to same sex marriage equality is thus a religious objection. It is therefore of no consequence in or to a secular republic. Folk who are not satisfied with holding and expressing their religious beliefs within family and church and who insist that their religious values should dictate state policy should move to Iran to some other such place where religious ‘values’ dictate policy.
I was involved in the Lewis case. I represented one of the amicus parties, along with other counsel. We wished for more. We wished for a rose by any other name. We wanted marriage equality, and now, the battle begins again.
NJ’s attorney general Rabner recently disappointed us in that effort by suggesting that NJ would ‘recognize’ marriages from outside of NJ as ‘civil unions’ only. This is, of course, an insult both to the principle, and also to those couples – and to the states from which they come – who were married where legislatures are braver.
It’s ‘just’ a word, is marriage, but then, so is ‘justice.’