Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Freedom is a double-edged sword

Pope Benedict has infuriated gay supporters in the UK by talking out against the proposed Equality Bill, under debate in the UK legislature. The clergy fears that the bill will force churches to certify homosexual marriages.

The pope argued that the bill is against religious freedom and I am with him. The church is a private institution and the government really has no right to dictate who the church should or should not marry. Of course, the last statement is a completely theoretical one - sadly, governments already interfere intimately with the daily lives of private people and private institutions.

However, there is no better time than this to re-advocate the only solution I see to the gay marriage fight. "Marriage" has traditionally been an institution of which the initiation and termination has been largely overseen by religious institutions. In the spirit of separation of religious and state, the state should withdraw completely from the recognition of marriages.

For matters of legal convenience (i.e., inheritance, debt liabilities, child support), the state should recognize marriages/civil unions simply as "domestic partnerships". That way, the pope will also get his way - if the government doesn't preferentially recognize the unions that his institution sanctifies, it will also have no say in how it does it.

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In the same spirit as the above argument, I also think it preposterous that governments should prohibit polygamy. If several people wish to be consensually bound in a domestic partnership, more power to them!

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I first heard the pope story fleetingly on the radio, so naturally when I was online I hopped on Google News to get more details. Guess what my search keywords were. Link wink.

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