One of the key promises of our constitution is that people are entitled to equal protection under the law. The text from the constitution is unambiguous and straight forward:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
If we allow special LEGAL privileges to married couples, such as a different tax rate or medical access or inheritance rights, we must ensure that these privileges are equally available to all. Our heritage of liberty and equality under the laws demands this and Americans are happy to honor that.
Yet there are some people who because of religious reasons do not believe in non-traditional families. Whether we agree with the position or not, as Americans we are also honor bound to acknowledge others right to their religious freedom.
We need to distinguish between a religious ceremony and a civil one. We currently have a discriminatory practice in civil unions. Straight couples are prevented from being joined via a civil union -- instead they are required to be married.
Reintroducing HOLY MATRIMONY
I would like to see us require a legal joining for all couples who wish to have legal recognition as a couple. This legal recognition however would not constitute anything more than being married in the eyes of the law. Then couples who have already been legally joined in a civil union can choose to be additionally joined in "Holy Matrimony" by whatever religious institution they choose. The ceremony and the marriage can have whatever significance they want, and in fact we will get a feeling for the sincerity of the religion.
This allows religious groups who feel that marriage is under assault to preserve their interpretation of marriage for their cultural heritage. As distasteful as others may find it -- we should not compel a group to be tolerant within their religion if their belief is that there should be no tolerance of certain things.
Some churches will embrace same sex marriages. Some will reject them. And people can choose their churches freely in America.
I believe that when we protect the rights of one group, we must make sure we do not violate the rights of another. If we clearly differentiate between legal marriage (a civil union) and Holy Matrimony (a church blessed event) we will end most of the conflict over this issue.