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02 February 2010

Definition of Marriage

My husband is an old-fashioned Catholic by upbringing. He is a self-described agnostic by faith. He attends Mass at St Mary's in Walton, IL, and we do go to Church services when we can while traveling. He says while he is skeptical about God as presented by organized religion, he is open to meeting God, and there's a lot greater probability of meeting Him in Church than in a bar. I believe a true agnostic wouldn't say that, because all sources point to the idea that God is everywhere. Church/shul/mosque/temple/meetinghouse is for the mass of humans who believe they have some connection to each other, and want to gather at a certain place at a certain time for a certain ritual with certain people in a chosen community. I can understand that comforting sense of ritual and gathering, although I don't need to be reminded every Sunday about God, and I do believe God is everywhere.

So goes the definition of marriage. I recall a prospective groom asking his chosen bride why they needed a wedding. She described what she envisioned, what would happen at the non-religious gathering place with a judge officiating and who would be present and what everyone would do afterwards. And, he responded, "Oh, so, it's like a big announcement and then, a party for our family and friends."

Stay with me.

Being "married" can be likened to the "announcement" at the big party on an everyday basis: We love each other as only two halves of a whole would. We are committed to each other. We are responsible for each other. And, we want everyone to know.

I submit to you that I am not married.  Larry and I never had a priest or minister or rabbi or anyone with a mail-order ordination officiating at a gathering, announcing we were husband and wife.  We were joined -- not in holy matrimony -- but in civil union in a judge's office, there specifically to join in the eyes of the law, not in the eyes of God, a long queue of couples and their friends and family.

Does marriage need to be solely defined as a union between a man and a woman? Does the reason for it need to be for procreation? Does it need to be recognized by the Church or a religion? Well, to be considered married within the Catholic Church or another religion, I imagine, yes. To be considered "married" by the IRS or by a probate court or by a judge officiating a union between a 95-year-old and an 83-year-old (or by the 95- and 83-year-olds) or by a hospital official, saying "Only family are allowed to visit the patient," I would say, why?  Why yes?  Why not no?

This fight is in the wrong venue.  This fight is for each community, within one's own organized religion.  This fight is not for the courts or for the City Hall or for voter referendum.  Let us take the word "marriage" out of legal terms. Those "Americans" amongst us who want an extremist Christian state, I say, go dislocate some radioactive hermits at Yucca Mountain and create your own nation.  Do not impose a religious bent on a democracy, something that is being accused of extreme Islamists who believe the very idea of democracy and exercising a right to vote to be blasphemous and against the word of God, not to mention marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

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