Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-10-17
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

OPEN TO THINKING Marriage: Confusion of State and Church
A recurring column
by Nick Patricca
2015-08-05

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


It is now time to remove from all religious authorities the power to officially represent the state in recognizing the legal union of two competent adults in our society.

It is an unhealthy and unnecessary confusion of powers to permit a member of the clergy to be the official celebrant of both the legal and religious marriage ceremonies.

The recent Supreme Court decision to recognize the constitutional right of gay citizens to enter into a valid legal marriage makes this separation of powers all the more necessary and urgent for the proper functioning of our body politic and for avoiding the many specious religious objections raised against the validity of gay marriage in our society.

Our current legal and social conversations about marriage have been plagued by a systematic ambiguity based in a fundamental confusion of civil and religious jurisdictions. The refusals "for religious reasons" of some civil authorities to issue marriage licenses for gay marriages or of a baker to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage, or of an employer to hire or retain people openly entering a gay marriage are examples of this persistent, endemic confusion in our thinking on matters of church and state.

We need to clearly affirm the following three principles of marriage in our society: 1 ) the competent adults marry each other; 2 ) the civil authority grants the legal civil recognition; 3 ) the religious authority grants the religious recognition. The civil officiant only has power to recognize the civil marriage; the religious officiant only has the power to recognize the religious marriage.

I am frequently asked "to marry" people. I am always honored by the request but always decline—for many reasons, the principal reason being this confusion of jurisdictions. In the state of Illinois in the county of Cook, for example, to officiate at a wedding one must be a judge or the County Circuit Clerk, or an ordained minister of some sort of church ( religious denomination ). Since I am neither a judge nor the Cook County Circuit Clerk, I would have to become "ordained" by an officially recognized religious authority. Many people choose to become ordained by the Universal Life Church or some other such legal entity constructed to meet the various state and county laws governing marriages so that they can officiate at a wedding. For me, this type of ordination perpetuates a bad marriage between church and state in our society—not to mention the tensions such an ordination creates with one's personal spiritual and religious traditions.

This confusion of civil and religious jurisdictions causes some people to fear that their church will be forced by civil law to marry gay couples even though their church does not recognize gay marriage. The best way to end this confusion is to remove the church from the business of state marriage.

Clarifying the proper jurisdictions of church and state would greatly assist our political discussions of the role of religion and faith in our society, especially in regard to abortion and birth control and other issues involving the idea of religious freedom.

The criteria that the state establishes for recognizing the marriage of competent adults belong to the realm of politics and are based on our Constitution and our legal and social traditions. The criteria that a church or a religion employs are based on its sacred texts and traditions. Even when civil and religious traditions overlap in any given matter, we must distinguish which values are civil and which values are religious. If you believe that homosexual activities are sinful, that is a religious judgment. If you believe they are criminal, that is a civil legal judgment.

The decision of our Supreme Court to recognize gay marriage has provoked discussions on how this decision might affect other forms of marriage arrangements such as polygamy or group marriage. This discussion represents a test case for us to avoid sensationalistic headlines and to delineate what matters are properly civil and what matters are properly religious.

In December of 2013, a portion of the ban on polygamy in Utah was partially struck down by a Federal Court because it was based on the legal premise that co-habitation is criminal. This decision presents the legal judgment that group co-habitation, religious or otherwise, that does not seek state marriage sanction, is protected by the U.S. Constitution [jurist.org/paperchase/2014/08/federal-judge-partially-strikes-down-utah-polygamy-law.php&; .

If we are going to discuss "What Is Marriage" in our society and what values marriage seeks to preserve and promulgate, we must first separate civil marriage from religious marriage. Then, perhaps, we can have a productive conversation.

Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, president of Chicago Network and playwright emeritus at Victory Gardens Theater.

© nicholas.patricca@gmail.com


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

LETTER Immigrants attacked 2018-10-17 - Dear Windy City Times: The Trump administration has proposed changes to our immigration system, this time going after low-income immigrants. This new ...


Gay News

Lakeside Pride celebrates love and marriage 2018-10-17 - Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles kicked off their season with the first of six themed performances honoring the legacy of the Stonewall Riots last ...


Gay News

Matthew Shepard's murder revisited 2018-10-17 - With October being LGBTQ History Month it allows the LGBTQ community to look back at historical events. And Matthew Shepard's murder is one ...


Gay News

WORLD Another bakery case, Austrian marriage, Mapplethorpe situation 2018-10-16 - Britain's highest court ruled that a Northern Irish bakery's refusal to make a cake bearing a pro-gay slogan was not discriminatory in a ...


Gay News

LETTER Response to Kavanaugh 2018-10-10 - Dear Windy City Times: The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the U.S. ...


Gay News

Archbishop's comment explains why Church is in so much trouble 2018-10-10 - MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland—Archbishop Charles Chaput's statement about LGBT Catholics at the synod on youth yesterday is a perfect example of how some church ...


Gay News

Eve Ewing podcast features Terkel interviews 2018-10-10 - WFMT and The Studs Terkel Radio Archive invite audiences into the history books with the new podcast Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing. ...


Gay News

WORLD Tokyo tackles bias, ex-Vietnam ambassador, confab shut down 2018-10-09 - The Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed a bill to tackle discrimination against the LGBTI community ahead of the Olympics in 2020, Gay Star News ...


Gay News

Alzheimer's: A Love Story 2018-10-03 - Gregory, my husband of over 41 years, was diagnosed with dementia, most likely Alzheimer's, in the 29th year of our relationship. He was ...


Gay News

LETTER A big 'thank you' 2018-10-03 - Windy City Times: I am writing this letter in response to the Windy City Times article "Peaceful assembly protests Rainbow flag burning ...


 



Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.