On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, thereby granting the rights, recognition, and benefits of legal marriage to same-sex couples.
The decision led to celebration throughout the country with supporters enthusing “Love Wins!”
Yet, not everyone was pleased by the decision.
On September 3, 2015, a Kentucky court clerk was held in contempt of court and ordered to jail after refusing to issue any marriage licenses at all. She claimed that issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple would violate her Christian beliefs.
Her incarceration created an uproar, with some praising her as a martyr and others labeling her a bigot. The ensuing social media frenzy was nothing short of amazing as a presidential candidate rallied to her side.
Has everyone lost their minds?
Please, let’s be reasonable. All people deserve equal rights before the law, including the right to marry, divorce, or be single.
Marriage does not equal love.
In certain places, people are forced into marriage, and in others, they feel pressured. Some freely choose marriage, and that choice weighs in many factors, not just love. (When friends and relatives disclose why they stay married, love is rarely the first thing they mention.) Marriage has never ensured fidelity, commitment, respect, kindness, or anything else.
So why marry?
Marriage is a preference. It’s a cultural thing. It’s a celebration. It is a financial and legal agreement with consequences that some may find favorable and others will not. In the United States, marriage is a choice; it’s not right or wrong.
To some, marriage is a symbol of love. But it is no more necessary to love, or to prove love, than providing your child a mountain of Christmas presents. (Though it can be just as fun.)
Viewed another way, marriage is a risk, a bet. It can be expensive and complicated to dissolve marriage. Why should we prevent someone willing to make such a high personal wager? Let people bet on their love for their partner. Let people make a public statement of their faith, if that is what it means to them.
If marriage is a sacred, protected institution in some religions, then those churches retain the right to deny religious marriage within their walls. But a state doesn’t have the right to deny legal marriage, to show preference to certain citizens—it must care for and provide equal rights to all. Besides, churches don’t have a monopoly on the sacred: if the belief is that God made everything, then the sacred is found in every whisper of love and crash of nature. Sacred relationship does not require a clergyman’s blessing, let alone legal paperwork.
Ultimately, legal marriage is a lifestyle choice with financial ramifications. Let people be free to choose the lifestyle that works best for them emotionally, financially, mentally, spiritually, and in every other way.
Friends: a legal document does not make love. We do.
Author: Erika Fayina Marie, LAc.
Editor: Catherine Monkman