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Faith in Lodi and the region Gays are devoted citizens as much as straight people

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AmyJo Mattheis, master of divinity and former Lutheran pastor

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Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:00 am

The question of whether gay and lesbian people ought to be able to marry in the same manner and institution as heterosexuals is about one thing and one thing only: civil rights. No other argument is before us other than whether U.S. citizens will be granted equal protection under the law, as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.

Consider the facts. Men and women who are gay or lesbian have jobs, pay taxes, vote and are consumers. They are full-fledged members of society in every way except for one thing: They cannot legally marry the person they love and are, therefore, denied the protection and benefits that come with it.

Marriage, as governed and directed by the state and federal government, provides more protection for married couples than other forms of partnerships. Married couples receive tax benefits, medical and death benefits, they are allowed to file a myriad of law suits as spouses and can adopt children together, receive veteran benefits and move freely from state to state without jeopardizing their marital status.

What are we even arguing about?

The real issue holding us back is religion. The idea that God brought marriage into existence and defined it as between one man and one woman is the stumbling block as well as the key to allowing us to let it go.

First, we can't ask God directly what was intended or meant by the idea of marriage. For those who do believe in God (which is another problem; not everyone does, also a right protected under our Constitution) is to look to the Bible.

Genesis 2:24 is the scriptural reference from which all other biblical marriage references come from and point back to. Here's what it states: Men and women will leave their homes and join together to make another one.

Think about what it doesn't say: it makes no mention of a ceremony or vows; it does not include special exemptions, benefits and credits to married couples. Oops, guess God left all that out, which for us living in 2013, is the great omission.

God left out the governmental protections of marriage, so we as a society can leave out God when we define what marriage means today. Individuals can marry and receive all the benefits of marriage, whether they subscribe to a religious belief or not. Churches, temples, mosques and other religious entities can choose not to perform religious marriages for LGBT couples. What they do not get to do is deny the protections granted by the government in marriage.

God doesn't get to decide for us, which is good news. We all want that to be true. The other scenario would catapult our society into the realm of arbitrarily deciding what God commands and which God from which religion commanded it. There is no agreed upon criteria for assessing God's commands, making such assertions dependent on the one interpreting it and their particular agenda.

God commanding legal definitions for a diverse society that has progressed in self-understanding and maturity (remember when we thought God deemed slavery as the right definition of humanity?), leaves us without just protection under the law, and that is the most sacred right we, as Americans, all ought to hold as hallowed.

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Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • Robert Jacobs posted at 12:16 pm on Fri, Apr 19, 2013.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    I'll just ask Ms. AmyJo Mattheis, master of divinity and former Lutheran pastor one question.

    Here is a quote from AmyJo Matteis:

    "The question of whether gay and lesbian people ought to be able to marry in the same manner and institution as heterosexuals is about one thing and one thing only: civil rights. No other argument is before us other than whether U.S. citizens will be granted equal protection under the law, as guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.

    You say, the only thing this is about is civil rights? "What about the God you serve in the bible Ms. Lutheran pastor?"

    What does the bible say in Romans 1:26-32 about homosexuals and lesbians and the act of homosexuality? Do you believe that God would approve of this, and the marrying of these people? Or did he really mean what he said about those who practice these things?

    The bible says those who practice these things (homosexuality) are already condemned!

    And the fact that you are former Lutheran pastor, makes me breathe a sigh of relief!

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 10:47 pm on Mon, Apr 15, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    I have never argued that people shouldn't be permitted to love whoever they choose. In America so long as what someone does is not in violation of the law or hurts anyone else, we should be left to find our own brand of happiness. As such, I fully agree that certain laws should be changed. But securing what you've outlined above can be done without changing the definition of marriage. Or is that simply not enough; is the issue somehow deeper?

     
  • David Diskin posted at 10:09 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 184

    Jerome, I know you're familiar with Prop 8 which was overwhelmingly supported by religious organizations.

    Denying same-sex marriages strips a number of protections that would otherwise have been provided.

    For example, if Person A has a child, and Person A later marries Person B who is of the same sex, and ten years later Person A passes away, Person B has absolutely no right to the custody of the child.

    Further, Person B has no rights to the benefits we would typically provide to widows.

    Granted, some of that doesn't apply in California, but it is very much an issue for any federal employee and for any employee in many other states.

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 2:26 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    Ms. Mattheis writes: "Churches, temples, mosques and other religious entities can choose not to perform religious marriages for LGBT couples. What they do not get to do is deny the protections granted by the government in marriage."

    I wonder how any church, temple, mosque or other religious entity can "deny the protections granted by the government in marriage." When have they ever been able to do such a thing; or is this something that might be of concern in the near future? This is an interesting notion that I suspected would come about, although not until the issue of same-sex marriage was settled in the courts.

     
  • Jerome Kinderman posted at 2:24 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Jerome R Kinderman Posts: 2362

    The title poses an interesting idea: "Gays are devoted citizens as much as straight people." Who says they haven’t been all along?

     

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