Friday, February 22, 2013

Gay Marriage and the Huntsman

Instead of searching for something to write about, lately I've been waiting for a topic to jump out at me rather than writing for the sole purpose of producing a blog post. Now don't get me wrong; even if I wasn't innately passionate about a subject prior to writing, the process of research, contemplation and analysis always pivots me into a temporary obsession with whatever issue I am discussing. Don't believe me? Watch...

Apples. Yeah, apples are alright I guess. They're round and glossy. Crunchy and sweet. I eat them regularly. They're full of nutrients and loaded with health benefits. In fact, they're absolutely delicious. In fact, I love apples. Actually, I need an apple. Now. Where are all the apples? Did someone eat the last apple? I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT APPLES!

See that thought process? It happens with my blog posts every time. Even so, I've been making it a point to write only when I'm extremely passionate about a subject matter, which brings me to this post.

Gay marriage. I know, I know... I'm a raving liberal that can't keep my political orientation in my pants. Sorry. I'm not ashamed to admit that the topic of civil gay marriage is one closest to my heart. In my opinion, the right for two consenting adults to marry one another is so starkly a civil right that cannot be marred by the blurring of church and state.

That is why I was both excited and relieved when the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman (who happens to be Mormon)recently declared his support for gay marriage outside of church institutions. In an op-ed piece for The American Conservative, Huntsman wrote:

"conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry. I’ve been married for 29 years. My marriage has been the greatest joy of my life. There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love."

He went on to assert that religious institutions should not be forced to accept gay unions within their respective churches.

This bold statement, made by a Republican nonetheless, was so poignant for me not because it will revolutionize the way members of the church perceive gay marriage (it won't), but because it marks a clear delineation between religion and politics.

I am well aware that the official stance of the LDS church will never waiver concerning gay marriage within its institution. I understand that this position is backed by eternal beliefs of gender, family and procreation. My intention was never to challenge eternal principles or to infer that our religious belief system is faulted. My only concern and consequent argument is that religious beliefs should not permeate into political legislature. Religion should not attempt to force those who do not accept our system of truth to live within the confines of our beliefs. Just as religious institutions are given the freedom to autonomously practice their rituals, rites and beliefs, so should political decisions be made free from the constraints of religious conjecture.

A prominent argument I've found in opposition to gay marriage is that it will degrade the sanctity of marriage. Really? I'm sorry to say, but when the divorce rate is sitting at around 45%, domestic abuse runs rampant, extramarital affairs are commonplace and swinging is the new cool thing to do, I'm pretty sure straight people have already degraded the inherent godliness of marriage. It is harsh and somewhat naive to say that two women who have been in love for years would further the downward spiral of marriage. And I don't want to be naive. I'm sure gay people will get divorced, abuse each other, have affairs and put their watches in a bowl for a swinging good time as well. But shouldn't they be allowed the opportunity to debauch what was once so divine, just as much as us straight people?

Okay, I don't want to be a Debbie Downer. I do believe that marriage can still be sacred, especially when faith and God are in the equation. But the sacredness of marriage is not dependent on civil law or constitutional amendments. It is contingent upon individual couples upholding their vows and covenants to ensure its sacramental meaning. But civil society should not be expected to comply with our belief that marriage is consecrated by God. Like it or not, a lot of 'Mericans don't even believe in God, and as beloved freedom entails, we are constitutionally banned from forcing others to adhere to any religion, creed or code.

This is the way I see it. I have been married for nearly 5 years. I was married by sacred ritual in an LDS temple. When I was married, I promised to keep faith and God a part of my marriage to ensure its sanctity and success. I believe that the success and sacredness of my marriage is contingent upon me and my husband's ability to maintain a relationship with God. I don't believe that allowing two men to marry would have any effect on my personal relationship with God or my husband. If it did, well that wouldn't be saying much for my marriage or my faith.

"But what will we teach our children?" I've heard people ask. Teach them that when two consenting adults love each other, they get married. Teach them that when two Mormons love each other, they get married in the temple, which does not (and never will) allow same-sex marriage.

So tip of my hat to you, Jon Huntsman, for being a real American through and through. Not only are you a Republican in support of gay marriage, but by asserting that religious institutions should not be forced to accept prospective changes to civil marriage, you were able to uphold your religious devotion, all while observing the tenets of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. That, my friends, is a taut tightrope to walk.

Thought? Disagreements? Opinions? You know I always like to hear what you have to say...