The Defense of Marriage Act is what prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, whether or not it is a legal union in the state of residency of the person in question, they can’t take family leave, add their partner to their health insurance coverage, etc. in the eyes of good old Uncle Sam. This isn’t about homosexuality and whether or not we support alternative lifestyles really. It’s really about states’ rights. It falls in the same category as a state legalizing medical marijuana, and Uncle Sam sending in the troops to arrest anyone who sells it to the people the state has authorized to possess and use it. It falls in the same ball park as Uncle Sam telling us what we buy and from whom in terms of health insurance too. Or what kinds of crops and where we can buy the seeds from and whether or not we’ll be allowed to grow these crops on our own land, including the home garden.
Do we really want Uncle Sam to override reasonable laws established by individual states?
I object to the principle of the Defense of Marriage Act. I don’t think it is a “good” law, and I think it should be repealed. So, like any good citizen, I wrote my congressman. This is his response:
July 18, 2011
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Defense of Marriage Act. As your Congressman, I am committed to putting the needs of Mississippi families first. Knowing your views and ideas on federal legislation is critical in order to best represent Mississippians. Your comments and ideas are always appreciated.
On February 23, 2011, the Justice Department announced that it will no longer defend a federal marriage law enacted by Congress in 1996. The Defense of Marriage Act affirms the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. It was passed with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. I firmly believe in the sanctity of marriage, and I fully support this law. Although we disagree on this matter, I appreciate knowing how you stand on this issue.
Again, thank you for contacting me and helping me better understand the concerns of Mississippians. If there is anything else I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Steven M. Palazzo
Member of Congress
Apparently, I’m missing something here, and decided that it was time to define “sanctity of marriage” better so I could understand where Steven Palazzo is coming from.
From this Lutheran based (specific Protestant Christian sect) website, I found the following:
The Sanctity of Marriage "To be married and to understand married life are two very different matters."1 Even the believer may have misconceptions about the meaning, purpose, or sanctity of married life. Such understandings may be the result of observations made during our upbringing or that which we have seen or heard as we are "in the world" even though we are "not of the world." At times we are troubled by worldly norms and understandings of reason much the same as Lot was in Sodom and Gomorrah, "For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds" (2 Pet. 2:8). For that reason we must turn unto the Holy Word of God which remains the only unchanging and unshakeable foundation upon which one can build. Before it all, human reasoning and understandings must give way. Let us examine our topic, The Sanctity of Marriage in the light of God's Word and with the help of His Spirit. Well, that's one point of view. Next, I checked Wikipedia for a broader version of a definition. There, they state that the Catholic Church's position is:
The Catholic Church teaches that God Himself is the author of the sacred institution of marriage, which is His way of showing love for those He created. Marriage is a divine institution that can never be broken, even if the husband or wife legally divorce in the civil courts; as long as they are both alive, the Church considers them bound together by God. Holy Matrimony is another name for sacramental marriage.
Marriage is intended to be a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman. Committing themselves completely to each other, a Catholic husband and wife strive to sanctify each other, bring children into the world, and educate them in the Catholic way of life. Man and woman, although created differently from each other, complement each other. This complementarity draws them together in a mutually loving union.
The same Wikipedia entry also states the following:
In both Matthew and Mark, Jesus appealed to God’s will in creation. He builds upon the narrative in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 where male and female are created together and for one another. Thus Jesus takes a firm stand on the permanence of marriage in the original will of God. This corresponds closely with the position of the Pharisee school of thought led by Shammai, at the start of the first millennium, with which Jesus would have been familiar. By contrast, Judaism subsequently took the opposite view, espoused by Hillel, the leader of the other major Pharisee school of thought at the time; in Hillel’s view, men were allowed to divorce their wives for any reason.
Where there was failure in the marriage, Jesus found husband and wife equally responsible. The two are joined together by God so that “they are no longer two, but one.” He brought together two passages from Genesis, reinforcing the basic position on marriage found in Jewish scripture. Thus, he implicitly emphasized that it is God-made (“God has joined together”), “male and female,” lifelong (“let no one separate”), and monogamous (“a man…his wife”).
Jesus used the image of marriage and the family to teach the basics about the kingdom of God. He inaugurated his ministry by blessing the wedding feast at Cana. In the Sermon on the Mount he set forth a new commandment concerning marriage, teaching that lustful looking constitutes adultery. He also superseded a Mosaic Law allowing divorce with his teaching that “…anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”
There is no evidence that Jesus himself ever married, and considerable evidence that he remained single. In contrast to Judaism and many other traditions,:p.283 he taught that there is a place for voluntary singleness in Christian service. He believed marriage could be a distraction from an urgent mission.
He believed he was living in a time of crisis and urgency where the Kingdom of God would be established where there would be no marriage nor giving in marriage.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”|[Luke 18:29–30]
But the federal government in general takes a more secular view of things, as it is supposed to, with the constitutional right to freedom of religion. Using religious rules to forbid something…is not really the American way. Basic moral rules are adopted, but these are actually more of a universal law rather than religion specific laws. If we were to adopt a strictly Christian point of view, there would be no businesses open on Sundays, nor would anyone work on Sundays. This is obviously not the case. So despite a nominally Christian majority, this picking and choosing of right and wrong seems prejudiced. Same sex marriages don’t collect extra taxes, but businesses at work on Sundays do generate revenue?
Answers.com offers a U.S. government definition of the sanctity of marriage as follows:
A reasonable synonym of “sanctity of marriage” is “holy matrimony.” Traditionally, marriage vows read (paraphrased, as couples are usually free to cite their own vows) “Let this man and this woman be united before God and let no man put asunder”; i.e. they put the sanctity of their union in the hands of a higher power, and let no earthly being destroy that union, unless they ask a court of law to destroy it.
However, judging by the “reasonably close to actual” 50% divorce rate, as stated on the website divorcerate.org, there is no ‘sanctity’ of the marriage anymore. Too many people, apparently, get married for the ‘wrong’ reasons. “Sanctity” is defined as holiness, or sacredness, and apparently, not enough people hold their marriages to that standard. So, using this concept, ‘sanctity of marriage’ is whatever the married persons hold it up to be.
It goes on with more for the second answer with this:
Sanctity of marriage is the idea of the sacredness of marriage. Marriage is one of the holiest of relations two people can have. Therefore, marriage is not something to be entered into lightly. Further, once you are in a marriage, you must work hard to make it work. You have to treat it as sacred, and spend time making it work, no matter the cost.
The greatest threat to the sanctity of marriage is lack of respect for it, thus leading to degeneration of the marriage, and often divorce (in the US). Giving up on a marriage is considered sacrilegious and selfish. Sanctity of marriage is not subjective, and to be interpreted at the whims of people who have found it too hard or too difficult. The sanctity of marriage demands personal sacrifice.
Now Greg and I have announced our plans to get married on October 29th. We’re getting married in the State of Mississippi too. The requirements are fairly simple–we have to be tested for syphilis (ala 1930s, obviously Mississippi does not change quickly. Only one other state still requires a syphilis test. Of all of the STDs to test for, in 2011, syphilis is a minor issue) and take the certified test results to the Clerk of the Court, along with $22 in cash and our state issued photo identification. We will then be issued a marriage license. I know this because I called the clerk of the court to ask exactly what we needed to do. We’ll get the blood test from the health department and it takes about a week to obtain the certified results. We have to then take the blood test certificate to the clerk of the court within 30 days. The blood test certificate will expire at that point, but the marriage license is good eternally.
Okay…some things don’t make sense, but you don’t argue when you want to get married and can follow rules, even if they seem rather silly. But what if we were a same sex couple?
We wouldn’t be getting married in Mississippi. As a conservative state, I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon. As a result, I suspect that there is a relatively small gay community in the state, with the majority choosing to live in states with fewer ultra-conservative views. I don’t regard that as smart business, but it is the decision of the majority of voters in the state. (Statistically, gay individuals and couples have a higher income, and as a result, more disposable income. That means they pay more taxes and buy more products than the average low income couple with several children.)
But we are a traditional couple. We are taking the whole wedding and marriage thing very seriously, but we are rather serious about most things we choose to do. That’s just the way we are, not something some law says we have to be. But I look around in the district represented by Steven Palazzo and I question the level of sanctity of marriage that most of his constituents are observing.
I question too the legitimacy of legalizing the “sanctity of marriage” in the Christian sense. Will that require that married couples attend a church, perhaps also designated by the Department of Sanctity? What other facets of their life with be examined under a microscope by the Department of Sanctity?
It would be better if the whole concept of a “Department of Sanctity” was really just a joke. Once upon a time, the Department of Homeland Security was just a joke…until September 11, 2001. Now, even the border patrol and immigration services are enveloped by its “protective” arms. In reality, how secure are Americans now in comparison to before 9/11? How much of our personal freedom has been sacrificed in search of that “security” that we’ve been promised in return?
The Defense of Marriage Act is another example of Uncle Sam attempting to keep each state under his not-so-benevolent thumb, restricting state rights as well as individual rights and freedoms. Steven Palazzo’s belief in the sanctity of marriage is fine and dandy, but in reality…the Defense of Marriage Act has nothing to do with “sanctity” and everything to do with homophobic laws that override state laws. I’d have felt better about his response if he had simply stated that he would not support anything that opened the door to same sex marriage because his personal belief system did not permit the term marriage to be applied to same sex marriages and that he felt that gay couples should be financially penalized for their sexual preferences. At least it would have been clearer without me pursuing the definitions of “sanctity of marriage” on the internet.