Recently, the UK and United States of America have been engaged in a controversial debate about gay marriage. The religious factions have in fact, been at the center in an attempt to dispense their moral obligation regarding this topic. Most of the religious organizations are against the existence, although the changing times have impacted the shifting positions in religion. Since 2001, various nations and other jurisdictions have legalized the marriage between people of the same gender. This has resulted into mixed reactions by the religious institutions. Different cultures and political backgrounds across the world have different meanings and definitions of marriage. This implies that the definition of marriage is not the same in all cultures. However, it is observed that a universal definition that brings together all these implications is called the union of man or men with that of a woman or women and generally entails the dispensation of certain duties and responsibilities. The current wave of gay marriage tears apart the known definition of marriage in the religious, cultural and social circles.
Many activists and compromising religious factions assume that the rights of human beings should not be violated. They also argue that love is not enough to hold in gay marriage irrespective of the sexual orientation. Religious conservatives and traditions cite religious assertions and the concerns for the children as the possible reasons behind the opposition (Pierceson 44). The debate on gay marriage has brewed lots of discussions in the religious facets such that most religious conservative institutions fail to use the services of the same sex marriages in their facilities (Berg & Thomas 206). Some of these facets try to argue that same sex marriage is immoral and against the will of the creator in creation as well as the fact that it contravenes the ultimate goal of human sexuality. The Islamic view asserts that same sex marriage is immoral and prohibited, and they usually cite the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to have been caused by cases of homosexuality. The Jewish culture also has a different view on gay marriage. Based on the facts presented above, gay marriage has brought up a heated debate with conflicting arguments, with each faction trying to justify their actions and means. The issue of gay marriage in America today has taken a varied tone because of the fact that some Christian denominations have openly embraced it while others continue to oppose the act.
This paper will address the issue of gay marriage in the context of religious and political backgrounds
The Connection between Religion, Homosexuality and Politics
To understand better the reason why gay marriage is linked to politics and religion, the role of religion in policy making can be relied upon. One of the roles played by religion in public policy making is group mobilization and individual decision making. Therefore, religious orthodoxy and traditions affect individuals when it comes to making public opinions. People with high levels of religious orthodoxy are more likely to oppose gay marriage or same sex marriage (Katherine 39). This is an implication that some people that uphold religious traditions are likely to be open to the discussion on homosexuality. This means that non-Christians and Protestants have the likelihood of supporting same sex marriage (Pierceson 44). Members of some religious factions are likely to influence decision making in the political circles. Religious conservatives are known to support the proponents of same sex marriage and as the church is considered to be a ground for moral development, it influences individual and group thinking. The religions are engaged in politics since their decisions affect the direction of votes in times of elections (Haidt & Graham 98-116).
The Framework of Religion Involvement as Motivators of the Same Sex Marriage
As indicated by Duncan, Ann, Steven and Jones in their book, there are different actors who have been motivated by the religious beliefs into taking part in same sex marriage (41-46). In their discussion, they argue that some religions are clearly in support of same sex marriage and are engaged in marrying two people of the same gender. These groups are supportive of the government since it makes and passes laws that are related to homosexuality and constantly side with these laws, thereby making the laws to become more affirmed across the land. Besides, some religious institutions have been viewed as taking active approach in the debate about same sex marriage while others are cautious about the direct and public action regarding the matter. In determining the level of involvement of religion in its support or opposition of gay marriage, four categories of people are involved, including the active supporters and active opponents, and the passive supporters and passive opponents (Duncan 41-42). The active supporters of the act are not swayed by any force or the talks of the people in their view on gay marriage but continue to advocate for its legality both in public and within their institutions. In the United States, the debate about same sex marriage includes various ventures in the arms of the government in the United States (45). Actually in America, there are seven primary avenues to be pursued in same sex policy making and these include, the local governments, state legislatures, state courts, the United States constitutional amendments, the Congress, federal courts as well as the federal constitutional amendment (45). Having the same sex debate in all of these American law making bodies portrays the political motivation of the union in the American society. In all these avenues, religion plays an important role in making it happen.
Hawaii as an Example of Religiously Motivated Political Action in the US
As pointed out by Duncan in 1991 in his book, ‘The Church-State Issue in America Today (2008),’ two lesbians and one gay person had sued the state in courts demanding the rights to be allowed to marry (46). The legal challenges arose such that in 1993, the court ruled that there was no reason to legalize the licensing of the couples. The State of Hawaii subsequently went ahead and made an amendment on their state constitution to give room for the gay marriage since it showed the failure to allow the people to express their freedom which would have amounted to the violation of equal protection act that they swore to protect. The appeal at the high court in 1996 established that there was insufficient reason why the same sex marriage ought not to be allowed (45). This influenced other states such that the courts would allow the recognition of the same sex marriage. All these actions were motivated by politically inclined religious beliefs since the initial court case involved religious affiliates who regarded themselves as the friends of courts. The national conservative religious groups like the American Center for law and justice, the Rutherford Institute, the Christian Legal Society among others such as the church of Jesus Christ of the latter day saints all submitted amicus briefs in support of the people seeking the same sex marriage in the Hawaii court (Rimmerman 137-146). The Madison society of Hawaii at the same time was in support of equal treatment of the gays and lesbians, just like the American friends service committee, which was also an affiliate of the Quakers faith (Pillsbury 28-31). As the debate got heated, most of the religious affiliated institutions came out boldly encouraging the legislatures to pass the bill for legalizing same sex marriage (Duncan 51). They asserted that human beings were called to live in relationships that included them and God, therefore, legalization of same sex marriage was critical in building the community and promoting a common good for the community at large (52).
The Federal Marriage Amendment and Religion
The religious institutions have played a critical role in making sure that gay rights have been respected and upheld in the community. Though not all religious institutions have been involved, there are some that have been involved in advocating for the rights of same sex marriage. They have influenced the legislature and even influenced constitutional amendment. In 2003, a variety of court cases were won by the proponents of marriage, and the federal amendment act was bound to be enacted. Some of the religious factions mobilized to uphold the traditional family, and lobbied for the support of marriage, therefore, were involved in the interfering with rallies, mail mass campaigns among other violent acts (56).
Rebel Religious Politics of Gay Marriage and the Religion
There has been a discussion and the court’s ruling at Vermont where the morality issue was the main topic (Duncan 61). In the debate of DOMA and the state of the court, most of the religious rebels argued that although gay marriage was a social matter, it is also a legal matter that should be accorded the necessary attention since it a civil and equal right. They argued that even though gay marriage was considered to be a bad idea and in bad taste-though not proven,’ the dignity and equality of couples should be respected since lawful affairs or marriages would be beneficial to the entire community. The religious conservatives at the same time argue that people who are married are better of psychologically, emotionally and also financially. Because of this, they assert that their union would benefit the gay couple and the community. Marriage leads to the establishment of a legal and social relationship. Therefore, when the gay couple is married, they will be there for each other and thereby enhancing social and emotional stability. It also follows that the children who are adopted by the gay couple can be more stable because of the decision making by both parents, which seemingly makes a stable decision unlike those of a single parent. The conservatives also argue that gay marriage could make and create good relationships, and can act as role models to other families. All these arguments are indications of political motivation and engagement of the religion in the debate about gay marriage.
Religious Conservatives’ View on Gay Marriage
Those advocating for religious orthodoxy and those who uphold the rule of traditional marriage argue that same sex marriage should not be allowed mainly because marriage is considered a religious rite and not a civic right. This means that legalization of gay marriage constitutes the intrusion of the state into religious matters (Laycock 121-126). They also assert that there is no logical arguments about the point of gay marriage since legitimate marriages are considered to be those that are heterosexual in nature or are related to the union of people of the opposite sex. This definition is permanently in denial of the existence of gay marriage. There is also the argument that marriage should be aimed at procreation and raising of children. This is an implication that the two cannot in any way have the ability of procreation under any circumstance, compared to the case of heterosexual partners.
The legalization of gay marriage will definitely undermine the marriage institution since it will be in violation of the initial traditional meaning of what constitutes a family. All these factors have been impacted by religious institutions towards the opposition of legalization of gay marriage.
Gay marriage has become a religious political motivation in America. This has made sure that the debate on same sex marriage is not going to end anytime soon. Although those who propose such marriage are well informed that their union is unacceptable, having originated from religious affiliations has encouraged the religious institutions to support them in the fight for recognition and approval. They have lobbied for the amendment of the Constitution such that the law supports their rights. This has occurred in various states leaving the proponents crying foul, in their continuous push against the moves. Many religious institutions, especially those who are highly orthodoxy uphold the religious traditions have come forth arguing that they strongly oppose the union of gay marriage. However, the conservative religions and especially the Protestant wing of Christianity have been left in compromise, and have been able to lobby the legislature, in the push for legalization of the same sex marriage citing respect for human rights. It is possible to differentiate the church from the state with regards to policy making since the church as the family, plays an integral part in shaping the destiny of individuals and groups. The involvement of religion in politics has ensured the legalization of same sex marriage because of the fact that religion is placed in high regards by the public. Liberal religious groups have been actively involved in politics to ensure that the debate on gay marriage is on motion as they solicit support and political leaders to pass legislations and acts that legalize gay marriage. The rebel remarks hold that, the church has helped in strengthening the politics of hate, leading the people to the wrong path to equality since the conservative religions should know that group religious beliefs cannot direct the civil rights of other people. These arguments are an indication of the involvement of religious political motivations in matters of gay marriage.
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