What big ideas could help America solve its most pressing problems over the next four years? Ahead of Barack Obama’s second inauguration, Yahoo solicited some creative, outside-the-box and possibly controversial (but still credible) solutions. Here’s one.
COMMENTARY | While there are many issues that will rise to the forefront of political debate among both politicians and the general public this year, few seem as polemical as gay marriage.
As seems plain by discourse about the issue, those who argue against it do so on religious grounds. Faith-based arguments against homosexual unions are diverse and multi-faceted, but the simplest and perhaps most prevalent claim is that God designed marriage for the purpose of sexual pleasure and reproduction between men and women. Thus, permitting marriage between couples of the same sex would defeat both of these purposes. Because most of the arguments against gay marriage that preclude the states from permitting such unions are religious in nature, the solution to the problem should openly address and challenge the role these faith-based beliefs play in eliding individual rights. Therefore, one resolution to legal opposition towards gay marriage could consist of the Supreme Court declaring the ban unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment, which states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
As made plain by the language used to shape and outline the First Amendment, laws created and passed by the state representatives that comprise Congress should not demonstrate bias toward faith-based ideologies advanced within spiritual communities such as churches. Interpreting the First Amendment this way results from an understanding of the phrase “respecting an establishment of religion” as demonstrating an allegiance to and preferential reading of biblical scriptures deemed authoritative by faith-based institutions.
With respect to gay marriage, the faith-based institutions (in this case, Christian churches) are the religious establishments whose value systems are being respected in that their biblical opposition to homosexual unions shapes the laws state representatives have put in place. Given that anti-gay marriage legislation now stands in perpetuity because the spiritual beliefs of church officials and parishioners have influenced government officials to oppose the institution on the grounds that it defies God’s commandments, the First Amendment is clearly being violated to uphold a religious system of thought that should not be imposed upon individuals who do not view its fundamental edicts as true or meaningful. Since this is the case, it is upon the Supreme Court to recognize all of the aforementioned realities as clear proof that the First Amendment is being challenged and subsequently strike down anti-gay marriage legislation currently being enforced by the states.
Jocelyn Crawley is a 28-year-old master’s of divinity student who holds B.A. degrees in both religious studies and English.