Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Augh! Not Freedom of Religion!

Okay, I tweeted about this twice (@ReedP938), but I just have to talk about it some more. Twitter is just not suited to my overly wordy, rambling, highly-verbose, somewhat redundant attempts at prose.

The National Organization for Marriage (a national organization dedicated to preventing marriages) has a recent post on their blog which really caught my eye: "UK Introduces Plan to Conduct Same-Sex Partnerships in Church". I'd consider commenting on a NOMBlog moderated comment thread (no seriously, I've heard them called that by their own supporters), but other than the fact that rational comments are deleted at random (so they miss the subtler ones that don't say what NOM thinks they say, I get that, but sometimes they don't get around to deleting perfectly rational posts that ask questions none of their people have attempted to answer; it's weird), comments on that particular article are now closed (since they so heavily chop at them, I assume they only keep them open briefly so that they can keep up with them; that or that particular article got a lot of reasonable people commenting).

Now, anti-gay organizations have made claims--or at least implications--that civil recognition of same-sex marriages would have an impact on the marriages performed by religious institutions. This is, of course, a lie. Religious institutions always have restrictions on the marriages that they will perform that the state does not. A Catholic church will never perform a marriage between a Muslim and a Hindu even if they're good and straight, and nobody is remotely surprised by this restriction. Some churches require both parties to be members of their religion, others only require one. Some have other rules, regarding previous divorces or other things.
This is not new. This will not change. This is known by everybody, but it's such a basic piece of information that a lot of people don't consider it if it's not pointed out to them. And NOM depends on that fact.

Now, this article? It's about how the civil partnerships that already exist in the UK will soon be able to performed in churches like their (heterosexual-only) civil marriage* counterpart. Supposedly, anyway.
Now, obviously, this is one of the normal rights of marriage. Spelling out that gays should get it too is something that shouldn't have to be done, but does because these couples were given a distinct legal relationship which resembles, but is unfairly different from, the existing set of rules that they could easily have been given access to. The fact that this even needs to be said is evidence that different classes for legally-recognized (and hopefully permanent) straight relationships and legally-recognized (and hopefully permanent) gay relationships is not only unnecessary but actually bad (ooh, I'm breaking out the bold italic text; shit just got real).
But this is a totally innocuous occurrence. It's fixing an oversight. Churches who already perform religious marriages for same-sex couples will be able to sign the documentation to make it legal that already exists, just like they always have been able to do for straight couples. It's barely newsworthy, although you can see how they might want to get the information out there for the religious gays and gay-friendly religious institutions.

Oh, and the article they link to claims this threatens the freedom of religion. They have the religious freedom to agree with us; that's what that means, right? I guess NOM has international counterparts...

*Say, aren't "partnership" and "marriage" words with pretty much identical meanings? Why does sticking "civil" in front of both terms make people think they should be distinct?

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