The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
Two weeks ago, a 60-year old man was charged in Salt Lake City for setting his wife’s pants on fire following an argument about her snoring. So much for the idea that male-female marriages universally promote stability.
As we all know, marriage is in the spotlight. It was brought up again at last week’s LDS General Conference and is the center of this session’s U.S. Supreme Court debate.
At dinner last week, a friend said he was amazed with the rapid pace of national acceptance of same-sex marriage. A former LDS bishop, he said, “My family is a perfect example. All six of my children support it, and they think I’m a Neanderthal for questioning it.”
In his view, the train has already left the station, and many would agree. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said several weeks ago that politicians are falling over themselves to show support of gay marriage. A recent Time Magazine cover story headline proclaimed that same-sex marriage “has won.” Rush Limbaugh almost admitted as much, and conservative Bill O’Reilly told his audience that the “Bible Thumpers” haven’t made a good case against it. Even Sen. Orrin Hatch is suggesting that “civil unions” be accepted.
I doubt the Supreme Court will dramatically alter tradition by ruling that same-sex marriage is a legal right. I expect it will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (which discriminates against gay couples regarding federal benefits), and it will rule that state courts can rightly interpret state law (which will make gay marriage legal again in California).
The courts cannot automatically change public opinion. While more Americans support gay marriage than oppose it (and nearly 80 percent of young adults support it), the issue has varying support in individual states.
It is easy to dismiss same-sex marriage (along with increasing acceptance of marijuana legalization) as a decline in morality and caving into excessive tolerance. We all have our own sense of right and wrong, but as citizens we also have to deal with reality. Like the little Dutch boy who unsuccessfully put his finger in the dyke, we cannot stop the flood of public opinion, especially that of younger voters who will soon be the majority. Accepting an idea doesn’t mean you have to like it.
In the matter of same-sex marriage, we should examine government’s role in determining who can get married. Should government even be involved in marriage or should we leave it up to individual churches? As long as government is involved, we are running into a problem in which a legally married gay couple from Massachusetts or Iowa or New York relocates to Utah or Mississippi or Texas. And how do we treat their income taxes if they can legally file a “married filing jointly” in the state that requires them to declare the same category on their federal form?
With the changing attitudes of young adults, it’s only a matter of time before a majority of states will “accept” all marriages between two adults, then allow individual churches to sanction those that follow their individual tenets.
I suspect that will be the norm. Whether Utah joins in is anybody’s guess. But I do know this: the gay couples I know honor their marriage vows more than the idiot who took a lighter to his wife’s pants.