Regarding the ruling by a Dallas judge that Texas’ definition of marriage is unconstitutional, a listener wrote, “I must say that civil unions between two consenting adults (male or female, whatever combination as long as the number is two) SHOULD be legal in Texas. That IS equal protection. Our country, Texas included, needs to get away from this “marriage” thing – that should be up to churches to decide, marriage is a religious thing. I thought we had separation of church and state?”
To this first point I respond by pointing out that separation of church and state is a concept but not part of the Constitution which only provides for prohibition of the Establishment of a National Church. Established church had, and has, a very specific meaning. This subject is grossly misunderstood mostly due to endless attacks from those long been hostile to religion.
There are all types of ways in which government respects religious tradition and practice. For example, even in Prohibition communion wine was permitted; churches are tax exempt; clergy are allowed to perform weddings which also count as a civil marriage (very unique to this country, in most you must get married in a separate civil ceremony for the union to be legally recognized); church ground (yes, even in an incorporated city in Texas) is sacred and can be used for burial without much government interference, and; numerous other examples exist in which government respects religious practice and freedom. The limit is that government may not establish the religion it is to respect.
The listener continued with: “There’s no reason that my life partner and I shouldn’t be allowed to enter into a contract that says, ‘if you die, I get this’ and vice-versa, or that, ‘if you get sick, I can see you in the hospital,’ or better yet, we should be able to enter into a contract that gives us the same tax advantages of a heterosexual couple that has a 50% chance of breaking up. The whole issue is convoluted and people need to take a deep breath and think logically.”
There is nothing which prevents a contact between consenting adults now, including inheritance. The issue is the unique status of marriage and the benefits which obtain from that status. Most of those benefits exist in order to increase population, as that has long been the goal of nations until very recently.
As to taxes, married couples actually are penalized in some cases such as with the Marriage Penalty. Marriage does not necessarily create benefits, even in the tax code, any more than numerous other situations recognized by tax code and statute. Child tax credits and the like are not dependent upon marital status.
I believe it is those who would treat marriage lightly and as a political tool, who demonstrate a shallow knowledge of societal and political history, theology, and law.
To refer to the oldest institution known to man and considered sacred by most every culture on earth, marriage, as the “marriage thing” is dismissive, disrespectful, and illogical in and of itself. And so is the cheapening of that sacred institution by seeing it as merely an economic circumstance or tax shelter.
Robert Pratt is host of the top rated Pratt on Texas radio program which can be heard at www.PrattonTexas.com.