TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, February 24, 2004
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All marriage licenses should be outlawed

Brian Chatman is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.

The gay marriage debate is the result of a failure to understand the Constitution. Now, I know what you think I am going to say. Homosexuals deserve the right to marry under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Well, my presumptuous friend, you are wrong. According to the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, no one should be allowed to marry.

I don’t mean that marriage should be abolished. I do mean, however, that government licensing of marriage is against the Constitution. As the conservatives against gay marriage point out ad nauseum, religion has traditionally defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Based on that statement alone, this debate is over. If religion defines marriage, and we believe in the freedom to choose what religious belief we ascribe to, then the government should not have a say in what marriage is.

The First Amendment protects our right to choose our own religious beliefs, so a religion against gay marriage has every right to ban it. It is also true that if even one person’s religious convictions deems gay marriage OK, and wishes to enter into that type of union with someone, then that person is just as entitled to marry as the other religion is allowed to ban the marriage. If someone doesn’t approve of the differing opinion, then that person can do what the Catholic Church has done with marriages outside of the church for centuries: Ignore them.

The legal institution of marriage is in itself unconstitutional. It creates a legal distinction based on marital status. This is a clear violation of equal protection since more rights are given to one group and not to another.

The solution is to eliminate joint tax returns and marriage licenses. If everyone filed their return separately, there would be no single or marriage penalty for taxes. Rules surrounding the child tax credit and claiming dependents would have to be altered, but it would amount to a minor change in tax code. Marriage licenses could be replaced by marital agreements written by individuals. These agreements would merely have to be notarized. Religious groups, conservative and liberal, can create their own versions of the contracts. If a religious group wants to put eternal damnation as penalty for breach of contract, then it is more than welcome to. This also allows individuals to make clear, at the inception of marriage, what the terms involve and could be expanded to include division of property if the marriage ends.

The interesting part is that this idea is more consistent with Bush administration policy than an amendment banning gay marriage. Bush’s faith based initiatives were created on the presumption that religious groups could provide guidance, basic health care and adult education better than the government. If religion is more effective than government in handling these issues, why not marriage? Religions handled marriage long before the good old U.S. of A. stepped in. The president should put his money where his mouth is and let an individual’s religious beliefs resolve the current marriage debate.
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