Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Same sex marriage

Checking in at Liberal Conspiracy I see yet another attempt to clear up same-sex marriage. At a civil level this is rather simple to deal with. If we define marriage as 'a formal ceremony between a man and a women to demonstrate their level of commitment' we can now apply Occam's Razor of not adding unnecessary entities.

We need to define it as a formal ceremony as this is recognised by law and thus differentiates it from two people standing alone on a lawn and stating that they're now married. We also need to define this as being about commitment - a wedding is not a funeral after all. So that leaves the bit in-between; is it required at all?

Well if we stated that the entirety of law only applied to humans than no; but as it doesn't something needs to be added. We could change it to 'two people' but again why do we need to specify two; is there a particular reason why it has to be and can only be two? No not really. So the definition can be: 'a formal ceremony between people to demonstrate their level of commitment'. It can't be reduced any further.

If applied at a civil level this not only allows same-sex marriage but also polygamy.However should this be applied at a religious level?

Should a religion be allowed to refuse to officiate at a marriage ceremony if it's beliefs clash with those of the participants? Logically yes if we consider a religion to be a private organisation then it's quite correct for a club to refuse to host a party for a group of non-members. In this instance a religion can refuse for the same reason. But what if the club also didn't allow certain people to join in the first place? It's perfectly acceptable for a club to refuse to host a party for homosexuals as they're not members, but what if the club refused to allow them to ever join in the first place because of their sexuality?

Well that would be discrimination. So now the question how is discrimination and religion to be balanced? They shouldn't be - religion is held to the same standards as everyone else. This would be fine except we now have some logical fun - a religion can't refuse a homosexual from becoming a member of that religion, however to become a member requires a profession of faith in the tenets laid down by that religion which may include a prohibition of homosexuality. Ergo all members are heterosexual and as such any member asking that religion to perform a same-sex marriage is therefore not a member (or a member under false pretences) and can be refused

Unlike a private club in which any rules such as "No Homosexuality" would be illegal; religion is protected as a belief and can thus legally contain such rules.

The short answer is to let the religions continue with the logical fun I've stated and just change the civil marriage which should remove the need to differentiate it from a civil partnership.