To the Point for 3/10/05

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THE ISSUE OF SAME SEX MARRIAGE has been a “hot button” topic across this country for the past couple of years. It came to a boiling point in several states during the November election, when ballot issues approving of same sex marriage were defeated overwhelmingly in states; while state constitutional amendments outlawing it were approved by wide margins in other states.

Here in Indiana, the issue of an amendment to the state constitution reaffirming that a marriage is between one man and one woman — essentially outlawing marriages of any other kind, including polygamy — is making its way through the statehouse.

On Tuesday of this week there was a rally in the rotunda of the statehouse led by Eric Miller, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for Governor last year. He now heads an organization called ‘Advance America”.

More than 1,000 supporters of the amendment showed up for Eric Miller’s rally on Tuesday. The bill has already passed the Senate, and is now in the House chambers.

Just outside the statehouse, more than 500 people who oppose both the amendment and Eric Miller’s rally held their own rally.

It was snowing outside in Indianapolis on Tuesday, but inside the statehouse, things couldn’t have been much hotter.

As Eric Miller’s rally got started, a gay-rights group called the “Indiana Action Network” interrupted the proceedings and a shouting match ensued.

Some gay activists did stay inside for the rally, standing in front of the podium and shouting things like “bigot” and “liar” at the speakers.

I wasn’t much better on the other side of the podium, as Eric Miller said, “I am glad we live in America, where people have the opportunity to be wrong on an issue.”

What happened on Tuesday was not a pair of rallies led by citizens who hold differing views on a particular topic; but rather it was a demonstration of who could throw the most verbal garbage at each other.

It reminds me of when I was a child, when the neighborhood rule was, “He who yells the loudest, wins.”

Make no mistake, I stand firmly against same sex marriage and I am in favor of the state amendment; but everyone needs to be very careful here to understand the vital separation that needs to take place.

When two people get married, there are usually two separate and distinct things that go on to ratify their union.

When couples get married in a church, the marriage is performed by a licensed minister, who operates under the authority of God and of the church.

But at the end of the ceremony, that minister also signs a license certifying the marriage — and that license is a legal document, not a spiritual one.

The license that couples purchase from the county clerk’s office is a legal way of acknowledging the marriage. It allows the woman to change her last name to that of her husband on legal documents, and that license is filed with various entities showing that on a particular date two people got married.

Please hear me — that legal license has nothing to do with the church or the religious aspect of the marriage. In the eyes of the church and of God, once that marriage is completed, the two people are married, whether they ever file a license in the clerk’s office or not.

So to paint the issue of same sex marriage with a broad, spiritual brush is wrong. Do the vast majority of Christians support the amendment? My assumption would be yes.

But I would also assume that the vast majority of people over age 65 also support the amendment because they tend to be more conservative. Does that make this a senior citizen issue?

We live in a country that is founded on the principle that majority rules, whether we personally like it or not. Fireworks begin to fly, however, when a legal issue is clouded by people trying to make it a religious one.

We saw evidence of that when pro-riverboat forces and anti-riverboat forces tangled here over whether or not to pursue a casino license for Switzerland County.

Do Christians have the right to express their views? Yes, they do; but so does everyone else. The problem seems to be that in our society you are not allowed to express a point of view that differs from others, and when you do, you are painted with a wide brush in an effort to silence you.

Bigot. Liar. Liberal. Fanatic. Rigid. Christian. Jesus freak. Homo. Homophobic. Tree hugger.

We live in a country where each and everyone has the right to use their voice.

Let’s not use it to yell.