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01/31/2008

Video: Oh, so they DO understand church/ state separation

by Jeremy Hooper

Alright, so this video clip from Focus on the Family's Florida primary coverage is very interesting. Mainly because FOF's Tom Minnery seems to on one hand completely understand the idea that church marriage and civil marriage are already disconnected concepts, yet on the other, he seems to have no clue why this separation is of particular importance to gay rights activists:

So essentially Tom is making our argument for us. He is highlighting that in America, no wedding is legal simply because of the optional religious element. He is emphasizing how an atheist couple married by a judge is just as civilly married as a Catholic couple choosing to get hitched in St. Patrick's Cathedral. But he is completely convoluting WHY this is so essential to the marriage equality debate! For you see, the argument we are using on our side is that (a) we are seeking the rights and benefits that are conferred by the state, not necessarily by God, (b) the religious component is an optional one for heteros and homos, (c) the churches will have to debate within themselves whether or not they wish to marry same-sex couples, but (d) people of faith cannot use those faith-based decisions to deny us our civil equality! By pointing out that no matter our faith views, we all need the civil certificate in order to be legally wed, Tom is highlighting our common thread as tax-paying Americans, all of whom are deserving of fair and equitable treatment.

What's weird is how Mr. Minnery tries to make it sound as if the separation between church and civil marriage actually emboldens his side's arguments. On what grounds can he say this?! Their "sanctity of marriage," "marriage protection," "God created Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve," rhetoric is not based in civil law, but rather in RELIGION! Gay activists are not saying we want two separate systems, one for religious folks and one for not. We're saying we want entrance into the current system, which, as Tom highlights, is ALREADY detached from a religious requirement or litmus test! And if the best our opposition can do is what we see in this video, it's not long before we'll be doing the chicken dance at our own definitely civilly-blessed, possibly church-blessed unions!

Tom Minnery on civil vs church marriage [Youtube]
***Complete FOF videos can be viewed here: Focus Action Webcasts

**As for the New Jersey situation mentioned by Tony Perkins: That is a complete red herring that the far-right keeps misrepresenting in order to make it look like an attack on the Methodist church. The issue involves the fact that the Ocean Grove Pavilion has always been rented and used as a public accommodation to other non-church-connected heteros. When a double standard was set for gays, that went against state non-discrimination laws. Read all about it here.

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