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08/07/2012

What the Romneys' marriage can teach Americans about marriage equality (yes, really)

by Jeremy Hooper

I stumbled upon this news clip today:

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Why did Ann Davies and Mitt Romney start with a civil ceremony? Well, because the new couple wanted state and federal recognition. They had secured the license (step one), so the only thing that was really required of them, in terms of the law, was a civil solemnization (step two). This solemnization does not require faith. In fact, it can happen in one's own home.

The Romneys then opted to take a flight and follow up the civil component with a Mormon ceremony, since they are people of faith. They have every right to utilize this option—many, many Americans do. But the fact of the matter is that Ann and Mitt were civilly married on that spring 1969 day right there in the Davies' home. In terms of rights, they were just as married before they boarded that Salt Lake–bound flight as they were after their Tabernacle rites.

Civil marriage is what we marriage equality activists are seeking. The religious ceremony (step three; optional) and its governance is to be left to the vast array of individual faith groups that make up this fabric. The decision to fly to your nearest house of worship is always a choice.Before the GOP nominee cedes too much ground to the "protect marriage" evangelicals and Catholics who always—always, always—use faith against gay people's CIVIL rights, I'd ask him to take an honest look at his own pre-boarding activity from forty-three years ago.

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