Waymon Hudson

Churches Refuse to Marry Straight People

Filed By Waymon Hudson | November 21, 2007 11:08 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, religion

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketA group of local churches in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area have begun to refuse to marry heterosexual couples in protest of the ban on same-sex marriage. The churches will still hold ceremonies and blessings for both straight and gay couples, but not sign the marriage certificates of the straight couples. Instead, the straight couples will have to seek out a judge to make the nuptials legal.

Thank God (literally) that some churches are standing up for our community and what’s right. "Seventy-five dollars for a judge and 30 minutes plus parking is such a small inconvenience compared to what same-sex couples experience," explains one minister.

The idea that churches should have no real involvement in civil marriages is long overdue. Our country’s idea of marriage is completely too intertwined with religion, which is why we have fallen behind other countries in the world when it comes to marriage equality. Spain, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, allows same sex marriage because they are able to separate the religious aspect from the civil contract, something our society is unwilling or unable to do.

The separation of religious blessing and civil marriage can only help all involved. It allows the government to grant the rights that go along with civil marriage to all and allows churches the freedom to choose whom they bless without interference.

As Anita Hill, a pastor at Saint Paul-Reformation Church, says, "We're not in the wedding business; we're in the blessing business."


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Seriously, why isn't anyone else bothered that American clergy are able to perform legal functions for others? They aren't lawyers, judges, civil servants, or politicians. They really shouldn't be in a position of legal power over others.

Or can anyone sign one of those licenses? Can I just have a friend sign it? Maybe I should learn more about this....

Actually, anyone can marry people. It's ridiculously easy. You can go online, get "ordained" in a few seconds, and start performing marriages.

An ironic story: my partner (whom I can't marry) went online and got ordained and he then officiated my sisters wedding. He was “holy” enough to marry them legally, but not get married himself. Somehow he was fit to judge if they should be married to each other, but not if he should be married himself. Yes, the "sacred" institution of marriage is protected once again...

And I completely agree that churches should not have any legally binding power over people. Marriage carries serious and (most of the time) long-lasting legal consequences. Yet somehow clergy are able to establish this bond? It makes no sense.

These churches in the post have it right. They are in the business of blessing, not weddings.

Yes. Civil Unions for all. No state sanctioned marriages for anyone. Let's completely sever the religious ceremony from the civil ceremony.

I'm actually one of those people that believe the word "marriage" holds power on our society.

I think there should be civil marriages for all and churches should only bestow blessings on them. It might sound like a minor distinction, but the word "marriage" carries with it validity.

But yes, I agree, gradstudent. We should sever the religious from the civil.

I'm with gradstudent too. I've long advocated for civil unions from the government and marriage from a church. There are plenty of churches that'll marry LGBT community members. Some won't, but you can't get married in a Catholic church if you're not Catholic, so what the hell...

As a side note - I'm not sure if I've ever talked about this on the blog... I'm an ordained minister. I can marry people. But I can't get married myself. Hmpf.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 21, 2007 5:42 PM

I'm an ordained minister. I can marry people. But I can't get married myself.

Hmpf indeed!

Same-sex marriage is so clearly a civil rights issue.

Hmpf, indeed. That’s how my partner feels about being able to marry others too, Bil.

I would think churches would love the idea of separating civil marriages and blessings so they won't have to deal with government intrusion into their beliefs.

And on a political note, I think taking the word "marriage" from everyone (downgrading to "civil unions") would be harder than getting same-sex marriage. Just a thought.

Plus, as I said before, marriage holds a certain weight and gravity to it that unions don't.

I agree with Waymon on this one - with all the "war on marriage" rhetoric out there, does anyone think that it's really possible to get rid of straight marriage? We can't even get employment protections passed; fat chance on banning the word "marriage".

For all my musings on language, the word "marriage" is just a word. Let's just make it mean a civil institution first, and a religious one as well for anyone who cares about that sort of thing.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | November 21, 2007 6:45 PM

I suppose that I would take the opposite tack from Alex. I would legally erm everything a "civil union", and then let the religious community deal with marriage as they see fit in accordinance with their traditions and beliefs.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | November 21, 2007 6:50 PM

Correction to what I just said from a guy who HATES people who use "their" in incorrect grammatical situations. I should have dealt with the whole mess by saying ......."let the religiious communities deal with marriage as they see fit in accordance with their traditions and beliefs." Since Alex also sometimes serves as a proofreading eagle-eye, I don't want to hit him with both an opposing approach AND awful grammer. (:

Am I more pro-marriage than Don here? What happened? We've just entered the twilight zone!

I understand what you are saying, guys. "Marriage" is just a word. But words have power and to settle for a "union" is just not something I want to do.

I think there is a way to separate civil marriage (and the rights that go with it) from religious blessings without settling for some lesser union. These churches are taking the right step by not signing marriage licenses.

I think churches shouldn't have that power anyway. I mean, can you imagine getting your driver's license from your local parish? Yikes!

Educational and appropriate sarcasm. This is a vivid lesson in hypocrisy. I love it.

Umm, as much as I applaud this symbolic act of theirs, marriage is a SOCIAL institution, not merely religious, not merely governmental, but social.

And I will not be kowtowing to religious bigots by forking over a social institution to them to co-opt as theirs. We'll get our civil unions and then we'll get our marriages and our progressive churches can participate in them while the bigoted ones can get their rapture on and leave us all their stuff.

So then can social bodies marry people? I want to be married by my bowling club.

Oh, wait, I don't bowl.

Marriage ceremonies like wakes for the dead are for the benefit of the guests, not for the participants :)

But anyone at your bowling league can get state permission to conduct a marriage ceremony.

Thank the Lord! If I'm not married down at Stardust Lanes, my mother would kill me!

Does that mean you'll get a only-used-once-before-new trailer as your dowry?

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 24, 2007 1:45 PM

There is civil marriage and religious marriage already in this country. We don't have to do anything to achieve that -- it's already accomplished. We simply afford people the convenience of a combined ceremony.

I am suspicious -- and rightly so -- of all this sudden perceived need to change things simply because a class of people many don't approve of are seeking equal access to it.

Marriage is the legal standard around the world -- and, as a lesbian, I'll have a hard enough time getting my civil marriage recognized by other countries without having also to jump through an "is this civil union a civil marriage" hoop, too.

If you want to get the whole world to adopt a civil union standard, be my guest. But, in the meantime, I want equal access to the same civil marriage everyone else gets.

Bravisimo to the Minneapolis/St. Paul churches -- but don't let their principled stand stand in the way of our achieving equal access to the law!

NOTE: I already have equal right to religious marriage in any church/faith/whatever will marry me. The First Amendment works both ways, protecting my right to religious freedom and protecting the same right for those who persist in the foolish notion that being gay is a marriage-excludable sin.