marriage law

Another year, another state contemplating the idea of getting out of the marriage license business

Another year, another state contemplating the idea of getting out of the marriage license business

My mother was 17 and my father 19 when they went to a county courthouse — along with their parents because of my mom's age — to get a marriage license in 1964.

With that important piece of government paper in hand, a minister joined them in holy matrimony in a simple, living-room ceremony in their Missouri Bootheel hometown.

When my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2014, I wrote a Christian Chronicle column about their commitment to God and each other.

For the last two weeks, I've witnessed a new chapter of their "love story" at a Texas hospital. My dad is battling a severe case of pneumonia and a problem with his kidney function.

Night after night, Mom has slept (albeit not much) on a hospital couch to care for Dad. At this point, they are both beyond exhausted. And Dad is still hooked up to oxygen and having trouble breathing.

Suffice it to say that they took their marriage vows — sanctioned by their government and their faith — seriously.

But once again in 2018, some lawmakers are asking whether the government belongs in that equation at all. 

In 2015, my home state of Oklahoma made headlines when it contemplated getting out of the marriage license business. A similar proposal to end government-sanctioned marriage in Missouri drew attention last year. On the flip side, some religious leaders have refused in recent years to sign government marriage licenses — saying that's not their role.

Enter Alabama, which is considering similar legislation this session in response to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015.

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Religious freedom buffet: Los Angeles Times scattershoots on same-sex marriage decision

Religious freedom buffet: Los Angeles Times scattershoots on same-sex marriage decision

Ho-hum.

That's my basic reaction to a Los Angeles Times story this week on same-sex marriage and religious freedom.

This is one of those stories that — in roughly 1,200 words — manages to cover a lot of ground while really covering no ground at all. It's the journalistic equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet. You pile your plate full of everything and can't really concentrate on anything. And your stomach aches afterward.

Let's start at the top:

For some, the Supreme Court's decision declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry put the free exercise of religion in danger.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among them.
"Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage — when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples," Roberts wrote in a dissent joined by three other justices.
He also perceived a threat to tax exemptions for religious schools and colleges that oppose same-sex marriage. "Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today," Roberts said.
On the other hand, the same high court has expanded religious liberties. Just a year ago, the court's majority ruled for the Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, holding they had a religious-freedom right to refuse to pay for certain contraceptives mandated by the Obama administration under the federal Affordable Care Act.

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Oklahoma lawmakers contemplate eliminating all marriage — licenses, that is

Oklahoma lawmakers contemplate eliminating all marriage — licenses, that is

My wife, Tamie, and I lived together for 15 years and brought three precious babies into the world before we finally went to an Oklahoma county courthouse and got our marriage license in 2005. Since our local newspaper publishes the names and addresses of those granted licenses, we were a bit concerned about the scandal our late nuptials might create at church.

To anyone who asked, we shared our funny — and true — story.

That is, we exchanged our wedding vows in my wife's hometown church in 1990. A preacher pronounced us husband and wife. It's just that I graduated from Oklahoma Christian University the day before our wedding, and we ran out of time to get blood tests and complete the official government paperwork before we said "I do." Then we left on our honeymoon. And, well, we just never needed a marriage license until 2005, when it became important for a reason that escapes me now.

Despite our lack of a license, my wife and I — both raised in Churches of Christ — saw our marriage as a sacred commitment, as did our families. Not for a second did we consider living together out of wedlock. To say that religion played a key role in our view of marriage would be a huge understatement.

Perhaps Tamie and I were — besides being young, in love and stupid — 25 years ahead of our time?

Oklahoma lawmakers are making national headlines this week for considering — seriously, it seems — getting the state out of the marriage business.

 

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WPost: Yes, we fear and loathe religious traditionalists

On Feb. 15, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton made a startling statement:

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