SCOTUS, DOMA, and My Decision to Change My Facebook Profile Picture

This morning I finally made the decision to change my Facebook profile picture to this:

I am aware that I am rather late to the party. But, and I’m going to be honest here, I was a little concerned about what others would think. I don’t often worry about that. But this is a Big Deal here in Utah, and changing my Facebook profile picture declared something.

And it declared something more unequivocal than the sad little word-vomits that a very few people have been privy to when it comes to my feelings on the Church and gender issues.

So I am a little nervous. There are already implications that poor Josh needs to get his wife under control, and, well, here’s more proof.

My Problems with DOMA (and Prop 8)

I’ve long believed that the connection between the religious aspects of marriage and the legal/tax aspects of marriage is a problem. On the one hand, you have the religious idea of marriage. But not everyone has the same religious beliefs — or any religious beliefs. And, on the other hand, our society confers a number of legal, tax, and employment benefits on those who fit the definition of “marriage.”

I think those aspects of marriage should be permanently divorced from each other. If you want the legal, tax, and employment benefits we associated with marriage, I think you should go down to the Justice of the Peace, or register at the courthouse, or do whatever legal paper-signing is required to get that protection in a non-religious setting, without religious officiation. Then, if a religious ceremony is important to you, go ahead and do that, too. It neatly solves the problems we see when we continue to allow one specific set of religious beliefs to dominate the definition of what constitutes a legal partnership.

There are financial and legal benefits attached to marriage, and we either need to relegate marriage to the strictly religious realm and require everyone to get civil unions to have their partnerships recognized by the government, or we need to expand our society’s definition of marriage.

DOMA legalizes discrimination against those who are part of same-sex partnerships.

Even if states pass laws about civil unions or marriage or whatever, same-sex couples just don’t get the same tax treatment at the federal level because of DOMA. That’s discrimination, pure and simple.

And, to be honest, I think the Church needs to address this difference. The Church affirms support for employment and legal rights for same-sex couples:

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.


As you can see, it doesn’t address the issue of DOMA, or the fact that many same-sex couples are not receiving those protections because of legislation like Prop 8 and DOMA. 

Marriage-as-religion needs to be separated from marriage-as-legal-partnership. When that is done, religions can choose whom to perform marriages for (just as they do now; not everyone can have a temple sealing, even if they are members of the Church), and same-sex couples can receive the legal, tax, and employment benefits they should be entitled to without all of this trouble.

9 Responses to SCOTUS, DOMA, and My Decision to Change My Facebook Profile Picture

  1. The problem with the struggle for equality is that too many people focus on what they will ‘lose’ and not enough focus on what others will gain. Life is a team sport. Stop hogging the ball.

  2. I openly admit I’m too chicken to change my facebook picture, even though I want to. I’m already such an oddball down here, I’m not sure I’m ready to face social ostracism just yet… But then I think I should be brave and stand up for what I believe. I don’t know. And I totally agree with you, making everyone have a civil union, and leaving the tax issues etc. to the government, would be a real game changer. I know in Germany everyone has to have a civil union, so those who want temple marriage simply go there after their civil ceremony. When I got married, I really wished I could have had that option, as it would have meant my parents could have attended my wedding. As it was, my dad chose not to come because he knew he would be excluded. 🙁 Anyway, long story short, totally agree with you.

  3. Dangit. Try again.

    We often (VERY often) disagree and on really core issues. However, I am with you on this one.

    I think we need to separate religious marriage and state marriage.

    From there, consenting adults (be it a “traditional” heterosexual couple, a homosexual couple, a “polygamist” husband with six wives or an adult parent-child relationship), should be able to make legal contracts that extend to them legal benefits.

    Churches can continue to sanction marriages between whomever they feel God approves of.

    As it stands, the licensing of marriage makes it a state-granted privilege, not a right, and many legal protections are limited to many groups of people (not just homosexuals). The meaning and value of marriage is muddied and the institution is degraded not by homosexual couples but by the government involvement.

  4. Hooray for common ground 😉 And don’t forget that polygamy includes polyandry, as well as polygyny.

    But, yes, I agree that such legal arrangements, providing you the chance to designate those who share employment benefits, and partnership for tax purposes, should be separated from religious marriage.

  5. Doreen (hi, Doreen!) is right that in many other countries temple bound couples must be civilly joined first. I have long advocated for your position here; a position that separates the religiosity of marriage from the human rights of a civil union. I think this would be much more straightforward way of dealing–get the government out of “marriage” entirely. I think we must also accept under this kind of rule that polygamous-type relationships between consenting adults are probably going to eventually be okay too.

    I know that part of the concern is that if the state is given the right to define, or redefine, “marriage,” and those definitions are at odds with what a particular church wants, then a church will be forced to comply with the law (this is a concern regarding same-sex adoptions too). And I do think churches (any church) has a right to define what flies and what doesn’t fly within the contexts of its own congregations. People can work internally to change their own churches or to change to another church, but the government shouldn’t impose rules on a church (generally, I’m not talking about laws that protect children in any context). Again, a great argument for LDS people to support a separation of a civil union from a marriage. I don’t know why this is so hard for us (I’m LDS too) to see; we ALREADY recognize two kinds of marriage.

  6. And at rightsandreason–excellent point about the extension of rights to a variety of domestic partnerships. How are those kind of legally-sanctioned relationships be any less damaging to the “institution of marriage” than committed homosexual couples wanting to get married?

  7. I couldn’t agree more. Partnership in the government term should not have any ties to religion…. Let that be formal paperwork.

    Then religious institutions can have their own official marriages and we can choose them if we like, no relation to the government paperwork. In fact it would mean church weddings are a little easier as a marriage license would not need to be required.

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