The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Wednesday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. The Court also declined to rule on Proposition 8, a California case that banned same-sex marriage, on technical grounds, deciding that the case was improperly before the Court. The following roundup presents a range of reactions from both sides, with a focus on the religious aspects that have long influenced this debate.
Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’
Unlike Europe and North America, the discussions in South Africa relating to religious freedom do not center on the extent to which religion can be excluded from the public domain but rather the extent to which it can be accommodated. It is not surprising that South Africa has chosen to respond to the issue of religious freedom in a more tolerant manner given its discriminatory-laden history under colonialism and apartheid. While race-based discrimination was the most obvious, religion was a further invidious form of discrimination. Christianity was the dominant religion and was often used by the apartheid government to justify its oppressive laws. For instance, marriages that did not conform to Christian values such as monogamy and opposite-sex unions were regarded as uncivilized relationships that were not worthy of legal recognition. Thus, potentially polygynous marriages such as African customary marriages as well as Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and same-sex marriages did not enjoy the legal protection that Christian marriages enjoyed.
On February 7, 2012, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s 2008 Proposition 8- a referendum banning same-sex marriage- violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law and was therefore unconstitutional.
Should the state be in the business of marriage, or is it inherently a religious union that should be performed solely by religious groups? Will the religious exemptions to recent same-sex marriage laws influence their viability in the long run? Last week, The New York Times posted a debate on its website, in which five public figures, scholars and writers, argue about the ways in which the religion and marriage debate draws out perennial questions about the appropriate relationship between religion and the state.
A vote before the Presbyterian Church’s (U.S.A.) General Assembly in Minneapolis this past Thursday allows gays in a committed relationship to serve in the clergy but limits the definition of marriage to that between a man and a woman.
Citing her belief that the debate over civil unions should settled by referendum and not through the state legislature, Hawaii governor Linda Lingle vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have granted same-sex and unwed heterosexual couples the same legal rights as married couples. Lingle, a 57-year old Republican — and the first female governor in the Aloha state’s history — explained that her decision was based purely on the merits of the legislation, not on her own moral beliefs.
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in 2009 to close a loophole in immigration law that discriminated against homosexuals. As Sarah Posner documents at Religion Dispatches, this provision has become more controversial as the democrats have reached out to religious organizations to help in their fight for immigration reform.
Bloggingheads.tv has recently put up two “diavlogs” on issues related to religion and sexuality.