First Letter to the Purdue Paper
I picked up the Purdue Exponent for the first time the other day and found some of the typical hot-button topics on the opinion page. In particular, there was a letter that stated (among other things):
Marriage is a religious institution first. Every major religion has some variant of it. It just so happens that for reasons of inheritance, taxes and custody, the government keeps a tab on it. Let's just keep in mind that real marriage is a religious thing.
The "marriage" found in government hardly rises above the level of other government controlled entities. For instance, to get a driver's license you must meet a certain set of criteria[...] Few would call their license a "right." To call the legal status of "marriage" provided by the government a human right is probably giving it a little too much credit.
Here is my response:
Steven O'Keefe's letter regarding the gay marriage debate was perhaps the most arrogant and flawed argument regarding the topic that I have read. In Mr. O'Keefe's words, “real marriage is a religious thing.” According to his letter, since every major religion has a form of marriage, then every marriage must be religious. This argument assumes the converse of the original statement, which is logically unsound.
Mr. O'Keefe also inaptly compares civil marriage to a driver's license, which requires demonstration of ability and knowledge concerning driving. What unique skills must one show to get a marriage license? None.
Even more to the point, why does Mr. O'Keefe think he can be the arbiter regarding what qualifies as a “real marriage?” I have friends who were married by a justice of the peace in a secular ceremony. Would Mr. O'Keefe argue for denying them civil recognition since their marriage is not religious and, therefore, not real? I consider my own marriage to be an emotional, moral, and loving union, not a religious one. Mr. O'Keefe has absolutely no right to speak about what my marriage is and is not.
The point is that marriage means different things to different people. My Unitarian Universalist church performs religious marriage for gays and lesbians. The fact that federal and state governments decide which of these marriages qualify as authentic seems to be an encroachment of our right to freely exercise our religion.
Civil marriage offers many protections that help to strengthen a couple's bond. Denying these benefits to same-sex couples implies that their relationships are not worth preserving. Mr. O'Keefe needs to realize that his edict that all real marriages must be religious is inaccurate, arrogant, and very insulting to this married, spiritual person.
As a side note, I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the quality of writing in the Purdue paper. From what I've seen, both IU's and Michigan State's papers were better.