EDITORIAL: An answer in contract law? - Beloit Daily News: Opinion

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EDITORIAL: An answer in contract law?

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Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:00 pm

What is the state’s basic interest in marital relationship?


SOME TIME THIS SUMMER, it appears the United States Supreme Court will weigh in on the subject of same-sex marriage. The court has decided to hear two cases: (1) A lower court’s reversal of California’s Proposition 8 state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, and (2) lower court divisions over portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The justices may offer a sweeping decision that interprets the constitutional question of whether same-sex couples have identical rights with opposite-sex couples.

Or it could narrowly decide the questions placed before it by the two cases, without imposing any uniform doctrine across the country.


EVIDENCE WOULD SUGGEST the political winds are blowing toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage. More states have approved such unions, and President Obama has come out squarely on the side of acceptance.

Still, most states expressly have forbidden same-sex marriage and many of them are unlikely to alter that stand. Clearly, that raises the question of equal protection under the laws, in which Americans may be treated differently strictly based on who they are, how they conduct their lives and where they live.

Is there another way? One that meets the equality standard without trampling the beliefs of millions in traditions that have been in place for thousands of years?


QUESTION: WHAT IS the marriage arrangement, at its most basic level, in the interests of the state?

A contract, spelling out the responsibilities and duties of a partnership.

The contract establishes legal arrangements for finances, inheritance, joint obligations, responsibility for children and so forth. Really, most of that could be written into contracts today, if so desired, to cover same-sex couples. Still, we get it. Couples want some sort of official recognition.

What if states chose to get out of the “marriage” business, opting instead for strictly contractual arrangements covering couples, whatever their gender? Call it “civil unions,” call it “domestic contracts” or some other name of choice. But treat everyone and anyone equally in a non-judgmental fashion.


THEN LEAVE THE institution of “marriage” to the religious community, to bless or not bless any given union in accord with the beliefs of the faithful.

Some churches would marry same-sex couples.

Most, probably, would not.

The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to worship free of government’s heavy hand. The Constitution would be on the side of the churches as they decided to sanctify, or not, marriage as they saw fit.

In our view, the outcome of this divisive issue should be consistent with two bedrock principles of the Constitution. All Americans are equal. And all Americans have the right to practice their religious beliefs without state interference. Contract law satisfies on both counts.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • billtinder posted at 7:53 pm on Tue, Dec 18, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679


  • luckydog posted at 12:34 pm on Tue, Dec 18, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3588

    Bill, Bill, Bill. Once again I'm amazed at the level of anger you seem to have. I would never threaten you or anyone with violence. I just cited my service as a way to illustrate that I'm not bothered by your crude attempts to upset me. My service was a long, long time ago anyway. I think that I'm just not going to engage you anymore. I'll let others react to your posts. But feel free to comment on any of mine you don't like. I'll just ignore yours from now on.

  • billtinder posted at 10:57 am on Mon, Dec 17, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    Sorry, "to happy" should have read "too happy", maybe I need to aquire some degrees and graduate credits or something.

  • billtinder posted at 10:48 am on Mon, Dec 17, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    To think I said all that without getting dirty; and the pig isn't looking to happy either![wink]

  • billtinder posted at 11:20 pm on Sun, Dec 16, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    This is the second time you've made reference to your army service. I don't know what that has to do with your penchant for citing historical inaccuracies. But what the heck, tell me where you ring your bell and I'll stop by to put a dollar in your red can, just to show you my hearts in the right place. Merry Christmas sluggo!
    And by the way, I'm not in your face; I'm in your cyberspace. I've never threatened you or anyone else with physical harm (why would I, I'm not the one angry here, am I?)[beam]

    Oh, and I don't get all my information from fox. The less accurate details I collect from you. Next time you cite the time of Christ, perhaps you should reference the neanderthal period.....
    There probably isn't much about Jesus there, but at least it's more in line with your thinking.[whistling]

  • luckydog posted at 10:45 pm on Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3588

    I do love yanking right wingers chains but I hope I'm not as continually nasty as you seem to be. Actually Bill I served in the Army and I've had a lot tougher guys than you in my face. As to the whining, you certainly have that down pat. I don't really want to wrestle that pig because I'd like to stay clean. And my position is never indefensible to anyone who doesn't get all their news from Fox.

  • billtinder posted at 8:43 pm on Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    Lucky, if you're going to come out here and yank conservative chains and hang pet monikers like "billybob", your going to have to get thicker skin, so that you can take it as well as dish it out. Or you can cry foul whenever your position is indefensible and whine ,whine, whine, just like someone else we all know.
    Maybe the real reason you're loathe to wrestle the pig, is that you just can't wrestle! [wink]
    Perhaps some more relevant medieval history will bring you up to speed.[smile]

  • luckydog posted at 12:19 pm on Sat, Dec 15, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3588

    Bill I was not intending to write a complete history of Rome or the Catholic Church in my post. I didn't mean to say that there was no religion in Rome prior to Christianity. That's not even the point. My point was that after the fall of Rome the Catholic Church did take over many of the governmental functions that the Roman civil government had performed. My point was that marriage is not just a religious exercise but also a part of civil law justb like today. And I don't think that gays that want to get married really care if their union is blessed by any religious organization as long as it is recognized by the government as legal and they are entitled to the same civil benefits that heterosexual couples get. You know Bill your nasty and snotty replies to those of us that disagree with yopu on issues are a good part of the reason I quit posting for awhile. Like the old saying goes, "Don't wrestle a pig. You'll just get dirty and the pig likes it."

  • billtinder posted at 8:31 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    However I should point out that even though Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees played an active part in the downfall of Christ, they were not in fact the reigning religious order in Rome. Romans had their own college of Pontiffs. This same organization presided over the Roman custom of worshipping and making sacrifices to the six existing recognized gods and goddesses and to emperors who were considered gods after dying. Before being elected consul, Julius Caesar was first elected "Pontifex Maximus". Did the Roman political leadership exert a large degree of influence over this Religion? Yes they probably did; but at the end of the day the strength of any religion is directly tied to the faith of the everyday laymen and apparently their faith was strong enough to persecute Christians for over 400 years. Clearly Christianity did not fill a religious vacuum and so my criticism stands.

  • billtinder posted at 7:42 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    Lucky, maybe you should go back to where you acquired that degree and all those impressive graduate credits to see if you can get a refund. If all that hoopla were worth the paper it's printed on, you would in you're infinite wisdom be already aware that Medieval times took place during the end of the tenth century, long after the time of Christ. Perhaps if I wait another thousand years you'll be able to present some points relevant to today!
    But we're not talking about that, we're talking about the religious structure in Rome that was in place long before the birth of Christ. Part of what got Jesus crucified was the issues he had since he was a boy, with the pre-existing Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes; who had fallen away from the intent of the word, yet were more than happy to help Rome rid itself of the Messiah.
    So yeah, when you imply that there was no religion in Rome prior to Jesus; you're way off base!

  • luckydog posted at 12:12 pm on Fri, Dec 14, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3588

    Billybob, Just what part of my historic evidence was fabricated? You just throw out these accusations with nothing to back them up. At least I have a degree and a lot of graduate credits to back up my statement. Read any good high school level Medieval history book and you would be surprised no doubt to discover I might just have had a point there. And MrData, yes I was talking couples not polygamous relationships.

  • FaceTheFacts posted at 6:08 pm on Wed, Dec 12, 2012.

    FaceTheFacts Posts: 327

    Don't be so hard on him BT? As we've read over the years here... he and DM seem to have 'learnt' from a different set of books than we did growing up. [beam] And I still wonder where some of the things I read come from.

  • billtinder posted at 4:14 pm on Wed, Dec 12, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    Yes, perhaps he can fabricate some more anecdotal historic evidence to support that page.[rolleyes]

  • Mr Data posted at 6:19 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Mr Data Posts: 3824

    Regardless of lucky's historical accuracy on the Roman Empire, for once I have to agree with his question .."So why not let anyone get a civil marriage regeardless of orientation or even a religious ceremony if there are churches that would sanctify such unions?" I am 'assuming' that lucky means the churches would sanctify the 'marriage' of couples.

    If that is what lucky means .. for one of the very few times, he and I are on the same page.

  • billtinder posted at 4:19 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    If governments didn't create the churches, then why should they get to define them?[wink]

  • billtinder posted at 4:13 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    Luckydog: your description makes it sound as if Rome had no religious influence prior to Christianity. In fact Romans worshiped many gods and had men of that religious persuasion in place, supporting those beliefs. This didn't change until emperor Constantine had his vision and proclaimed Christianity as the official religion of Rome.

    Maybe I'm expecting too much from a retired History teacher.

  • billtinder posted at 3:55 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    billtinder Posts: 4679

    So true Mentor, so true;
    Our godless government can sanctify whatever it pleases and so that isn't even the rub. The point of contention is that homosexuals cannot find legitimacy in their unions without the blessings of widely accepted religious institutions. That won't ever happen by any seriously legitimate church, because underneath it all, homosexuality is a sin, and nobody in their right mind blesses that.
    Of course anyone can start a church, why, even right here in South Beloit Reverend DeVelbiss, (or is it Pastor Binks?) has created the church of bondo; right in his body-shop. I haven't seen anyone there for Saturday night services, so maybe he can get all our gay folks married then. No need to worry about taxes....
    Churches don't have to pay 'em!

  • Mentor397 posted at 1:43 am on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Mentor397 Posts: 1444

    As the name of The Church of Body Modification may suggest, it's pretty easy to get or make a church that supports just about anything. Indeed, some churches would have less far to go in order to take that line of reasoning into entirely new (or old) directions. Same sex could be followed by polygamy and could then be followed by intra-familial relationships, and so on. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're saying, but if there's no reason to stop this, then there's no reason to stop any of those. If these standards are based only on the shifting winds of political favor, then there is no reason to deny any of these unions.

  • luckydog posted at 9:00 pm on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    luckydog Posts: 3588

    In pre-Christian Roman times marriage was sanctified and legitimised by the state. When the empire fell the Catholic Church began to perform many of the functions of the government which no longer existed. Things like local census, marriages, birth and death records etc. Today we have a dual system with the government providing a legal framework but churches providing the religious sanctification. So why not let anyone get a civil marriage regeardless of orientation or even a religious ceremony if there are churches that would sanctify such unions?

  • Ich bin ein Beloiter posted at 8:30 pm on Mon, Dec 10, 2012.

    Ich bin ein Beloiter Posts: 18

    So... If religion didn't invent marriage why does it get to define it?


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