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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
(Gay) Wedding CrashersPosted Friday, May 15, 2009, at 1:53 PM
Yesterday, a group of people from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., came to Columbia to protest the city's new domestic partnership registry created by a unanimous city council vote in April. They carried signs that read "God hates fags" and other such offensive language directed not only toward homosexuals, but also President Barack Obama and others.
Now, let me make it clear that I certainly support the rights of these, and all, protesters to peacefully assemble. But that does not mean I support their message. Besides their bigoted belief that gay and lesbian individuals are wicked, these church members are also threatened by what they see as an encroachment on the holy institution of marriage, so they are trying to push their religious agenda onto the affairs of the state.
It is necessary to point out that, though marriage may have begun as a religious rite, it is now much more than that. For starters, marriages aren't legal without a license from the state. And, married couples are given special privileges under the law that unmarried couples just don't have: tax breaks, protection from testifying against each other in court and various rights in terms of health care, estates and child custody.
By establishing a domestic partnership registry, the city of Columbia is trying to give its same-sex couples equal treatment under the law. And isn't that what America is all about? The Declaration of Independence says, "all men are created equal," which we now, thankfully, acknowledge to mean all people. And, lest we forget, this country also purports to believe in freedom of religion, which means that government should not choose to follow the dictates of one religion when creating laws.
A few examples: What if Jehovah's Witnesses suddenly controlled Congress? Then life-saving blood transfusions could be made illegal. Or what about Hindus? Their reverence for cows would certainly put a damper on the American beef industry. Or even Catholics? They don't believe in any form of contraceptives, after all.
Although I choose not to be active in a church, I do believe religion and its teachings have their place in American society; but that doesn't mean they need to have a place of power in American government as well. Let churches and pastors decide whom to marry and how, but gay and lesbian partnerships must have the same protections as heterosexual marriages under the law. Several states in the Northeast and Iowa have already realized this, making same-sex marriages perfectly legal by legislation and/or Supreme Court proceedings. If only the rest of the country would see the light.
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Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.