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Although some religions urge premarital counseling and refuse to marry people who seem ill-prepared for marriage, the state does not turn such people away.The most casual whim may become a marriage with no impediment but for the time it takes to get a license.Government plays a key role in all three aspects of marriage. It seems, at least, to operate as an agent of recognition or the granting of dignity. Clergy are always among those entitled to perform legally binding marriages.
In the United States, however, as in most modern nations, government holds those keys.
Even if people have been married by their church or religious group, they are not married in the sense that really counts for social and political purposes unless they have been granted a marriage license by the state.
It is a key to the pursuit of happiness, something people aspire to—and keep aspiring to, again and again, even when their experience has been far from happy.
To be told “You cannot get married” is thus to be excluded from one of the defining rituals of the American life cycle.
To get this privileged treatment under law people do not have to show that they are good people.
Gay Marriage History Essay
Convicted felons, divorced parents who fail to pay child support, people with a record of domestic violence or emotional abuse, delinquent taxpayers, drug abusers, rapists, murderers, racists, anti-Semites, other bigots, all can marry if they choose, and indeed are held to have a fundamental constitutional right to do so—so long as they want to marry someone of the opposite sex.Nor is the debate, at least currently, about the civil aspects of marriage: we are moving toward a consensus that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples ought to enjoy equal civil rights.The leaders of both major political parties appeared to endorse this position during the 2008 presidential campaign, although only a handful of states have legalized civil unions with material privileges equivalent to those of marriage.Same-sex marriage is currently one of the most divisive political issues in our nation.In November 2008, Californians passed Proposition 8, a referendum that removed the right to marry from same-sex couples who had been granted that right by the courts.Given all this, it seems odd to suggest that in marrying people the state affirmatively expresses its approval or confers dignity.There is indeed something odd about the mixture of casualness and solemnity with which the state behaves as a marrying agent. All across our country, in every region, every social class, every race and ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people get married.For many if not most people, moreover, marriage is not a trivial matter.Unlike private actors, however, the state doesn’t have complete freedom to decide who may and may not marry.The state’s involvement raises fundamental issues about equality of political and civic standing.