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Civil Marriage: Let’s Take This to the Next Level, Gene

Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson is at it again:

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop told a Los Angeles gathering yesterday that the church should begin mending divisions over the issue of same-sex marriage by getting out of the civil marriage business altogether.

During a visit to St. Michael and All Angels Church, the Rev. Gene Robinson said he favored the system used in France and other parts of Europe in which civil marriage – performed by government officials – is completely separate from religious vows. In the United States, the civil and religious ceremonies often are combined by the cleric signing the government marriage license.

“In this country, it has become very confusing about where the civil action begins and ends and where the religious action begins and ends, because we have asked clergy to be agents of the state,” said Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire.

I just dealt with this again last week, and my response was and is as follows:

The way out of this is to get ministers away from being agents of the state.  Recently a Hispanic colleague in the ministry “serenaded” his wife on Facebook for their 25th anniversary.  He’s from Uruguay.  They met at summer camp meeting in February (an interesting concept,) and then were married twice: once by the state and once by the church.  That’s the way it’s done in much of the world (things get complicated when it’s not done in that order, as Prince Alexander of Belgium found out.)

There are some in the LGBT community who want to do just that in this country, which–following an example that goes back to Calvin’s Geneva–has heretofore preferred to empower ministers to solemnise marriages.  But the simpler solution is to get rid of civil marriage altogether.

Let’s take this to the next level, Gene, and stop wasting people’s time in the quest for same sex–or any other–civil marriage.


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