ARC and Obama on Gay Marriage

 Posted by on 4 November 2008 at 3:00 am  Politics, Religion
Nov 042008

The Ayn Rand Institute just published a good press release on California’s Proposition 8, warning that Americans should not allow a dangerous breach in the separation of church and state:

Church and State: A Marriage Not Made in Heaven
October 31, 2008

Washington, D.C. — Californians will soon have the chance to vote on Proposition 8, which would define marriage in the state constitution as being only between a man and a woman, denying marriage to same-sex couples. The proposition is heavily supported by the religious community. Said one religious leader who supports the measure, “We believe it is a religious issue as well as a political issue. That’s where we feel the Church must have a word.”

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “Regardless of how one thinks ‘marriage’ should be defined, there’s a much graver issue at stake: this is a flagrant attempt to inject religion into politics.

“As our Founders understood, religion is properly a private matter — not a legitimate basis for government action. The government’s only role is to protect our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Under our secular political system, individuals are free to hold any religious views they wish, but they cannot impose their views on the rest of us. That is the meaning of freedom of religion.

“Once we accept the view that the ‘Church must have a word’ in the political sphere, we are accepting a principle completely opposed to freedom. If gay marriage can be barred because, as one supporter of Prop. 8 put it, ‘I don’t think God has ordained it,’ then why, for instance, can’t speech that similarly offends religionists also be banned? Indeed, this is the very principle that motivates the religious right’s crusade against broadcast ‘indecency’ — and the brutal principle that recently led the Afghani government to sentence a journalism student to 20 years in prison for blasphemy.

“The separation of church and state is a cornerstone of liberty. It protects our right to live by our own judgment, free from the dictates of ministers and mullahs. To protect that right, we should oppose any attempt to bring religion into politics.”

Diana and I wholeheartedly support gay marriage, and Diana has stated her reasons in this NoodleFood post:

The essence of marriage is the total integration of two lives: sexually, legally, socially, financially, geographically, sexually, morally, etc. The fact that most marriages involve two people with contrasting genitalia is not of any grand significance.

What’s also noteworthy is that Barack Obama explicitly cites religion as the basis for his opposition to gay marriage, as reported in the October 31, 2008 New York Times:

Hopefuls Differ as They Reject Gay Marriage

Several gay friends and wealthy gay donors to Senator Barack Obama have asked him over the years why, as a matter of logic and fairness, he opposes same-sex marriage even though he has condemned old miscegenation laws that would have barred his black father from marrying his white mother.

The difference, Mr. Obama has told them, is religion.

As a Christian — he is a member of the United Church of Christ — Mr. Obama believes that marriage is a sacred union, a blessing from God, and one that is intended for a man and a woman exclusively, according to these supporters and Obama campaign advisers. While he does not favor laws that ban same-sex marriage, and has said he is “open to the possibility” that his views may be “misguided,” he does not support it and is not inclined to fight for it, his advisers say…

(The article notes that McCain also opposes same-sex marriage.)

Clearly, Barack Obama has no problems taking political positions based on his personal religious views. Anyone who votes for Obama thinking that he will offer any kind of principled defense of church-state separation is going to be deeply disappointed.

In contrast, there are some Democrats such as Colorado Senate candidate Mark Udall who have explicitly endorsed the principle of separation of church and state:

…I fully support the continued separation of church and state in this country. As our founding fathers recognized when they made religious freedom a fundamental principle of our Constitution, our nation is home to people of a large variety of religious backgrounds and beliefs. Our government has no role to play in selecting those beliefs, in advocating for one religion over another religion, or in supporting the presence of religion in favor of no religion. I will continue to vote against legislation that compromises our country’s ability to keep religion and government separate. That includes programs that discriminate against people based on their religious belief or that use government funds to support one religion over another.

Although I sharply disagree with many of Udall’s positions on other important issues, I applaud his clear and unambiguous position on this one.

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