As I sat listening to testimony about the D.C. Council’s “Same-Sex Marriage” Act, the key question that emerged in my mind is: Why is this happening?
To listen to all of the Council members and most of the witnesses at the hearing, the answer would be: It is happening became this is a matter of justice and human rights. “Marriage equality” is the civil-rights cause of our era. It is something that “obviously makes sense.” (Mary Cheh)
All of this, however, is manifestly untrue. Most of the witnesses who testified against the bill objected to the exclusion of District voters from the debate. The powers that be in the city government refuse to refer the same-sex marriage question to the ballot box. Councilmember Catania took it upon himself to lecture Bishop Jackson about 19th-century voter referendae.
It certainly would make sense to refer the question to the voters. But even if every citizen of the District insisted that someone was suffering an injustice over who can get a marriage license these days, there still wouldn’t actually be any injustice.
After all, there is no law standing in the way of two men or two women living together for their whole lives in perfect peace. All of the supposed legal accommodations available to married couples are already available to any couple that registers as “domestic partners.”
No one testified about a specific legal accommodation that is in dispute. No one. No one referred to any problem with taxes, hospital visitation, wills, property ownership, etc. No one mentioned any of these things, because the fact is that this hearing had nothing to do with practical matters.
We were not in the hot hearing room together to settle a practical matter. So why were we in there?
When a man and a woman get married, witnesses must be present. One of the witnesses must be an “officiant.”
Now, an officiant is actually not absolutely necessary. A man and a woman can get married by exchanging vows and consummating their bond. This is what is absolutely necessary. In extreme cases—like when the state persecutes the Church and all the priests are in jail—in such cases, a man and a woman can get married without an officiant.
Couples, however, tend to approach officiants even though we aren’t absolutely necessary. Couples seek a witness who has the authority to approve what they are doing. Couples want an authority above themselves to smile upon, to bless, to accept their marriage.
This makes all the sense in the world. Sex is powerful and beautiful—it is also a shaky, dangerous thing. Prudent people do not take sex and marriage into their own hands alone. They lean on the authority of a greater power to give stability to what they are doing.
My point is: Weddings are very much about approval. The ceremony, the festivity, the presence of everyone at the wedding—it all says to the couple: You are okay. You are on the right track. Couples need this.
The “same-sex marriage” movement is not about anyone’s rights, because there are no identifiable injustices going on. The hearing I just sat through was about approval, about making it OKAY to be gay.
It broke my heart to come into contact with so many desperate souls longing for approval. The irony is: The only real approval that matters is actually only a confession away. No laws need to be changed. Just humble contrition (or even fear of hell).
The thing is: Sooner or later, the soldiers in the hearing chamber are going to come for us. The proponents of the Act insist fulsomely that religious freedom will be protected. But don’t believe it. The very next sentence is always about how standing in the way of “marriage equality” is an act of intolerance and bigotry. If this is about “rights,” then the government must vindicate those rights.
I say this with such certainty because the approval of a Justice of the Peace is not going to be enough. There is really only one authority that has the power to bless a marriage, and that authority is the Church.
This won’t be over until blood has been spilled.