Op-Ed: A Republican in Favor of Question 6 (Same Sex Marriage)

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Many Republican voices here in Maryland are calling on people to vote “No” on all of the state ballot questions. I am not one of them. I’m suggesting that people ought to be voting “Yes” on at least one question – Question 6.

I hear a wide variety of objections from my GOP friends to this stance, so I’d like to address them quickly.

Marriage equality is no threat to religious liberty. American courts have always been extremely respectful of freedom of religion and still are today. When churches in America can still legally refuse to marry an interracial couple, have a woman as a priest, or hire a gay person as a Sunday school teacher there is little reason to think any effort to force them to marry same-sex couples would meet with success.

Likewise, marriage equality is no threat to the traditional definition of marriage. If you’re married and you oppose gay marriage, let me ask you something – when did you consider yourself married, when the priest pronounced you man and wife or when your marriage license was recorded at the courthouse? I’m going to wager almost everyone will say it’s the former.

Why is that the case? The reason is simple – there are two kinds of marriage. The first is (Big-M) Marriage, the long-standing social institution that is a foundation of society. The second is (little-m) marriage, a contract between two consenting adults that government uses for classification purposes regarding select benefits and tax obligations.

So given that reality, how can a narrow change in the legal meaning of civil marriage possibly be any threat to Marriage, an institution that has existed for millennia and easily predates the creation of government? Simply put, it can’t.

On the other hand, overturning Maryland’s same-sex marriage law does threaten something: freedom of contract.

We’ve already established that there are key differences between the Marriages done by churches and the marriages offered by the state. Limiting access to that contract to only two adults of different genders is to deny them freedom of contract just as surely as it would be to say two Asians couldn’t create a joint partnership or two Catholics couldn’t jointly lease a property. All are arbitrary limitations, without any compelling state interest, on freedom of contract – one of the foundations of all market economies.

It is disappointing that it has taken our great state so long to rectify this shameful inequity, but at least we’ve taken a step in the right direction. Don’t let yourselves be confused by issues that aren’t really in play – vote “Yes” on Question 6 and vote in favor of more freedom and a less intrusive government.

Please note, that while I am an elected member of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee, I am not speaking on behalf of the committee.

Letters to Editor

  1. Jamie Williams says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and clarification on question 6. Excellent points.

    Signed…
    Another Republican for Question 6

    • Mike Bernard says:

      Jamie, this bluer-than-blue Democrat thanks you for your support of Question 6. So does my husband of 19+ years.

  2. Mike Bernard says:

    Indeed, there are many reasons to vote FOR Question 6, and to clarify the ballot asks voters to vote “FOR” or “against,” not “yes” and “no.”

    It is time that families headed by committed gay and lesbian couples be recognized with a marriage license, if they so choose to obtain one. Not only are fairness and equality espoused, but also practical legal rights – 400 of them, in fact – that protect these families, many with children, in areas of economy, taxation, education, social status, inheritance, and family care.

    The beauty of the Civil Marriage and Religious Protection Act, the law that Question 6 addresses, is that it proves the state of Maryland can fulfill its obligation of equal protection under the law to all of its citizens yet recognize that religions, churches, and the faithful can practice their beliefs as they wish. They won’t be required to perform any Marriage they wish not to, but the state of Maryland will issue marriage licenses independently.

    This law does not change church doctrine. It does not address accommodation laws that have been in place for years that prohibit discrimination of services. School curricula is not affected, since that is determined by local school boards.

    Fair-minded Marylanders will look beyond religious objections and see that it is only right that their gay and lesbian friends, family, neighbors, and parishoners share in the equal protections offered automatically to heterosexual couples in marriage.

    I am optimistic that a majority of Marylanders will vote FOR Question 6, as I have, and preserve this most important law that protects all committed couples.

  3. Kevin, thank you for making what I consider is a better argument on the idea of the separation of marriage and state that I’ve presented before and have managed to anger BOTH sides…

    “… there are two kinds of marriage. The first is (Big-M) Marriage, the long-standing social institution that is a foundation of society. The second is (little-m) marriage, a contract between two consenting adults that government uses for classification purposes regarding select benefits and tax obligations.”

    I support the idea of protecting the legal rights of same-sex couples and if the state must define (little-m) marriage, then I agree with Question 6. To me, it would make more sense for the government to simply acknowledge the contractual rights of all consenting couples and not actually define the term “marriage” so as not to confuse the “little-m” concept of marriage with the “Big-M” concept. I think it’s the inablilty of many to separate the two concepts that causes the problems on both sides of the issue.

  4. Under the U.S. Constitution, there is only one valid question — yes or no? — regarding Question 6: Do you support equality under the law for each and every citizen?
    Any other debate, dispute, disagreement, dissent, or difference of opinion is a red herring.

  5. Stephan Sonn says:

    Points well taken.

  6. My litmus test was whether the question conformed to the first, ninth, tenth, and fourteenth amendments.

  7. Mike Bernard says:

    Maryland: thanks to the over 1.2 million voters who stood by their gay and lesbian families, friends, co-workers, and churchgoers in affirming the Civil Marriage Protection Act by affirming Question 6. I am thrilled that equality and fairness has been advanced in a big, big way!

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