Gay Marriage Isn't Just for Secularists

For some homosexuals, marriage is all about religion.

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In the continuing debate over legalizing gay unions—remember all those predictions that the issue would disappear after the 2004 election?—it can be easy to frame the warring factions as orthodox religious folks versus secular liberals. It's true that that dynamic captures the general contours of the battle; polls show a strong correlation between religiosity and opposition to same-sex marriage. But it isn't black and white. A commenter wrote yesterday that there are plenty of exceptions to the general trend:

Religious gay people, like some straight people, consider their marriage to be a profound ritual, a commitment not only to partner, but to their faith, and to a loving creator with a perfect plan for their lives. Calling this the equivalent of pederasty goes beyond disagreement to insult. It's one thing to have different opinions on matters of civil rights, it another to judge, and vote on the spiritual beliefs of American citizens. The notion that pro-prop 8ers were attacking only the civil definition of marriage is a flimsy and bogus defense. I heard a thousand mocking references to "holy" unions and references to God and the Bible during the course of the campaign and there is no doubt in my mind that attacking gay people's faith and judging their relationship to god was central to the strategy.

It's an interesting argument that has received little attention, especially given that many gay people want to get married precisely because they see marriage as a religious rite. The language of civil unions, by contrast, connotes a secular institution—even when it involves a religious ceremony.