GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 2, 2013

Letter: Religion has no role in gay marriage debate

To the editor:

What if religion was taken completely out of the marriage equality debate?

I mean, there is nothing religious about a couple getting married by a justice of the peace posing as Elvis Presley in a “Love Me Tender Chapel” in Vegas, yet having that marriage is legally recognized in all 50 states.

I don’t know any intelligent person who thinks the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act means the Catholic Church, for example, must now recognize or perform the marriages of same gender couples. I don’t know of anyone proposing such a thing.

Fifty years ago, my late aunt became a widow at a very young age with three small children. Several years later, she met and married a wonderful man with four young children of his own. The Catholic Church did not recognize that marriage because my new uncle was both divorced and a non-Catholic.

The parish priest in Andover informed my aunt that, by marrying this man, she would be forbidden from receiving the sacraments and would not be allowed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery.

But that marriage was fully recognized in the eyes of the law, and no one suggested the Church be forced to abandon its tenets and recognize it. The church did, however, lose a one time faithful and loyal adherent to its teachings.

Gay marriage poses a similar dilemma today.

I believe any religion that does not want to recognize or perform gay marriages has every right not to do so. To try and compel any religion to abandon its tenets or principles on this issue, or any other for that matter, is a gross violation of the tradition of the separation of church and state.

Likewise, no religion — Catholic or otherwise — should be able to impose its tenets and beliefs on others, or to use those tenets and beliefs to rationalize denying gay Americans the rights to equal protection and due process the Constitution guarantees them.

This is, after all, still America and, unless something has changed that I missed, our nation remains a constitutional and democratic republic, not a theocracy — at least not yet.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester

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