Dick Cheney did something right

Although I disagree with him about many issues, I applaud former Vice President Richard Cheney’s answer at a National Press Club appearance 1 June 2009. As the following clip shows, Mr. Cheney said that “people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.”

As I’ve noted before, I object to government interfering in marriage, which is essentially a religious matter. It seems to me that the state’s (i.e., the government’s) concern is granting licenses for two people to form a special type of corporate-like partnership in which the two assume joint responsibility for care of children, financial matters, and so forth. Precisely because that function—licensing these mini-corps—is a governmental role, in the US form of government it is inappropriate for the government to discriminate among classes of people who may obtain those licenses. Beyond concern about insuring that those who obtain licenses are informed and making applications freely (i.e., they are mature and know what they’re getting into), government cannot say “only Blacks can get these licenses” or “only red-heads may have licenses.”

Some people who forms these legal mini-corps (“civil unions”) may choose to have a religious ceremony connected with the licensing. The state has no authority over those ceremonies. It can’t say that people should dress in a certain way at the ceremony, that only certain people can speak at the ceremonies, or that people may say only certain words. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, though they would not be eligible for the legal benefits of government-sanctioned mini-corps, those religious ceremonies can be held by people who don’t even have a legal license to form the union. Shoot, parties should be free.

The major problem, in my view, with this entire debate about gay marriage is that legal and religious interests have historically been intertwined, and we need to separate them. An essential feature of the US government is captured in “separation of church and state.” Marriage mixes the two. Let’s determine what parts are legitimately functions of each and partition those functions. We need to sunder the licensing of the mini-corps from the party sanctioned by dieties.

See also Dan Eggen’s “Cheney Comes Out for Gay Marriage, State-by-State” from the Washington (DC, US) Post or wire service versions of the story published by the Boston Globe (here) and Los Angeles Times (here). Follow the story via Google News.



Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Memo to me, News, Notes and comments

3 responses to “Dick Cheney did something right

  1. First, the “separation of church and state” phrase is a metaphor Jefferson used once in a letter; it is not in the Constitution of Bill of Rights. Jefferson spoke many times on the need for a Bill of Rights. The University of Virginia compiled quotes from Jefferson about the reason for the Bill of Rights. In that collection you find six references to “freedom of religion” and not even one to “separation of church and state.” (http://churchvstate.blogspot.com/2008/11/thomas-jefferson-meaning-of-bill-of.html)

    Second, you seem to think religious morality has no place in political discussion. This is a far cry from what the Founders intended. Consider our current President. A man with black skin would not be President today if it had not been for the reforms against slavery in the 1800’s. A large part of that movement was driven from the pulpit and by religious leaders. Check the Library of Congress for a great many examples. Would you also have wanted these religious leaders to keep their Christian morality out of that discussion?

    When I have heard arguments against same-sex marriage, I have also heard points made about the interest of the nation (any nation) in reproducing its population. I have heard about man-woman marriage being the standard for 5,000 years. There are other arguments besides Christian principles.

  2. Hey, History. Thanks for dropping a comment here. Thanks, too, for the explication in the first paragraph of your note.

    I understand that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the US constitution. The first amendment to it does, however, stipulate that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I don’t want my government to prohibit anyone from practicing her religion. I understand that for some folks, practicing a religion includes making public statements (including voting) in certain ways. That’s O.K. by me.

    What concerns me then? When my government requires people to adhere to a religion. As I hope I developed clearly in my original post, marriage seems to me to be an institution that, in the history of the US (and earlier), has mixed government and religion. I’d like to void that mixing.

    BTW, although the leaves obscure my view right now, I can see Monticello mountain from where I live. It’s nice to hear from someone who appreciates Mr. Jefferson’s contributions.

  3. Sammy


    (It’s still legal – and always God-honoring – to air messages like the following. See Ezekiel 3:18-19. In light of government backing of raunchy behavior (such offenders were even executed in early America!), maybe the separation we really need is the “separation of raunch and state”!)

    In Luke 17 in the New Testament, Jesus said that one of the big “signs” that will happen shortly before His return to earth as Judge will be a repeat of the “days of Lot” (see Genesis 19 for details). So gays are actually helping to fulfill this same worldwide “sign” (and making the Bible even more believable!) and thus hurrying up the return of the Judge! They are accomplishing what many preachers haven’t accomplished! Gays couldn’t have accomplished this by just coming out of closets into bedrooms. Instead, they invented new architecture – you know, closets opening on to Main Streets where little kids would be able to watch naked men having sex with each other at festivals in places like San Francisco (where their underground saint – San Andreas – may soon get a big jolt out of what’s going on over his head!). Thanks, gays, for figuring out how to bring back our resurrected Saviour even quicker!

    If you would care to learn about the depraved human “pigpen” that regularly occurs in Nancy Pelosi’s district in California, Google “Zombietime” and click on “Up Your Alley Fair” in the left column. And to think – horrors – that she is only two levels away from being President!

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