A Radical Thought on Marriage


James E. Copple

What am I missing here? Anyone seeking to be legally married should secure a license from the state, and I mean anyone. Once signed by the state, you are legally married.

Marriage is a secular act, comparable to getting a license to operate a business; drive a car; or carry a firearm. Only the state can issue a license. Marriage licenses are important, because it is a way for the state to monitor or regulate divorce and manage property rights. As a civil union that the state manages, the state doesn’t care who gets married (nor should they), only that you are registered.

If your religious tradition says you should solemnize the act of marriage though a ritual or ceremony, then seek out a church, mosque, synagogue or naturalist hut to facilitate the religious ceremony you believe you need to “bless” your act. It is a voluntary association, and the Constitution’s establishment clause protects this religious act from state interference.

Every religion should have the right to solemnize based on belief, and religions should have the right to exercise beliefs as long as they don’t coerce, including coercing an individual into behavior that may threaten their survival or anyone else’s survival.

If you believe marriage requires a religious blessing, then go for it. If you don’t believe that, then get a license and leave the religious groups alone. They don’t want you, and you may not want them. Remember this is a voluntary association originally motivated by the Founding Fathers to keep the state from collecting taxes to support a specific religion or particular religious organization.

If you run for a public office, (a secular position), then you should carry out the duties of that office according to the laws of the land. If you are a county clerk and swear to uphold the law, then you should uphold the law. If you are a conscientious objector and don’t like the law, then don’t run for that office – or be prepared to go to jail for your belief.

I was a conscientious objector during the war in Vietnam and believed the war was illegal and immoral. I was prepared to go to jail if conscripted, but I didn’t voluntarily join the military and then say: “I don’t want to shoot people.”

The public domain is the public domain and is secular – a good read of American history will confirm that suspicion. The wonder of the American system is the freedom to associate with just about any group we choose. Associate, believe and set criteria for membership or participation, but don’t coerce me or use public resources to support an effort that may be contrary to the law of the land.

So, tell me what I’m missing here!

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