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Nor do people even have to lead a sexual lifestyle of the type the majority prefers in order to get married.Pedophiles, sadists, masochists, sodomites, transsexuals—all can get married by the state, so long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. All across our country, in every region, every social class, every race and ethnicity, every religion or non-religion, people get married.
This result has been seen by the same-sex community as deeply degrading.
More recently, Iowa and Vermont have legalized same-sex marriage, the former through judicial interpretation of the state constitution, the latter through legislation.
But much of the officially sanctioned marrying currently done in the United States is done on religious premises by religious personnel.
What they are solemnizing (when there is a license granted by the state) is, however, not only a religious ritual, but also a public rite of passage, the entry into a privileged civic status.
Although some religions urge premarital counseling and refuse to marry people who seem ill-prepared for marriage, the state does not turn such people away.
The most casual whim may become a marriage with no impediment but for the time it takes to get a license.Unlike private actors, however, the state doesn’t have complete freedom to decide who may and may not marry.The state’s involvement raises fundamental issues about equality of political and civic standing.Being able to make it, and to make it freely (not under duress) is taken to be definitive of adult human freedom.The statement made by the marrying couple is usually seen as involving an answering statement on the part of society: we declare our love and commitment, and society, in response, recognizes and dignifies that commitment. For many people, a marriage is not complete unless it has been solemnized by the relevant authorities in their religion, according to the rules of the religion.To get this privileged treatment under law people do not have to show that they are good people.Convicted felons, divorced parents who fail to pay child support, people with a record of domestic violence or emotional abuse, delinquent taxpayers, drug abusers, rapists, murderers, racists, anti-Semites, other bigots, all can marry if they choose, and indeed are held to have a fundamental constitutional right to do so—so long as they want to marry someone of the opposite sex.Given all this, it seems odd to suggest that in marrying people the state affirmatively expresses its approval or confers dignity.There is indeed something odd about the mixture of casualness and solemnity with which the state behaves as a marrying agent.Analyzing this issue will help us understand what is happening in our country, and where we might go from here.Before we approach the issue of same-sex marriage, we must define marriage.