MY TURN: KEVIN SMITH: Why Is Commission Dabbling in Marriage?
There was an interesting Pilot Light item on the bottom left corner of the front page of Wednesday's Pilot.
It said that the Moore County Board of Commissioners had "voted unanimously and without discussion to adopt a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as "between a man and a woman" and "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."
The board did this in support of amending the state's constitution.
It should be baffling that with all the issues facing this state, which is among the hardest-hit by the recession, that with high and still rising unemployment across the state and budget shortfalls at every level of government, county commissioners and state legislators should be using taxpayers' time and money on this non-issue.
People are losing their livelihoods and their homes. Are county clerks really so deluged with marriage applications from same-sex couples that this issue should divert attention from those that affect our ability to take care of our own?
For that matter, should this be an issue at all?
I love marriage. I love being married. Yet as much as I respect the institution of marriage, I never cease to be amused by the sanctimony over matrimony.
There are people who would deny same-sex couples the right to marry in order to protect the "sanctity" of marriage. But as a heterosexual couple, my wife and I could have been married at the county courthouse by a civil servant. We could have been married eight miles offshore by a ship's captain. We could have driven to Las Vegas and been married by an Elvis impersonator.
There are arranged marriages, open marriages and "marriages of convenience." I know a woman who just tied the knot for the fifth time. We call her "the serial bride."
Is marriage for procreation? Young professionals who are too busy for children still get married. Older people who find love long after their child-bearing years have passed are not disqualified from marriage.
Is it a matter of religion? Atheists and agnostics are free to marry. People of all religions are allowed to be married, and we recognize those marriages even if we do not accept their religions. Muslims can marry Jews. Catholics can marry Protestants. Satanists can marry. Serial killers on death row have been allowed to marry.
The sanctity of marriage does not reside in how we codify it or whom we allow to participate. The sanctity of marriage depends entirely upon the love and honor that those who engage in it bring to it.
The plain truth is that this issue was never really about the sanctity or protection of marriage. It is about inserting a particular set of values and judgment in a place where the state has no business doing so.
The resolution that the Moore County Board of Commissioners passed "unanimously and without discussion" runs in complete opposition to our democratic ideals. Are we not beyond writing legislation or proposing amendments to exclude rights (pre-emptively) to law-abiding, tax-paying citizens?
Those who truly wish to honor and protect the institution of marriage would do well to place their focus entirely upon their own. Let us hope that those who would not make a mockery of government might yet recognize and concentrate more keenly on the plight of their constituents.
Kevin Smith and his wife, Margaret, life in Aberdeen.
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