Federal Recognition of Marriage

Every day and in every state, marriages are happening. Federally, the government will recognize heterosexual couples, but leaves the recognition of same-sex couples to the discretion of states. How is this by any means fair?


            Hypothetically, if a heterosexual married couple goes to any other state in the union, they are always recognized as a married couple. These couples are crossing state lines, and therefore their actions of being recognized in multiple states as married delegates the issue as a federal issue, and not something to be decided upon by individual states.


            Like many taboo subjects, the Supreme Court and lawmakers are fearful of making certain finite decisions. They do not, necessarily, fear losing their positions or status, although this may happen. What they claim to be worried about is setting a legal precedent.


            Our country is made of laws that are built upon each other through the methodology of legal precedent. In layman’s terms, if the Supreme Court deems that a particular action is protected by the Constitution, then that basic action is almost always protected when committed by others. Although this is an overt method of generalization, it can eliminate a lot of excessive paperwork and casework that can overload the court systems.


            Going back to the decisions made by the Supreme Court, there have been some legal precedents set upon the concept of marriage. In Meister v. Moore 96 US 76 (1877), the Supreme Court ruled that since marriage has been around before the development of governmental bodies or legislation, any legal statute controlling marriage can only be “directory,” as marriage is a religious/spiritual act. By the term “directory,” the Supreme Court means that the government can only make suggestions on the definitions and practices of marriage, but these suggestions are not mandatory and can not be forced upon citizens.(Information obtained from: http://www.originalintent.org/edu/marriage.php.)


Such phrasing used by the Supreme Court has set the precedent that the federal government has no legal ability to enforce, abolish, or interfere with marital practices. Personally, I find this to be misleading since the federal government does not wish to make any laws or absolutes about marriage, but they accept money and create taxation processes specifically for married couples.


Does marriage exist outside of religion and spirituality? Yes, it clearly does, and it is demonstrated by certain rights and liberties granted to only married couples. If these legal rights are recognized across state lines, and if monies are collected per the basis of marital status, then the federal government will need to step forward and create legal parameters of marriage that are federally recognized.


Since religious guidelines to marriage are only recognized within a particular religion, the ceremonies involved should remain intact. Nevertheless, these religious marriages may not receive federal rights, protection, or recognition should the government create federal stipulations that outline and govern legal unions between two individuals.


Federally creating legal parameters that are completely separate from religious bias should create a fair and objective outline for legally bonding two individuals who are in full mental and legal capacity to make mature decisions. Whatever the federal government decides to call this new action of legal bonding, since the term marriage is religious in context, it should be something that is treated with an equal amount of respect. Additionally, this should be required by all couples, regardless of orientation, who wish to remain federally recognized as legally bonded spouses.



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