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The Minnesota marriage equality act non-issue
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By Stephen Browne
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: \x34Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY ...
Rants and Raves
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used, published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories. In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.
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By Stephen W. Browne
May 24, 2013 11:24 a.m.

Note: This is cross-posted on my professional blog at the Marshall Independent.
Well Gov. Dayton has signed the marriage equality act, and depending on which side you line up on either the sky if falling or Minnesota has leaped into the forefront of human progress.
I’ve advanced my notions on this issue before, and been roundly condemned by both sides. But fools rush in…
Am I the only one who thinks this is the biggest non-issue today?
In Your Humble Narrator’s opinion, marriage is two things, sacred and secular.
Marriage in the secular sense is a legal contract involving obligations of support, rights of inheritance, the power to act for another in the case of incapacity, etc.
Does anyone see anything absolutely gender-specific about this? I’m not a lawyer, but it doesn’t seem so to me. Or at least not anything that minor modifications wouldn’t adjust it to the needs of gay couples. To my non-professional eye it looks rather like a legal adoption except that the rights and obligations are equal and reciprocal.
Marriage is also a religious sacrament. In the Catholic church one of seven: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.
My understanding is that when an ordained priest or minister performs a marriage he/she also serves as a registrar for the local government and gets a small fee for filing the appropriate papers.
It’s not done this way everywhere. In many countries in Europe couples have two ceremonies, one at the local government office and one in church. In some places they do this in the morning and afternoon, but I knew couples in Poland who waited years and had a few kids before getting around to the church wedding.
My children’s Polish grandparents had a church wedding in the city of Wroclaw – at 6 o’clock in the morning with a witness they literally dragged in off the sidewalk, because grandpa was an officer in the Army of the Polish People’s Republic and he was terrified the Party would find out he’d been married in church.
But I digress. My point is, aren’t we supposed to have something called “separation of church and state” in this country?
What business is it of the state to define what marriage is? Shouldn’t the role of government be confined to registering the contract and enforcing the provisions thereof if necessary?
The question of marriage in the sacred sense is the business of the churches. If yours does it, fine.
If it doesn’t, agitate for change or join another. Or start your own, it’s the Californian Way.
DO NOT demand the state force your church to do it. Whether you agree or disagree with the stand of your or anybody else’s church, that separation thing works both ways.
The only issue remaining is whether society at large is going to recognize same-sex couples as married.
Can’t help you there, people think as they please. Some will, some won’t. In the long run…. we’ll see.

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