So Iowa...a decision to fire up the conservatives and joyfully light up the liberals.
I, like so many Americans and Christians, have thought much on this topic (at least I hope they've really thought). There's a couple things that I've noticed about this conflict. It's centered around two things: legal rights and labels. Poll after poll will show that the liberals will fight for gay marriage rights, the moderates are willing to grant civil unions, and the conservatives don't want either option.
First, legal rights. Personally, I feel like gay marriage in America should be legal in every state if all it comes down to is legal rights. Hospital visits, tax breaks, etc. Honestly, why would you deny someone hospital visits if they were in a committed relationship with someone for years and years? And what about all the foreigners who are willing to pay good money to marry Americans so they can get their papers and have our legal rights? Same difference. It's all just bureaucracy and working the system.
Then, there's the labels. If it's all about legal rights, then what does it matter if it's called a "civil union" or a "marriage?" That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. "Marriage" and "civil union" are simply just terms, signifiers really, if we want to deconstruct things, that indicate something else. If a marriage looks the same as a civil union on paper, then what is the real difference? What has our culture or our nature done to prove the sanctity of marriage over a civil union? There's the "oops! I'm pregnant!" marriage, there's the "OMG I LUV U SO MUCH" marriage that ends in divorce before they ever turn thirty, and of course, my favorite, is the "I'vefallenoutoflovewithyoueventhoughwe'vebeenmarriedfor25 years" shenanigan. If the divorce rate really is 50% and we (and by "we," I mean heterosexuals) really do treat marriage so flippantly (including the Christian community), then why do we fight to keep others from having something we don't appreciate, yet give lots of lip service too?
A wedding should be about coming together as a community, to celebrate life, to celebrate relationships. A marriage should be about commitment. The Christian liturgy for weddings says "til death do us part" for a reason. If you can't commit, don't get married. Marriage, real marriage, should be sanctified by the church, not the government. Not the legal system. If someone were to have the ceremony, say the vows, commit to one another, shouldn't that be enough? Why does the legal part make it official? Isn't God bigger than the Man? And, what did they do before the paperwork? Write their name in blood on a piece of wood? No, the community affirmed an agreement between two families and two people (I am not defending a system of arranged marriage or the buying and selling of daughters in that statement).
Getting married, to me, means coming before God and your community to declare a lifelong commitment of partnership and mean it. Being married means spending one's entire life living that out: commitment in selfless love. You could say that the "legal" thing is the part of coming before the community, but if I were to ask someone who their community is, they would answer with: my friends, my family, my colleagues, my church, not the State of California. Why do they say "By the power vested in me, by the State of California, I now pronounce you..." Shouldn't the people, not the state, and most especially God pronounce us to be in community with one another?
But as for religious beliefs. Here's what I say: take care of your widows and orphans. Take care of your single parents. Take care of those who are homeless. Take care of those who have nothing. Do that, and THEN you can argue with me on whether or not homosexuality is a sin. And I can think of a host of reasons why it's probably not.
If America is simply sitting on their arses, yelling at the politicians because they are worried about the sanctity of marriage, but they aren't doing anything to help the poor, then I think they are full of shit.