Thank you for the BDN’s editorial on the future of marriage. What it suggests makes sense to us – the word “marriage” may be less important than the host of legal and financial advantages that people called “married” are currently given, especially under federal laws. These include extra Social Security benefits, automatic inheritance rights, joint income tax filing, and much more. Though we believe that everyone, gay and straight, should be able to marry someone they love, we don’t need to argue about that word.
If all of the legal and financial protections now given to married people are provided to couples in domestic partnerships (or whatever they get called), we think a lot of people both gay and straight will opt for that. “Marriage” can be reserved for those who want a religious blessing on their relationship, and gay couples can find churches that will provide that. Many people seem unaware that one need not involve clergy when marrying, because the “marriage contract” is a civil matter, not a religious one. When a clergyperson pronounces that a couple is married, he or she does so “by the authority vested in me by the state of Maine.” However convinced some may be that they know God’s opinions, nobody’s religion can be allowed to dictate public laws.
Peter and Phyllis Rees