What is role of the state in marriage?

Reader Input
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In reference to Donald Adams’ letter (Reader Input, March 2), I would question his assertions as to the role of the state in marriage. The state’s concern in this institution is with property rights, health decisions, child protection and other civil matters. These are concerns that arise regardless of the couple’s sex, color or other traits. They are not set up to be arbiters of religious morality, nor should they be. His assertion that the state would have to legalize bestiality is logically flawed. No matter how fond one is of their pet the dog, they will not sue for a division of assets, health proxy, or custody of a child. (These are) things that a couple and their children need certainty in and protection of the law for. When a marriage license is issued no one tries to judge the fitness of the people applying. There is no litmus test as to if they are religious enough, loving enough, or possess the skills needed for a good marriage. The marriage contract is just that, a contract that certifies the responsibilities of the couple under the law and the responsibility of the state in relation to that couple. Morality does come into the equation but not a certain religion’s morality. There are certain societal norms that we have agreed on and voted into law. There are ways of acting that promote the common good and protect all people. No matter how you view the Bible or other religious tracts, they have never been voted into law. They may influence our viewpoint but so do many other traditions. If it were up to me, everyone would receive a civil union from the state. In the civil contract, all relations to the law would be agreed upon by the two consenting partners. Marriage would be reserved for religious institutions. They would be able to set rules without state input or interference, as long as they did not avow the breaking of the law. It would be akin to creating priests, ministers or other religious leaders. If different religions had different rules, it would not matter because these would be rites within this group and have no effect on the law. If you performed the rite of marriage, it would be to profess love and religious fidelity, not to form a contract. Since it is not up to me … remember, in regard to marriage to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Leo Meunier, Auburn