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God Versus Gay
Congress has made a law...
"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
...but the U.S. Supreme Court can prevent Mormons from having two wives?
Whether you think the practice is as ancient as the Old Testament and not in the interest of a civil society, is immaterial.
There is no right for you 'not to be upset' if another man worships a frog. Or if he wishes the company of other men.
And there is no such thing as "society".
Society, in this context, indeed in any context, is a collection of different minded individuals.
The Mormons are part of "society." So are all the rest.
U.S. Supreme Court
Obergefell v. Hodges
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled in the Obergefell v. Hodges case allowing for the right of individuals to marry each other, even if they are of the same sex. The matter aside, that marriage is and ought to be a private contract between individuals and not governable by judges or Congress or any apparatus of government, one point was well missed. The point of polygamy and how is applies to the free exercise of religion.
Should Marriage be "Privatized"?
Whether you are a religious conscientious objector, refusing to kill based upon your belief that such a thing is murder, even if it serves to save your own life or the lives of your countrymen, is not at issue.
If you refuse to work on Sundays, as is your right, even if you are non-religious, is not the issue.
The issue is the fact that in America, even today, in the year 2017, religion is regulated by the U.S. Supreme Court and Congress.
But not just religion.
The Imbalance of Power
The organs of government, no longer balancing the powers, have overstepped their design parameters. They have usurped the power of the people and the states.
The High Court is fast becoming a power broker, equal only to the Office of the President, which is fast installing Czars, unconfirmed by the Senate, answerable only to the Chief himself. Add to that, a Congress, which has little respect for individual liberties, especially when the power brokers, be they other large religions or wealthy citizens, ply them with graft.
"...the right NOT to sell you a cake..."
Same Sex Marriage
But let us focus on thrust of the High Court of these United States and its handling of the same sex marriage issue.
The idea of "Gay Marriage" is repugnant to many religions, but they too have no right "not to be upset."
Whether it is against a "religion" to marry the same sex is immaterial. One may associate - marry - any sex.
On the other hand, if you practice same sex marriage and a particular religion does not condone such a practice, anyone in that religion has a right to deny you the privilege of entering his or her private property or business...or church.
The same can be said of a non-religious person. He or she has the right to not sell you a cake or allow you into his private establishment, if it is against his wishes. You may not contest this right based upon some secular assertion that any and all religion is dogmatic refuse. That is immaterial. It has no standing. Move along.
That said, many religious and non-religious companies and organizations have no outward qualms about same sex marriage. There are no signs at Walmart denying entry to same sex couples.
Sure, there are those who will voice their displeasure, but one cannot limit another's decision to be annoying. Many will simply keep their beliefs to themselves and go on about their business, as humans are want to do.
Just as one cannot decide for the religious, how they must interpret their particular codified doctrine, as it applies to plural marriage, one cannot dictate that marriage is only between a man and a women.
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints
But if you are Mormon, a follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and you want to follow the doctrine as set forth in your Book, to have many wives, you are stymied. By not having many wives, you will forfiet your place in the hereafter. By having many wives, you will go to jail in the now.
The choice is: obey your God or go to jail. And if you should be released from jail and continue to practice your religion, you will also continue your Earthly jail time.
Polite Society - a Myth
By what right can anyone say that practicing one's religion, even if it may upset another person's sensibilities in polite 'society', is illegal?
There is no such right. Society has no rights. Only a person has rights.
Such laws, against the freedom to practice one's religion in the manners outlined above, must be struck down. They have no place in the modern world. In the human world.
The same should be said of those who practice the absence of religion. Both groups have the same rights.
Having a right to marry the same sex or many of the opposite sex, are corollaries. A majority or fifty-one percent of society or a Supreme Court, cannot rule against one's right to be free to marry the same sex or many of the opposite sex. Marriage of these types does not limit other basic freedoms to own property and to live at liberty. That is the only test.
Private marriage, as it should be, must be removed from the mandates of bureaucrats, judges and dictatorial democracies. Romance and religion are separate from governance. Better yet – the courts are not and should not act as theological commissions, much less matchmakers.
Reynolds v. United States
When Congress enacted a federal statue criminalizing polygamy, it set the maximum fine at $500.00 and/or five years in prison.
In the 1879 case of Reynolds v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, invoking ancient English history, when said nation was essentially Catholic, having a national church, without freedom of religion. The court labeled the practice of polygamy "...odious among the western nations of Europe..." and that when the Mormons began to practice said marital rights, based upon their religion, in the United States, as citizens of said nation, the Court likened the practice to similar rights afforded the Asians and Africans.
In other words, the High Court of the U.S. was making decisions based upon the then un-free United Kingdom's past practices, predicated upon Catholic doctrine, and labeling Asians and Africans as ancient social deviants for having done the same.
What a balanced decision.
Polygamy was belittled then, like "Gay Marriage" was labeled by many until 2015, as an "offense against society". Again, who is this society? Apparently, the Mormons, being U.S. citizens, were not part of this "society".
The homosexual citizens' rights have been affirmed, however. Are we to wait another 100 years for the groups puritanical Americans, a majority of whom pressured Congress to enact the anti-polygamy laws, to finally and unequivocally state that they acted against the tenets of the Constitution? Have they read it?
Has the U.S. Supreme Court read the document or is it 'interpreting' it, in an non-'originalist' manner? Meaning, moving away from endowed rights of individuals and toward the altruistic-collectivist societal covenants of the Middle-Ages.
If I were a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints I'd be in Washington right now saying "Hey...what about us!?"
The same goes for those sleighted by the acts of government employees, citing religious leanings, which have no place in government, when refused requested documents - marriage licenses - as if they should even be required from a lowly bureaucrat in the first place!
Polygamy or Same Sex...does not Matter!
This being said, whether one personally condones polygamy or same sex marriage, is not the question. It is none of our business. It is none of your business. It never has been.
From a religious standpoint, one certainly has the right to practice what one's religion requires. But not interfere with another's religion or marital issues.
From a non-religious grounding, it is the same.
One's marriage is separate from one's government, just as one's church is also separate. And that is the rub.
Whether a Clerk in Kentucky, who is obliged to uphold the rights of the people - is not the issue. A government employee's religion or lack of religion is not the issue. A government employee should not have the power to "grant marriages" in the first place. There is no such "grant". The sooner we see this, the better off we will be.
The only instance where a government can become involved in the one's marriage is when it comes into conflict with other rights as enumerated in the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Absent this, one is free to associate as one's conscience demands.
Strength form Plurality
And finally, as wounded as one may become, by words, one cannot withdraw the rights of others to belittle and denigrate another's choices.
Dogma. Ridicule. These are the faces of freedom.
Lest we err on the side of intolerance and therefore shame, the very nature of tolerance and the bulwark of justice is the ability to draw strength from our differences.