NOM's Peters on Why You Can't Separate Religious and Civil Marriage


NOM's Thomas Peters is interviewed in this OSV article on the proposal to "separate" religious and civil marriage:

"...Could a clearer separation between civil marriage — a union sanctioned by the state — and those blessed in a religious setting calm religious freedom concerns by presenting a compromise that both sides of the issue could live with?

... Several gay-rights organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, highlighted the civil-religious marriage distinction. Marriage equality, they said, is simply the government recognizing their unions, whether a church wants to bless their partnerships or not.

... But that creates a false distinction in what marriage is, said Thomas Peters, cultural director for theNational Organization for Marriage, which opposes any efforts to define marriage as anything other than one man and woman.

Peters told OSV that trying to separate marriage from its religious and civil dimensions does not resolve religious liberty threats or prevent marriage from becoming unmoored from its foundation in the natural family.

“I don’t think this distinction between civil and religious marriage makes any sense practically speaking,” Peters said.

“This is a temporary distinction proponents of redefining marriage introduce and then, once civil marriage has been redefined, they then set about collapsing the two categories into each other again,” Peters said. “In European countries that have redefined marriage, the next step is to require all individuals [including ministers] who can issue civil marriage licenses that they also grant them to same-sex couples as well.”

In late March, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the European court also said that if same-sex couples were allowed to marry, then any church that offers wedding ceremonies would violate anti-discrimination laws if they refused to also marry same-sex couples.