The Broader Implications of Redefining Marriage
As marriage gets redefined to include homosexual relationships in various states, religious groups whose beliefs do not allow those relationships are given assurances that they will not be forced to perform them. For my part, I believe those assurances – they will not be “forced” to perform marriages for homosexuals. That does not mean that there will be no change for those groups. It won't be very long before the lawsuits start getting filed which will present an ultimatum.
In every state, clergy are typically empowered to act as agents of the state for performing marriages. This has typically been a matter of convenience. The couple gets a marriage license which is completed by the member of the clergy and witnesses in attendance. The clergy acts as a state agent when he files the paperwork with the local county officials to record the marriage, and this is where the problem will arise.
We have already seen cases where religious adoption agencies have been stripped of their license to operate as adoption agents of the state because their religious beliefs prohibit them from placing children into the homes of homosexual couples. It is not enough that other state empowered agencies are there that will; what the advocates of “change” desire is to either force religious groups to comply with their views or force them out operation. They will accept no other outcome. (Diversity always means others accepting their views, not their accepting the views of others.)
The same thing will eventually happen to marriage. Some people will think this is not an issue. The reality is that we – people of faith – must be prepared for the attack and for what we may be forced to do as a result of it. The case of marriage won't be as extreme as that of shutting down religious adoption agencies or defunding charities that won't refer women to abortion clinics. It will start out as a matter of inconvenience.
Once clergy are stripped of their ability to act as agents of the state, people of faith will be put into the situation of having to have two wedding ceremonies. Because the ceremony officiated by their clergy won't be recognized by the state, they will have to have to go to a city or county office with a couple of witnesses to have their marriage recognized by the state. They will need to keep track of two wedding dates, the real one and the official one recognized by the state. My personal belief is that the advocates of “change” are actually hoping that people of faith will not be willing to put up with this inconvenience, so they will forgo the religious ceremony altogether. I pray that they are wrong about this, but the weakness of actual religious observance these days could mean that they won't be.