The Center for Inquiry, an atheist group based in New York, is suing the state of Indiana for not allowing what they call “secular celebrants” to solemnize weddings.
According to state law, only religious leaders and government officials can sign marriage certificates, which the humanist group contends is unconstitutional.
The crux of their position, according to a spokesperson, “is that a person of faith can have a leader of their world view solemnize that marriage that the nonreligious do not have.”
Frequent use of the term “solemnize” might be misleading, since there is absolutely no law preventing an atheist leader from leading a marriage ceremony.
As court records provided by the state Attorney General’s Office explain, “nothing precludes plaintiffs … from celebrating their marriage with exactly the ceremony they see fit, and nothing prevents CFI-trained celebrants from ‘presiding’ over such weddings.”
In light of that clarification, the only point of contention seems to be whose signature is on the marriage certificate.
Marriage, which most believers contend was established by God, has always been a deeply religious event.
Of course, atheists should be able to marry and involve anyone they wish in the ceremony. We cannot allow virtually anyone to declare such marriages valid, though.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Attorney General explained that the law exists to “regulate marriage while accommodating religious groups and providing alternatives for nonreligious organizations.”
Advocates for marriage law changes claim they seek equality, which is a lofty goal on the surface. American equality, though, doesn’t mean that everything is the same for every citizen. Rather, it protects the rights of each individual to be treated equally under the law.
Nothing in our Constitution allows someone to choose anyone they wish to validate a marriage, which is another point included in the state’s court brief.
The state’s documents also refer to the atheist group’s “relatively short history and organizational indifference to marriage” as further reasons it should not have the authority to solemnize marriage just because it wants to. The brief continues, “With marriage solemnization, the State has chosen to remain sensitive to the traditional practices of groups for whom marriage is a special, indeed commanded, institution — a rationale that does not apply to CFI.”
Some groups are not satisfied if they do not feel slighted in some way by the majority. The truth is, though, there are far less actual cases of discrimination against minority groups than at any other time in history.
For that reason, CFI and other fringe organizations find inequality where it doesn’t exist and then argue for a change.
B. Christopher Agee founded The Informed Conservative in 2011. Like his Facebook page for engaging, relevant conservative content daily.
Photo credit: reuvenim (Creative Commons)