Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mixing Up English

What's the problem? The words 'to marry', 'married,' and 'marriage' are perhaps poorly chosen words for what are legal designations as well as rituals or actions often performed in churches in our society. You wouldn't think a simple eight-letter English word could cause so much trouble, would you?

The mixing of two definitions of 'marriage' - one legal and one religious - has resulted in Californians passing Proposition 8, a law which prevents gay people from enjoying the right to equal treatment under the law, including the right to be legally married.

James Madison, often thought of as the Father of the United States Constitution, once said “...I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

In this case, the mixing of meanings of 'marriage' in our language has led to a decision that seems based on religious interpretations rather than consideration of the U.S. Constitution.