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.


  1. Randy E King
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    This whole proposal to change the meaning of the word "Marriage" is a full frontal assault on religious liberty in that it mandates the separation of religions that view sexual depravity as immoral from marriage as it relates to civil matters; while supporting those religions that see no distinction between the two.

    Marriage corruption supporters like to claim this to be a Separation of Church and State issue and they are right, but it is they who are violation the spirit of the Separation of Church and State - not their victims. SOP for all Sociopaths is in their quest to create willing victims they inevitably turn to blaming their victims for the crimes they themselves are committing.

    Civil: relating to what happens within a state or between different citizens or groups of citizens

    How could anyone in their right mind contend that mandating the separation of the Abrahamic faiths from society be anything but a full frontal assault on the freedom of religion...?

    Tolerance: the acceptance of the differing views of other people, e.g. in religious or political matters, and fairness toward the people who hold these different views

    Marriage corruption supporters are anything but tolerant. As previously noted; these miscreants will have to change the meaning of every word in the English language just to lend an appearance of acceptability to their depravity, but even then anyone with a good set of eyes can see that the Emperor has no clothes.

  2. Fitz
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Agreed...It is a direct philosophical attack on the very meaning of fundemental social insititution. The most radical and deceptive acts I have seen fomented in my lifetime.

    One way to spot Orwellian tyranny is by the adoption of whole new terms.. This "civil marriage" is a term never heard before. A distinction that never had a difference with majority religious understanding.

  3. GZeus
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    So will Churches grant divorces now? Or do you still have to go to Court?

  4. Posted June 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Propaganda by redefinition of words is always the tactic of choice when the target civilization has been prepared in advance to believe that nothing is really true.

    "This is how I feel about it" is verbal confirmation that reality has been successfully destroyed in a given mind, and replaced with subjective fantasy.

    Thank God there are still a great many Christians who simply are immune to all such blandishments (not because they are necessarily smarter, but because God is necessarily smarter); also significant numbers of non-Christian believers and also non-believers who have seen through the propaganda to the dark fascism which informs the pseudo-marriage movement at its very core.

    Oh well, all the back and forth is probably about done concerning the pseudo-marriage decoration of war on reality....

    Time to settle this.

    November is winning time.

  5. don
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    GZEUS that is a great idea. seeing how there is only religious marriage, there should only be religious divorce. If you marry as a Catholic then you can't divorce. If you marry in Islam, the husband just says I divorce thee three times, and so one (although divorce in some religions gets a little bloody.) This is the perfect logically addition to NOM's insistence on religious control of state marriage.

  6. Randy E King
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    The current Federal marriage law recognizes no difference between religious or civil marriage. Marriage corruption supporters are demanding that the current all inclusive law be scrapped in favor of a policy that discriminates against religion by mandating androgynous marriage for all.

  7. Little Man
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Nope. Sorry to disagree with you, Peter.

    I applaud your insight, but you have not defined religious marriage correctly, and have not shown how the separation of only 'religious' and only 'civil' marriage leads to problems:

    '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.'

    If we define 'religious' marriage as simply a ceremony officiated by a minister approved by some church denomination, there's still two possibilities:

    a) The minister will sign a marriage license obtained by the couple, and

    b) The minister is officiating as representative of his denomination or 'religion', without a marriage license from the State.

    In case a), that's a marriage by the State and by the official denomination (another State approval), and so happens the 'minister' is not just a 'Minister of Peace', but is qualified by the State to perform an official civil ceremony.

    In some other countries, religious ministers who are members of a denomination are NOT allowed to become 'Ministers of Peace'.

    In case b), it can be a spiritual and social ritual with even more significance for the couple and the family, than marriage by the State.

    I've even heard a minister say a marriage not licensed by the State is AGAINST THE LAW. It is not. The State cannot possibly intrude into a religion. What happened in Utah regarding polygamy is that Utah would not be admitted into the Union of States (USA) unless they adhered to monogamy in an official manner. Still, some 'Mormons' continued with their polygamous religious marriages, but only one wife would be the spouse according to the State. This presents a very clear picture of how 'marriage' can be 'religious', 'civil' (by the State), or both.

    There's no useful way to define 'religious' marriage unless it is freed from the State's marriage license.

    But that is not to say that a marriage cannot have BOTH 'religious' significance and 'legal' significance.

    - o -
    In fact, i would argue SSpseudo-marriage advocacy stems from a 'religion' itself. In the same way, some R. Catholics, etc. argue to impose their religious views. But either one is civil and perfectly lawful, if the approach does not break any laws, and neither can claim to be free from religious or philosophical premises. All moral codes stem from philosophical premises.

    The question is: which ones will the State adopt as the 'secular' norm. Answer: we vote.

    Civil marriage is institutionalized through voting and representation of voters. All religions and philosophies (same concept) can take part, and are encouraged to do so, as a fundamental Right.

    Just look at the myriad of official current POLITICAL PARTIES in the USA, to see contrasting viewpoint which are legally permitted to contribute to the secular laws and procedures.

    - o -
    If the State benefits for married couples is what it is all about, we miss the point about what marriage really is in Christianity: It is a set of vows optimally between Bride and God, and between Groom and God. (Institutionalized polygamy was never prohibited in the Bible, but it is not 'optimal': See, 1 Timothy 3:2 'A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;'
    This passage would have prohibited polygamy in the same paragraph. It doesn't. )

    What gives marriage PERMANENCE is our devotion to God, not our devotion to an ever-changing spouse, who grows older every day (but so do we) and provides reciprocal acceptance, and generates appreciation that someone is willing to 'live' with us in an awesome complementary way.

    That is also why civil marriages 1/2 of the time end up in divorce, because often (unconsciously, perhaps) it is all about 'me', getting a nice house, financial security, social standing. But it is 'hollow', and is swept away with any kind of financial hardship. It is only a 'contractual' civil marriage, built on a foundation of sand, for the sake of privileges. That is why it is under attack. Government is not doing a good job, because government itself does not understand 'civil marriage'.

    It is true that the government does a lousy job regulating civil marriage. That's why it is so important the government cannot, by law, try to regulate 'religious' marriage...

    - o -
    Not all divorces are a result lack of love. So called 'straight' people (as opposed to 'crooked' people? :) ) cannot always be blamed for their own divorces:

    Relocation of a job,
    death of an offspring,
    intrusion by family relatives, bad economy,
    corporate takeovers,
    food-stamp dependency promoted by government,
    climatic catastrophes,
    lack of extended family moral support,...

    these are all pressures on a marriage. If the marriage is simply a contract which seemed to guarantee comfort and status, it won't stand the pressures of life a-changing.

    But if it is a 'religious' marriage in the Christian sense, at least, the pressures actually will make the marriage STRONGER - those pressures are taken as God making changes in our lives, not our partner's fault.

    Of course it can be BOTH a 'religious' marriage and 'marriage by the State'

    Why can't it be both, or only one of those? It can.

    Why would we critically require the State's blessing (and regulation by two-faced politicians) to BE married 'in submission to' God?

    ['In the presence of God' is not enough. Obviously, we are always in 'the presence'.]

    Religious, Christian 'marriage' is a special covenant relationship. (Same-sex) friendship is another Biblical special covenant relationship, but these are not one and the same or 'equal', even if sexual.

    Why can't 'marriage' be BOTH, 'spiritual' and 'civil'? One pastor said: 'Oh, because otherwise you can easily get out of the marriage.' (actually, it is easier per a marriage license - about $400.)

    Actually, he should have said: 'Oh, because then us ministers wouldn't have so much legal power, and we wouldn't be 'needed' as much.' Marriage is not entrapment, i would say. If it is not voluntary, you can't fix it.

    Marriage is a blessing, a completion of the human pair, in all ways naturally possible, therefore fundamentally spiritual and therefore 'religious'.

    'Civil marriage' is simply government's way of supporting the natural pattern of sexual unions distinct from friendship.

    - o -
    Congress indeed can vote to specially support opposite-sex civil marriage. But it can only do so Constitutionally if it has a Public Purpose which excuses the discrimination. It is then consistent with the 5th and 14th Constitutional Amendments.

    But, i will let the Supreme Court say it. Let's just make sure we elect US Presidents who will appoint objective, rather than corrupt, prejudiced Justices to replace those who have served our country for some many years in such difficult positions.

  8. Louis E.
    Posted June 21, 2012 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    I am not religious,civil marriage is the only kind I can enter into in good conscience...and only if it is exclusively opposite-sex.

  9. Little man
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Excuse me, Louis E. ... if you are not religious, then what do you mean by your 'good conscience'? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? Government can impede morality, but cannot created it.