This week, I wanted to use my #asksteve feature to answer several questions I received via email regarding the Christian hypocrisy feature I posted last week. As I promised last week, this blog will not be turned into a social justice blog and this will be the last time I speak on this topic considering Kim Davis was released from prison yesterday. But, since I did receive the questions, I thought I would at least take the time to answer them.
- From reader Janelle (via email): You mentioned in your post on Kim Davis about the civil legal protections of marriage. What are you referring to exactly?
- Answer: I am referring to federal benefits or laws that were only afforded straight couples until same-sex marriage was made legal. Here are a few of the biggest ones. (1) Social Security – same-sex couples now benefit from spousal benefits that social security provides, including survivor benefits. (2) Health Benefits – Up until same-sex marriage was made legal, same-sex households were not able to get health insurance on their partner’s health plan. (3) Income Tax – Being able to file a joint return as married. (4) Inheritance Rights – Until same-sex marriage was made legal, long-term same-sex couples were not guaranteed inheritance of their dying partner because they didn’t have the legal protections (inheritance rights) that married spouses have. (5) Medical Decisions – This may be the most heartbreaking. Imagine a same-sex couple being together 30 years and one gets ill. Without the legal protections of marriage, the other person in the relationship would not be able to make medical decisions on their partner’s behalf and in some cases not even be allowed in the room because they would not be considered family. By being legally married, all of that has now changed. (6) Veteran Benefits – Same sex service members who are now married can participate in the VA benefits that service individuals and their spouses receive. There are a total of 1,138 federal protected benefits to marriage that all citizens can now participate.
- From reader Lois (via email): Do you yourself consider marriage a religious act?
- Answer: From what the United States considers legally married, no. In the eyes of the law, all marriages performed, even prior to the Supreme Court ruling was considered a civil marriage. Once the United States began issuing marriage licenses and registering marriages with the state and therefore providing the benefits listed in question one; that is all that is needed to be legally married. Let me turn it around. Let’s say you have an elaborate marriage ceremony in your church, performed by your pastor in front of family and friends but you never get a marriage license and that marriage is never registered with the state, then legally you are not married. That is why pastors/churches can never be forced to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony, because one is not even needed to be legally married under the law.
- From reader Shelley (via email): Do you actually agree with them jailing Kim Davis?
- Answer: Yes, only in the sense she broke the law. That is why I am confused why certain Christian folk are outraged and now claiming that Christianity is under attack and she was jailed for her beliefs. She was not jailed for being a Christian. She was not only held in contempt of court but also hit with abuse of power. While Kim Davis chose not to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, she also advised all the assistant clerks that work in the office that they were not to issue licenses either, basically commanding them to also break the law. She can’t do that without consequence. Now that she is out of jail and plans to go back to work, the first thing she needs to do is make one of the assistant clerks responsible for issuing all marriage licenses going forward so she doesn’t run in to the same situation in the future. She wouldn’t have been sent to jail if she would have done this from the beginning, but she chose to abuse her position and therefore she suffered the consequences.
- From reader Neil (via email): How should we deal with the religious persecution problem?
- Answer: Not being able to say, “ew, look, gay, ew, icky, ew, gross” in a public setting/forum without being called out for it is not religious persecution. I think American Christians need to step back and take a breath and see what is happening to Christians in the middle east. Those folks are being executed by ISIS for being a Christian. Having to issue a marriage license, baking a wedding cake or serving an LGBT individual in your business (if you’re a Christian business owner) is not religious persecution.
**Now back to nothing but Southern Gospel music.