A Southern Baptist lawmaker is proposing a truce in the political battle over same-sex marriage by getting the state government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses altogether.
Missouri State Rep. T.J. Berry, a member and deacon at First Baptist Church of Kearney, Mo., pre-filed a bill Dec. 1 to replace marriage licenses with “contracts of domestic union” as a remedy to controversies across the country involving government employees who object to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for religious reasons.
Don Hinkle, editor of The Pathway newspaper and the Baptist state convention’s staff member assigned oversight of public policy concerns, said endorsing Berry’s measure would be seen as acceptance of the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
“We believe that the Bible is literally the words of God, and we’re to keep his commandments, and he makes it very clear that marriage is to be only between a man and a woman.” Hinkle told the wire service.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, said Berry’s proposal would cause problems for same-sex couples in the state because the federal government does not recognize domestic partnerships in extending benefits regarding taxation, Social Security and military spousal benefits.
The Tenth Amendment Center endorsed the Missouri bill, saying it would effectively nullify both sides of a contentious debate.
“Removing state meddling in marriage would render void the edicts of federal judges that have overturned state laws defining the institution,” the state’s rights group said. “The founding generation never envisioned unelected judges issuing ex cathedra pronouncements regarding the definition of social institutions, and the Constitution delegates the federal judiciary no authority to do so. Constitutionally, marriage is an issue left to the state and the people.”