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Marriage is a constitutional right for all people; vote 'no'

In the debate of the definition of marriage, there are few things that make me grit my teeth more than hearing the phrase "traditional marriage." Marriage has always changed.

In the debate of marriage there are three histories we must consider; those being the social, religious, and political histories.

Marriage has always been a social institution. It has been used for peace, strength, to carry along bloodlines, to increase property size and wealth, and to bolster political and social power. Marriages were arranged until the 19th century, when there was another social shift, and people wanted to marry for love. It has not "always been between one man and one woman." There are records and evidences of same-sex marriage in Ancient China, the Roman Empire, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and over 130 Native American tribes.

Today, same-sex marriage is recognized fully in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. The Mexican federal government and its states also recognize it. Recent polls show that over 60 percent of the population supports same-sex marriage here in the United States, up from only 12 percent in 1990.

Though there is a role that religion plays in marriage, marriage is not an institution of religion. Many governments before ours operated under divine law as their political philosophy, which means their secular laws are derived from their state religion. Our government is different in that we subscribe to natural laws, where our laws are instituted to protect our rights, which are given to us naturally. To compliment this, our Founding Fathers prevented a state religion from being established.

As a result of divine law, it is easy to misinterpret the role of religion and government in marriage from a historical standpoint. Where government was, religion was. But the fact of the matter remains, that even in deeply religious societies, marriages were legal contracts between families that were registered with the state. This tradition goes as far back as Ancient Egypt, if not further.

Don't forget, women were once considered property that could be compensated for if "damaged" (raped) through a fine paid to the husband or father. This concept is even found in the Christian Holy Bible, the Jewish Torah, and the Muslim Quran. Marriage is still a binding legal contract, which is exactly what makes marriage legally re-definable, and is the reason that we have prenuptial agreements and divorce settlements in this country.

There are a number of facts that we have to face. First, civil unions were established because civil marriage was denied to same-sex couples. Second, there are no substantive differences between the legal unisons themselves, only the legal terms, who is allowed to unite, and the benefits that are given to one and not the other. Third, civil unions and the denial of marriage (and subsequently rights and benefits) create a separate and very unequal status for the homosexual community.

The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, reported that same-sex couples lose 1,138 federal legal rights through this blatant, textbook discrimination. Those rights include the right to take a leave from work; to care for a family member or spouse if they are sick, bury a family member or spouse if they die, and care for a newborn. Also, to sponsor a spouse for immigration purposes, the right to access family portions of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other means-tested programs, a wide variety of medical benefits, visitation rights, burial rights, veterans rights, taxation, pension protection, insurance, joint state-federal programs, and many, many more.

Herein lies the major unconstitutional aspects of denying marriage to same-sex couples, as the constitution requires legal equality for all people. My position is the very same as that of Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico and current Libertarian candidate for President. That position is that marriage is a constitutionally afforded right for all people. Vote "No" on the marriage amendment. -- Justin Vega, Fargo