By Matt Jenkins
Republican Candidate for the Seventh Congressional District
Yesterday, I attempted to make my stance known on legal issues surrounding marriage and how the 14th amendment to the constitution, regarding equal protection, requires citizens to be treated equally.
From response to my comments, it became clear to me that there is confusion in the definitions of marriage for civil purposes. This statement is intended to clarify the definitions and my stance on the issue – based on those definitions.
There is a misconception that the government definition of marriage must be accepted by everyone. It does, but only for certain purposes. The definition of marriage as far as government is concerned is, “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law”; or “the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.”
Using this definition under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, everyone must have equal protection under law. But there is a religious definition of marriage that sits apart from the legalistic one, based in the religious doctrine of their faith.
Marriage, for this purpose, has been defined as; a “Biblical Covenant between a man and a woman for the purpose of pro-creation”. But not all churches agree on this definition, or the purpose or limits of marriage. Just as not all churches agree on divorce or annulments. Nor do they all believe there must be children for it to be a true marriage.
If the government uses any religious definition of marriage, that violates the free exercise of religion – and the establishment clause of the Constitution. The decision regarding religious marriage ceremonies, and the rules and regulations of said marriage, should be determined by an individual’s church.
Under our system, government can’t establish religious doctrine. For this reason, I stand by my comments that I wrote endorsing same-sex marriage. I did not intend to tell anyone what their religious beliefs should be. But I intend for the government to stop illegal and unconstitutional discrimination against law abiding people.
I teach my children the Golden Rule. I believe this issue is between individuals and God, and government should not be involved in approving of or disapproving of such unions. My personally held, religious doctrine on marriage should have no bearing on the legal issues regarding marriage as defined by government, nor should any other Representative’s.
The fact remains, the Constitution demands equal protection under law. Perhaps it would be ideal if government were not concerned with marriage at all, but the reality is that when children, property and end-of-life issues are involved, government is needed because custody, divorces, and probate issues are decided in the courts.
This is a complicated issue, and one that deserves more attention than can be allowed here. I am currently working with a national organization on a plan, more than just talk, on how these issues of equality must be addressed. When complete, this plan will be placed on my website and my social media pages for review.
I think it is time that a reasonable Republican stands up to say there are more important issues attacking our Constitution. It is time to stop enforcing religious beliefs through legislation and concentrate on restoring everyone’s quality of life. Those are the issues I will fight for when elected.
I was taught to love God, my Country, my family, and my friends and neighbors, and I have made my home in the 7th Congressional District. I do, and that’s why I’m running.