.- Doug Kmiec, a prominent Catholic who backed Barack Obama’s presidential bid, has endorsed replacing marriage with a neutral “civil license,” a proposal law professor Robert P. George called a “terrible idea” that would make the government neglect a vital social institution.
Speaking to CNSNews.com, Pepperdine University law professor Doug Kmiec said that although his solution to disputes over the definition of marriage might be “awkward,” it would “untie the state from this problem” by creating a new terminology that would apply to everyone, homosexual or not.
“Call it a ‘civil license’,” he said.
“The net effect of that, would be to turn over--quite appropriately, it seems to me, the concept of marriage to churches and a church understanding,” he said.
Kmiec said that a motive for California’s Proposition 8, which restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman, was religious believers’ “genuine concern” that the California ruling imposing homosexual “marriage” was not addressing religious freedom issues.
Saying he was among those believers who had such concern, Kmiec noted the possibility that churches which don’t acknowledge same-sex “marriage” could be subject to penalty, lose public benefits, or be subject to lawsuits “based on some theory of discrimination.”
Kmiec argued “civil licenses” would address the question. He proposed the state withdraw from “the marriage business” and do licensing “under a different name” to satisfy government interests for purposes of taxation and property.
Under his proposal, “the question of who can and cannot be married would be entirely determined in your voluntarily chosen faith community,” he added, saying that the proposal would reaffirm the significance of marriage “as a religious concept,” which has a much fuller understanding than is found in civil marriage.
Responding to Kmiec’s proposal, Princeton University professor Robert George said it was a “terrible” idea and a “very, very bad one.”
George told CNSNews.com that marriage is not like baptisms and bar mitzvahs but has “profound” social and public significance.
“It’s a pre-political institution,” he said. “It exists even apart from religion, even apart from polities. It’s the coming together of a husband and wife, creating the institution of family in which children are nurtured.”
“The family is the original and best Department of Health, Education and Welfare,” he continued, saying that governments, economies and legal systems all rely on the family to produce “basically honest, decent law abiding people of goodwill – citizens – who can take their rightful place in society.”
“Family is built on marriage, and government--the state--has a profound interest in the integrity and well-being of marriage, and to write it off as if it were a purely a religiously significant action and not an institution and action that has a profound public significance, would be a terrible mistake,” George told CNSNews.com.
“I don’t know where Professor Kmiec is getting his idea, but it’s a very, very bad one.”