.- Doug Kmiec, a prominent Catholic who backed Barack Obamaâs presidential bid, has endorsed replacing marriage with a neutral âcivil license,â a proposal law professor Robert P. George called a âterrible ideaâ 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 âawkward,â it would âuntie the state from this problemâ by creating a new terminology that would apply to everyone, homosexual or not. âCall it a âcivil licenseâ,â he said.
âThe 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,â he said.
Kmiec said that a motive for Californiaâs Proposition 8, which restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman, was religious believersâ âgenuine concernâ that the California ruling imposing homosexual âmarriageâ was not addressing religious freedom issues.
Saying he was among those believers who had such concern, Kmiec noted the possibility that churches which donât acknowledge same-sex âmarriageâ could be subject to penalty, lose public benefits, or be subject to lawsuits âbased on some theory of discrimination.â
Kmiec argued âcivil licensesâ would address the question. He proposed the state withdraw from âthe marriage businessâ and do licensing âunder a different nameâ to satisfy government interests for purposes of taxation and property.
Under his proposal, âthe question of who can and cannot be married would be entirely determined in your voluntarily chosen faith community,â he added, saying that the proposal would reaffirm the significance of marriage âas a religious concept,â which has a much fuller understanding than is found in civil marriage.
Responding to Kmiecâs proposal, Princeton University professor Robert George said it was a âterribleâ idea and a âvery, very bad one.â
George told CNSNews.com that marriage is not like baptisms and bar mitzvahs but has âprofoundâ social and public significance.
âItâs a pre-political institution,â he said. âIt exists even apart from religion, even apart from polities. Itâs the coming together of a husband and wife, creating the institution of family in which children are nurtured.â
âThe family is the original and best Department of Health, Education and Welfare,â he continued, saying that governments, economies and legal systems all rely on the family to produce âbasically honest, decent law abiding people of goodwill â citizens â who can take their rightful place in society.â
âFamily 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,â George told CNSNews.com.
âI donât know where Professor Kmiec is getting his idea, but itâs a very, very bad one.â