I received this email from a reader:
Here in Minnesota, people will be voting on an amendment to ban same-sex marriage in November. Considering the fact that most voters are religious, isn’t voting on how other people have sex, or who other people can marry, an instance of forcing people to obey religious tenets that they don’t believe in?
What are your thoughts on this?
If you want to pass on a winding trip through my brain, I highly recommend skipping the next two paragraphs and proceeding directly to the bolded question for my answer to the reader’s question.
This next paragraph is entitled “In which Brianne spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME on the interwebs getting hopelessly entangled in trying to track down data on religious affiliation by state, survey methodologies, criticisms of said methodologies, correlations between voting behavior and religious affiliation oh and also a side trip to an intro to philosophy website to refresh herself on the difference between inference and deduction.” It’s a long but accurate and comprehensive title. Also, this was a silly way to spend an hour of my Sunday afternoon.
Within the reader’s question is an underlying assumption that most voters are religious. This sounds right – most of the population identifies as religious, so most voters are probably religious. But does anyone know of direct data that speaks to this? Since we don’t ask voters to report their religious affiliation at the polling booth, I don’t know how we could have any. But, (stand back…I’m going to try logic!) We can deduce from the 2008 US Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that a majority of Minnesotans are religious. However, I don’t think we can assume that that voters are equally represented by religious affiliation as detailed in this data at the polling place. BUT, this isn’t really the point of the reader’s question, which is:
Isn’t voting on how other people have sex or who other people can marry an instance of forcing people to obey religious tenets that they don’t believe in?
If the argument is made that gay marriage violates some set of religious principles, and then by that argument we deny homosexuals the right to enter into a state-issued marriage contract, now we have forced the state to take an action that is influenced by religion. And by handing the vote to the people of Minnesota, we are allowing popular opinion – which can be based on any damn thing, including religious conviction – to potentially decide to deny equal rights and protections to a portion of the population, without holding the voters accountable for the reason(s) that we are doing so.
I (duh) oppose religion influencing government. As a bit of an aside, I wrote more about why I don’t want to vote on gay marriage in November here.