The Intersecting Worlds of Religious and Secular Marriage

Perry Dane

in Law and Religion

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246601
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191697616 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

The Intersecting Worlds of Religious and Secular Marriage

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This chapter examines the legal encounter between the religious and the secular institutions of marriage. It considers two official texts — one civil and one religious — that figure in the current struggle in both spheres over the possibility of marriage, or some related status, for same-sex couples. The civil text is a statute of Vermont enacted at the end of April 2000, that allows same-sex couples to enter into, and have legally certified, something called a ‘civil union’, which the statute explicitly distinguishes from marriage. The religious text is a decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church USA. The decision authorizes ministers and congregations under its jurisdiction to perform ceremonies called ‘holy unions’ for same-sex couples — ceremonies that the Commission also emphatically distinguishes from marriage.

Keywords: marriage; civil law; religious text; civil union; same-sex couples

Chapter.  11508 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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