Gay marriage fight now becomes a religious liberty fight

Reuters

Demonstrators protesting against a gay marriage bill hold placards outside of the Houses of Parliament in London June 3, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • The next offensive in this war will be government forcing individuals to accept this definition of marriage.

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  • Obama's contraception mandate has shown us how narrowly he views religious liberty.

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  • You're allowed to be religious, of course, but only on the Sabbath.

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Today's talk of tolerance and acceptance of gay marriage will soon give way to intolerance and rejection of those who hold a traditional view of marriage.

The next offensive in this culture war will involve wielding government to force individuals to accept the new definition of marriage, falsely invoking analogies to civil rights.

As a prototype, consider the assault on the liberty of Elaine Huguenin, the wedding photographer in New Mexico. In 2006, a couple asked her to photograph their wedding. When she learned the couple were lesbians, she declined, explaining that pursuant to her faith, she only photographed man-woman weddings.

The couple got a different photographer, but they sued Huguenin. In New Mexico, there is no gay marriage. In a recent poll, most New Mexicans said they oppose gay marriage. But the state outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.
 
The New Mexico Human Rights Commission found Huguenin had broken the law, and ordered her to pay $7,000. Huguenin, with the aide of the pro-bono civil liberties law firm Alliance Defense Fund, has sued and the case is now before state Supreme Court.

Try to live your own life according to traditional values, and the state will come after you, and compel you live according to its values.

Florist Barronelle Stutzman owns Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Wash. A gay man, who was a long-time customer of Arlene's, asked Stutzman to arrange flowers for his wedding. She declined, citing her belief that marriage is a union between a man and woman. Now Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is coming after Stutzman, saying, in effect, she must participate in this gay wedding.

How does Ferguson justify using the power of the state to impose his morality? "If Ms. Stutzman sells flowers to heterosexual couples," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes Ferguson saying, "she must sell them to same-sex couples."

But obviously Stutzman did sell flowers to same-sex couples, happily - that's why this particular client was a long-time customer. What she refuses to do is participate in a ceremony that the state calls marriage, but which she doesn't consider to be marriage.

This is why the civil rights analogy doesn't work. Hugeinin's case and the Stutzman's case aren't about small businesswomen refusing to serve gay people. They are about businesswomen refusing to endorse the novel definition of marriage.

Now a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has asserted that the only reason to object to gay marriage is to "demean" gay people, expect this offensive in the culture war to escalate.

President Obama promised that he won't try to force churches to administer gay weddings. That's very kind of him. But Obama's contraception mandate has shown us how narrowly he views religious liberty.

Maybe Obama or his successor won't use an executive order to rewrite the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, but government will go after churches all the same. The Cardinal O'Boyle Hall that your parish occasionally rents to outside groups? Better allow gay wedding receptions there or face the wrath of the state.

You're allowed to be religious, of course, but only on the Sabbath. If you dare step into the world of commerce or public service, the government will impose its morality on you.

You see it in Obama's rhetoric: he talks of "freedom of worship" rather than freedom of religion. It's a push to bring to heel all rivals of government. Liberal writer Kevin Drum made it pretty explicit during the contraception mandate debate:

"I'm tired of religious groups operating secular enterprises (hospitals, schools)," he wrote, "hiring people of multiple faiths, serving the general public, taking taxpayer dollars -- and then claiming that deeply held religious beliefs should exempt them from public policy."

The thrust: religious groups should only do religion--they shouldn't feed the poor, clothe the naked, educate the young.

And individuals who adhere to religions? Leave your faith at the church door. The Obama administration has argued in the contraception mandate cases that we lose our freedom of conscience the second we enter into commerce with other people.

The Left has long been the aggressor in the culture war. The crushing power of government has long been their weapon.

Many politically involved writers and advocates concerned with liberty and equality fought to open marriage to gay couples. Now that they've won, here's hoping that those who care about liberty will defend the liberty of cultural conservatives to live their lives according to their faith.

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About the Author

 

Timothy P.
Carney
  • Timothy P. Carney helps direct AEI’s Culture of Competition Project, which examines barriers to competition in all areas of American life, from the economy to the world of ideas. Carney has over a decade of experience as a journalist covering the intersection of politics and economics. His work at AEI focuses on how to reinvigorate a competitive culture in America in which all can reap the benefits of a fair economy.


     


    Follow Timothy Carney on Twitter.

  • Email: timothy.carney@aei.org

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