Can Pro-and-Anti Gay Marriage People Co-exist?

Still stuck in my writer’s block, the only way I could write a column this week for First Things was to format it as a playlet — a little one-act thing called “Suitable Recommendations” — wherein I try (and I have no idea whether I succeed) to showcase a story we’re increasingly seeing being played out as gay marriage becomes more common: the business owner whose conscience can’t let him or her provide services to a same-sex couple planning a wedding.

Gentleman: That’s some religion you’ve got there. Really? Jesus doesn’t want you to do flowers for my wedding? I don’t think Jesus could get behind this, because he would never be this hurtful! You’re betraying all the years we’ve known each other, and really hurting another person—two people; no, really a whole group of people—and then hiding behind Jesus; you’re letting Jesus take the blame for your hate. You have to hate me, because Jesus!

Florist: [Quietly] I don’t hate you.

Gentleman: Oh, this is what you call love? That’s some crazy kind of love; here, kid, have some cotton candy because I love you; oh, and don’t mind that razor blade I put inside! You’re rejecting me, you’re rejecting my marriage—it’s like you think I’m a second-class person.

Florist: Well, I don’t think that! I never could, and I wish you did not feel that way, because the last thing I want to do is to hurt you; that’s not what I want. Don’t you think that if I could make you happy, I would? It would be a lot easier for me to just set up your order and take your check, than to say “no” to you. In truth, I don’t especially want to say “no” to you. I want everyone to be happy and have just what they like; it’s why I’m so good at my job! But I can’t say “yes” to you, not if I’m being true to myself, and to what I believe God wants from me.

Gentleman: So, this is what you think God wants of you? He wants you to hurt people and tell them that their love and their families don’t matter? Well that’s news. I thought Jesus said we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

Florist: I don’t think God wants us to hurt each other. I think he wants us to live in truth, though. Jesus did tell us to love others as we love ourselves, but he said first and foremost to love God with all of our hearts and minds and souls. I know that’s hard to understand, because you don’t believe what I believe, which is that marriage is ordained by God, and meant to be between a man and a woman. That’s the truth.

Gentleman: That was truth a million years ago!

Florist: It was truth two years ago . . .

Gentleman: Times have changed, honey, you need to get with them. Whatever you think the Truth is, it’s not truer than love. God is love, right?

Florist: Yes. God is love.

Gentleman: And we’re in love, and we just want to celebrate that and build our lives together. God is in all of that.

Florist: God is everywhere and in each of us, but that doesn’t mean we are always right with God. You’re saying God is love; I agree. What is love, though? Does love only say “yes”? Do I not love my son when I tell him not to touch a hot stove?

Gentleman: Oh, here we go! Now you’re going to tell me I’m going to hell! Cue the cloven hooves!

I linked to the actual stories, — the florist, by the way is being sued by the state for not selling to a gay wedding. I urge you to go read the thing and check out the comments section which is pretty interesting. Some people feel I made the gay man too sympathetic, some thing the florist is too sympathetic. So…I’ve managed to annoy almost everyone. As ever I’m more interested in the larger implications down the road. If states can sue someone who is trying to honor their own conscience, what does it mean for us as a church, later on?

I wanted to go a lot more deeply into the question but you know — it’s a column — I knew I was pushing First Things’ limits with 1400 words. Also, I didn’t have much time to invest in it. But I might revisit this — actually turn it into a project. It might be an interesting exercise for me to try writing further into each perspective, as I try to break my logjam!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • TheodoreSeeber

    “If procreation extends through having a “functioning adult human being”, doesn’t that mean that a gay couple can procreate by adopting and raising a child, or by raising a child which is the offspring of a lesbian parent? ”

    Theoretically maybe.

    This guy says in practice NO:
    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/07/10474/

    And since he’s actually had the experience, I’ll take his experience any day.

    And yes, Adoptive Parenting is indeed second class parenting, which is obvious to anybody who looks at it; but some adoptive parenting is far more abusive than others.

    Just like autism is a second class life.

  • Roki

    Actually, according to that Wikipedia article, same-sex marriages were not recognized by Roman law, but the rituals of marriage were used by some same-sex couples, apparently with one of the couple taking on the gender-role of the opposite sex.

    The other examples in that article are vague at best. They seem to refer to solemnizations of same-sex relationships (not always sexual in nature) that are distinct from marriage.

    In other words, your source appears to support Gail Finke’s assertion. For whatever Wikipedia is worth…

  • Neil Cameron

    Her hatred of gay people or lack thereof is not the issue and is not what she is in court for.

    It is about the fact that she will contract for a heterosexual wedding, but wont for a homosexual wedding.

    In her flowers for weddings service, she discriminates on the grounds of sexual orientation. The laws of Washington State specifically say that such discrimination is not permitted. Any cancellation of the contract on the grounds of sexuality is not a legal cancellation and is deemed void. The contract remains enforceable.

    article: http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-20698-the_cake_wars.html

  • Brian English

    If sexual exclusivity is not a requirement of marriage, then why shouldn’t polygamy be legal? It is a very simple question that arises from your assertion, so why don’t you answer it?

  • Neil Cameron

    Brian, historically, opposition to homosexuality has been universal.
    We seek equality with society. We cannot have equality with society if by refusing to do business with them.
    For a minority of 3 – 5% of the population to cut themselves off from the society they are seeking to be accepted equals within would be stoopid.

  • Neil Cameron

    Here’s a new stereotype for you USKensington:

    50% of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce. 48% of all children born, are born out of wedlock (96% of those to people between 20 and 40, so its not a teen pregnancy thing!).

    Conclusion: heterosexuals hate monogamy and will do anything to avoid it, or get out of it.

    Is that accurate? Or is it a sweeping generalization made about an entire population, based on the actions of some within that group?

    Yes there are some slutty homosexuals. Yes there are some anti-monogamy homosexuals. Yes there are even some homosexuals who want all marriage banned. There are even serial killer homosexuals.
    That does not mean that all homosexuals are those things or believe those things. We are not identical clones, we have deep diversity among us – that is why we use the rainbow flag as our flag.

  • Neil Cameron

    In some marriages, perhaps.
    But if it is ONLY there for the children, does that mean that married couples with no children don’t have monogamy?

    No. Monogamy is ONLY there if it is wanted, and it is ONLY there if the married couple put it there.
    It is ONLY there because the couple willingly made a vow of commitment to the exclusion of all others.

  • Brian English

    “Unfortunately for your argument, this particular case (Arlenes Flowers) the woman knew from the outset, entered into the contract, took payment up front. Then cancelled just before the wedding and deemed the payment to be forfeit.”

    This is untrue.

    “The couple only sued for their money back. The attorney general and the ACLU, however, sued her for breaching the laws of Washington state.”
    This is untrue as well.

  • Neil Cameron

    Adam, almost every movie that is released is done so in a great cloud of publicity.
    The only bad publicity is no publicity.

    Hollywood is a master of inserting their product in the media, even it it means rumours of affairs, divorces, abortions, DUI’s, drugs, opposition to Israel, opposition to palestine…. whatever they can use they will use, if the publicity it can generate is big enough.

    This is no different.
    However, this being such an emotive and divisive issue, it will be interesting to see if it backfires on them.
    Will picking on a small minority, when that small minority has the backing and support of over 50% of the population actually work? Will associating their movie with a divisive issue that many are so sick of hearng about, actually lure people into the cinema?

    If it doesnt work and if it actually backfires, will Cards supporters argue that the gays destroyed the movie?
    Will they sue for damages, thereby generating a massive amount of media coverage, just in time for the DVD release?

  • MeanLizzie

    Just FYI, everyone. Comments close automatically after 72 hours on this blog, so you might want to sew things up.

  • Sven2547

    OR we could act like intelligent human beings and only tolerate things that don’t harm others.

  • Brian English

    First, there was no contract. Your recitation of the facts in another post was incorrect.
    Second, Washington can pass any law it wants, but if it violates the First Amendment, or RFRA, it will be overturned.
    Third, I realize you think that everyone who opposes gay marriage is a Klansman, but I don’t think a majority of the people believe that. Do you think driving these bakeries, florists and photographers out of business is the best approach?

  • avalpert

    That’s like saying autism is a second class life

  • ortcutt

    Sexual exclusivity is not a requirement for marriage. When I got married, they asked whether I was of age to marry and whether I was already married, but they never asked about what my fiancee and I had agreed with regard to sexual exclusivity. I also know of no marriage that was voided by the state over the objection of the parties involved because the parties were not sexually exclusive. What any of this has to do with polygamy inside your mind, I guess only you can say.

  • ortcutt

    I feel viscerally sickened when I read someone claiming that infertile adoptive parents are in a lesser or sham marriage or that adoptive parenting is second-class parenting or that their family is a second-class family. There’s a real sickness of the soul involved if hatred of gay people would lead someone to these conclusions. You really need to reevaluate your life.

  • ortcutt

    I don’t understand what you hope to achieve by making claims that are transparently, provably false. The Racial Integrity Act criminalized all marriages between white and non-white persons regardless of the reproductive intentions of the married couple. Nowhere in Chief Justice Warren’s opinion for the Court does he suggest that the right to marry is a right to breed. Making things up isn’t any way to debate an issue constructively.

  • Brian English

    “article: http://www.wweek.com/portland/…”
    While it turns out this was not an Onion article, since it is a secular journalist writing about religion, it is only slightly above that level.
    This writer appears to believe that: (1) all Christians reject divorce; (2) all Christians reject embryonic stem cell research; (3) all Christians follow kosher dietary restrictions (I really can’t figure that one out); and (4) all Wiccans are Satanists.
    The question they should have asked is the one I posed elsewhere on this board: “Will you make a cake for me to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of an adulterous affair?” That would have shown hypocrisy, since I know of no Christians who condone adultery (although these days I could be wrong about that.)

  • TheodoreSeeber

    Maybe that’s because, as a person with Asperger’s, I can tell you that autism IS a second class life.

    Those comments have nothing to do with gay people, and everything to do with knowing the difference between being raised by your birth parents and being raised by adopted parents.

    I’m not saying that adopted parents are bad parents. I’m saying that there is a natural connection of a child to their birth parents that adoption can’t erase, and which will always be felt, even if only subconsciously by the child.

    There is a reason why adopted children go looking for their birth parents when they are in their 20s.

  • Brian English

    It is pretty obvious, isn’t it? If marriage does not require sexual exclusivity as a standard feature–the spouses can have sex with other people–why shouldn’t the spouses be free to marry one or more of those other sex partners?

  • BHG

    Here is my question: when did we become as a society a place that would force people to act agains their convictions in something this trivial? This is NOT a concerted effort by all the landlords in an area to refuse to rent to gays, blacks or Jews. It’s a single baker declining to bake for a single event–and there are undoubtedly plenty of other places to go get the cake. This is not about concerted behavior that is against social interests–it is about forcing conformity. WHO SUES OVER A WEDDING CAKE?????

  • MeanLizzie

    Comments automatically close after 72 hours.


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