Move On?

Move On? June 15, 2016

SCOTUS has spoken. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Time to move on.

This insistent message comes from leaders in both parties, but Michael Needham, writing at The American Interest, says that “moving on is not so easy for some Americans. Moving on wasn’t an option for the Catholic Church a decade ago, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court imposed a new definition of marriage equating same-sex unions with those between husband and wife. After that decision, the Church was forced to abandon its adoption services due to laws requiring that it place kids with same-sex couples in contravention of its teachings. Moving on has not been an option for Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of an Oregon bakery who were forced under state anti-discrimination law to shut down their business because they could not in good conscience violate their Christian faith by participating in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Looking ahead, moving on is not an option for religious schools all across the country” who fear, reasonably enough, that their tax-exempt status is in jeopardy.

The push for same sex marriage will create “a culture that makes good people and institutions out to be evil, teaching our children that the friendly Catholic neighbors across the street are morally suspect, that the religious immigrant family warrants suspicion for bringing alien, socially conservative values into the community, that those bearing Bibles shouldn’t be trusted by Americans who believe in the gospel of tolerance.” Advocates for same-sex marriage don’t care: “Their message is unambiguous: Good luck to believers if they hope to earn a living or pass their faith on to their kids. Participation in commercial, political, and civic life in America will hereafter be limited, if the Left gets its way, to those who accept the new orthodoxy. Or, as declared by Gawker writer Rich Juzwiak: ‘F— those people. F— their myopic ‘good will,’ f— their views on this issue that are anti-equality, f— their misguided sincerity, their deeply held beliefs, their refusal to see what’s right, their insistence on hiding behind some passages (and ignoring hundreds of others) from their beloved Bibles.’”

Needham targets the GOP for is reluctance to make an opposing argument: “Republicans, ostensibly the party of social conservatism, are not well positioned to advance the argument for tolerance of dissent from the new cultural orthodoxy. That is partly because it’s an argument the party’s political professionals don’t want to make. According to a 2013 National Journal poll of Republican political ‘insiders,’ 75 percent indicated that Republicans should support gay marriage or avoid the issue. And even those who recognize that the debate over freedom of conscience is inevitable are engaging only begrudgingly. Former RNC spokesman and Romney campaign senior adviser Kevin Sheridan said recently of the downside of the debate over religious liberty, ‘I think it’s foolish, but I think they want to beat this drum. So yeah, good luck to them.’” He points to Republican-sponsored amicus briefs submitted for Obergefell, and concludes, “When even the supposed allies of social conservatives endorse the fundamental premise on which the argument for illiberalism depends—that opposition to the redefinition of marriage is akin to racism—it becomes very hard for freedom-of-conscience advocates to get much of a hearing, much less robust advocacy, within the Republican Party.”

That Republican politicians have positioned themselves as the champions of corporate America further compounds the problem. When Angie’s List and the NCAA boycotted the state of Indiana for its RFRA, the two organizations had more in common than ideology: Both are beneficiaries of massive taxpayer subsidies. The subsidies had not made them subservient to the state’s political leaders; quite the opposite. Indiana politicians had invested too many hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in Lucas Oil Stadium to have the NCAA snub the venue over the RFRA controversy. They had invested too much political capital in crafting an $18 million package of subsidies for Angie’s List to let the company take its business out of state. When the pressure came from these and other businesses, Indiana’s Republican leaders proved that in their relationships with corporate America they were the supplicants, not the patrons.

The GOP won’t be able to dodge the issue, though: “However much politicians want to avoid this fight, it is not one they can wish away. The alternative is not the status quo, but a slippery slope leading to the end of religious liberty as we know it. For all the Left’s insistence that opportunistic conservatives have for years been picking a battle over marriage for cynical political advantage, this is simply not true. Conservatives never sought a debate over marriage; rather, it has been the self-styled progressive Left that has labored relentlessly to move the goalposts. What at least some conservatives have long recognized, however, is that these questions cannot be ignored; the slippery slopes all too often derided by critics are very real.”

In the wake of the mass murders in Orlando, Republicans will be even more likely to muzzle opposition to same-sex marriage. The calls to move on, or to fall into line with the LGBTQ surge, will get more intense and more frequent. More Republicans will conclude that any opposition to same-sex marriage or other dimensions of the gay movement is nothing more than bigotry and animus. SCOTUS has, after all, so decreed. Needham will still be right: For many of us, moving on won’t be possible, and for many the GOP capitulation on this issue will be seen as an act of betrayal.

Let’s put a theological spin on this: Suppose, for the sake of argument, that God created marriage and intends human beings to abide by His design. Suppose too that God is alive and active in human affairs, and that He takes offense when people brandish His name while ignoring His word. Suppose too that God is not mocked. What might we expect from this unmockable God in the face of GOP temerity and vacillation? Might we expect turmoil and confusion? Should we be surprised if that upheaval comes bearing the name Trump?

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