How Gay Marriage Really Theatens Religious Freedom

How Gay Marriage Really Theatens Religious Freedom December 3, 2012

Recently I asked whether evangelicals should consider, while holding fast to their views on God’s design for human sexuality and marriage, dropping their insistence that the American legal system should reflect our Judeo-Christian convictions and exclude same-sex marriages.  I followed with Ten Things I Believe About Evangelicals and Gay Marriage — and a fantastic conversation ensued in the comments boxes as well as other blogs.  I invited friends of various persuasions to engage the issue, including Greg Scott of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

I’m often asked whether the legal establishment of same-sex marriage really presents a threat to religious freedoms.  Greg works for a top notch legal organization that labors in the trenches of the religious freedom battle, so he knows the field well.  He sent the following piece and I’m proud to publish it as a guest post:


Religious Freedom Isn’t Just for Clergy

By Greg Scott

“Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” — “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act” — “Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act.”

Sound like perfect laws, right? Who could be against “religious freedom” and “civil marriage” and “marriage fairness?” No decent person, to be sure.

California activist Geoff Kors offers a typical statement in support of this kind of bill:

Opponents of marriage equality have falsely claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force clergy to violate the tenets of their faiths. This bill should alleviate any concerns that restoring marriage equality will require clergy to perform weddings inconsistent with their faith.

So what complaints remain? Aren’t these bills a signal from marriage redefinition advocates that they understand the impact of redefining marriage has on religious freedom and have provided a freedom-friendly middle ground? The short answer is: No. These bills—out of Maryland, Illinois, and California, respectively—and their titles are political war room products that are meant only to cloud the discussion.

Despite their cleverly worded titles, none of these bills do anything to protect religious freedom. Instead, they offer the religious freedom equivalent of an arsonist promising to preserve the last row of trees before burning down the rest of the forest.

The only freedom these bills “promise” is that ministers who are bound to abide by clear Biblical teachings on marriage won’t be coerced by the State to perform conscience-compromising marriage-like ceremonies.

Of course, ministers should be protected from this. But here’s the punch line: the First Amendment already guarantees freedom from this brand of coercion.

It’s unclear who’s making the claims Kors references and which some have called “silly fears.” Alliance Defending Freedom, the leading legal organization defending marriage and free conscience, hasn’t made the coercion of ministers a centerpiece argument. In the hundreds of briefs filed at the various stages of dozens of cases, in news releases, commentary pieces, media interview, and mailers—everywhere we speak—it’s all but absent.

But religious freedom is undoubtedly being threatened in many ways by the same-sex activists’ aggressive campaign to establish a supreme state-enforced orthodoxy that citizens must obey in order to freely and fully participate in public life. And there are painful consequences for failing to obey.

Consider Jim and Mary O’Reilly, proprietors of the family-owned Wildflower Inn. In 2005, the Vermont human rights commission approved Mr. O’Reilly’s practice of disclosing to potential same-sex civil unions clients that he is a Roman Catholic who believes in the Biblical definition of marriage, but would nonetheless host such an event. Despite acting in good faith in following the commission’s guidance, the O’Reilly family was sued by two women who wanted to have a same-sex wedding reception on the property. A now-former employee misstated the family’s policy, denied the request, and directed the mother of one of the women to her on-the-side wedding planning business.  The O’Reillys never denied the request, and only found out about it when it was already too late. Even so, the human rights commission sided with the two women.

Up against the limitless resources of the state (and the ACLU) Jim and Mary saw their fate’s writing on the wall, and chose recently to end the ordeal. They settled for $30,000 although they’d done nothing wrong.

So what changed between 2005 and 2011 when the family was sued? We need not speculate. The commission’s designated representative Robert Appel said during the case that he “thought the [2011] matter was of significance from the human rights perspective” because “the law had changed in whole” since we “now have marriage equality” in Vermont. So essentially, a business owner’s mere expression of thoughts and beliefs about marriage that don’t align with the supreme orthodoxy will land him in a heap of trouble.

How many of our Founders would recognize an America in which a man may not share his beliefs because someone may feel “unwelcome” by hearing a different viewpoint?

The O’Reilly family is only one of many examples of how the elevation of sexual preferences, up to and including the redefinition of marriage, threatens religious freedom, free speech, and free conscience.

What was once a given—that Americans are free from government control over who may practice, and when they may reference, their faith—has now largely been taken. Our framework of freedom, within which we were free to publicly debate, agree, disagree, criticize, or opt-out, has rapidly been replaced. The elites have supplanted the dusty 18th century ideas of the Declaration and the Constitution, insisting we be bound by alien concepts and invented categories of liberty heretofore unheard of in American history.

We don’t have to dig up a one-liner from an obscure philosopher to demonstrate this. One of the shining legal lights of same-sex activism is Chai Feldblum. Ms. Feldblum, Georgetown Law professor and EEOC commissioner, has long advocated a new concept of freedom in which “sexual liberty” always wins over religious freedom, and that a recently conceived thing called “identity liberty” should trump freedoms historically protected under the First Amendment. She has also written that we should “not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT people” without defining what “adversely affect” means. In practice, mere offense or some other claimed psychic damage is enough to flip that switch.

Thankfully, as long as the First Amendment means anything in America the idea that clergy may be forced by the state to solemnize sexual unions in violation of conscience may remain a far-off threat. But it’s not a “silly fear.” If people begin to believe that there’s no more to religious freedom than your minister escaping a state mandate that he violate the dictates of his faith, we risk losing every freedom up to, and eventually including, the only freedom these marriage redefinition bills allow ministers to keep.

Greg Scott is Senior Director of Media and Public Relations for Alliance Defending Freedom.

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  • Javier

    AS a Lutheran Christian whose church blesses same-sex marriage, I believe that if you are going to engage in the business of providing public services, you cannot discriminate. Businesses require privileges and licenses from government to operate, and if you don’t want to provide services in a fair and equitable manner to all citizens without prejudice, don’t go into business. I don’t think there should be exceptions for those who would not discriminate against interracial couples; neither should there be exceptions for businesses that discriminate against same-sex couples. Prejudice is bad business.

    • Merle Wilson

      Is the Church called to “engage in the business of providing public services,” or first and foremost to witness within our communities to the Person and teachings of Jesus, even when those run counter to our culture? As a Presbyterian pastor, I see and convey our calling as offering Christian weddings, as opposed to generic weddings as a public service. The PC(USA)’s Book of Order (which still defines marriage as b/w a woman and man) requires that at least one of the two people is a professing Christian, so it seems logical as well as scripturally sound to move forward only if all three of us are on the same page, i.e. that Christian marriage is the purpose of a Christian wedding.
      We are called to be public servants in the sense that we are to be servants of all, but using business language to define what the Body of Christ is obligated to do is starting at the wrong place. And if a church views itself as a business, my guess is it probably is. But we cannot be both.

      • ymoore

        Churches are exempt from such public accommodation legislation. Churches don’t have to marry anyone that they don’t want to. For example, the Roman Catholic Church won’t marry a Catholic and a Protestant (at least it used to not; I’m really not sure what its policy is on that today) and some Protestant churches won’t marry couples unless both are Christian. Anti-discrimination laws regarding same-sex marriage pertains to businesses, not churches. Churches can legally discriminate on race, gender, homosexuality or anything else it, for whatever reason, wants to.

  • The situation described here sounds more like a misapplication of the law than a problem with the law itself. I’m not saying things like this never happen, but if that’s an accurate impression, then surely the better approach is to reform the way the law is applied? As for the “many examples” discussed at the links above, most of them seem to be about private businessmen who didn’t want to photograph or whatever gay weddings.

    I’m not convinced that’s kosher, personally. What would we think if some caterer in the 1970s had refused to serve a mixed-race couple because he believed the Bible condemned miscegenation? Our attitude here should be the same: unless we’re comfortable with merchants and other private businesses discriminating in the clients they accept (which I’m personally not, but some may be willing to bite the bullet on that one), the same principle should apply to homosexual couples. Obviously, that’s not what’s going on with the O’Reilly couple which is why I believe that law suit is just a bad application of the law rather than proof of a bad law.

    I’m also concerned by the way you present the Alliance Fund here. Obviously they have real expertise here but based on the cases they’ve taken up in the past they also have a clear bias toward thinking cases like this do impose on religious freedom. (It seems their mind is already made up, or at least they’re predisposed to lean one way rather than another on this issue.) In the interests of honesty, isn’t this the kind of thing that should be mentioned to visitors to your blog?

    • Josh Lyman

      People being opposed to mixed race marriages is different to people being opposed to same sex marriage because…

      Err… because… errr..

      Because gay is icky!

      • JoFro

        The Bible does not call miscegenation an abomination! The homosexual act on the other hand is! So no, he wouldn’t be able to use the Bible to defend his beliefs. He could though use 19th century Darwinian evolutionary beliefs but even that has been updated since then…

        • Josh Lyman

          The basis of anti-miscegenation was a religious belief that the practice was wrong. The judge who originally tried Mr and Mrs Loving stated:

          Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. and today there are people who oppose “race-mixing” on religious grounds.

          As such, the argument about whether a gay couple should be refused service by a business is much about religious freedom as the question of whether a business should be able to refuse service to a mixed race couple.

          The issue in law is never whether someone’s religious beliefs are “correct”, since that is not a path you want a government to go down. So whether someone is “able” to use the Bible or not is not relevant in law at all. Indeed, the Bible holds no special place in American law, and neither should it. After all, WHICH version of the Bible would that be? So, what the Bible calls something is irrelevant to a discussion of the law.

          • Josh Lyman

            Blockquote fail! Sorry.

        • Josh Lyman

          Replying again, because the last one made no sense!

          The basis of anti-miscegenation was a religious belief that the practice was wrong. The judge who originally tried Mr and Mrs Loving stated:

          Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. and today there are people who oppose “race-mixing” on religious grounds.

          As such, the argument about whether a gay couple should be refused service by a business is much about religious freedom as the question of whether a business should be able to refuse service to a mixed race couple.

          The issue in law is never whether someone’s religious beliefs are “correct”, since that is not a path you want a government to go down. So whether someone is “able” to use the Bible or not is not relevant in law at all. Indeed, the Bible holds no special place in American law, and neither should it. After all, WHICH version of the Bible would that be? So, what the Bible calls something is irrelevant to a discussion of the law.

          • Can a business owned by a believer in Christian Identity refuse to serve black people? And if not, why not?

          • Josh Lyman

            Can a business owned by a believer in Christian Identity refuse to serve black people? And if not, why not?

            No. Because that falls foul of anti-discrimination laws.

          • Correct. Specifically (on a Federal level), it falls afoul of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It probably falls afoul of a state equivalent, as well.

            Currently, sexual orientation is not a protected category under federal anti-discrimination laws, and legalizing (or federally recognizing) SSM would not change that.

            Sexual orientation may be a protected category under some states’ anti-discrimination laws, but certainly not in all states. But again, federal recognition(or state legalization) of SSM would not change that one way or another.

            Where state law protects marital status from discrimination, federal recognition (or state legalization) SSM would make a difference–without DOMA (which, like it or not, is probably unconstitutional), states are required to give full faith and credit to other states’ marriages. So in a state where marital status but not sexual orientation was protected by anti-discrimination laws, federal recognition of SSM would make a difference.

            Also, it is important to note, that not all “anti-discrimination laws” are the same, or have the same application or the same effects. There is no blanket anti-discrimination law covering all kinds of discrimination against every category of person, and there never will be (it wouldn’t make sense).

  • Joe

    Its high time for the privatization of marriage. Marriage is a pre-legal contract. The U.S. government does not have the constitutional authority to define this ancient cultural institution its widely ceded role in doing so notwithstanding. The government should strike the word ‘marriage’ from the law maintaining the legal apparatus around what was “marriage” instead for broadly defined legal “unions.” It seems likely that polyamory and zoophilia would find legal status in that necessarily broad definition (anyone who scoffs at that idea But these are preferred outcomes to the government finding itself, in the generous view, obliged to adjuticate deeply held beliefs or sexual preferences, or gladly, coercively wielding ever inflating power around and within bedrooms and houses of worship in the more cynical. Christian believers should be free to voice their convictions about homosexuality and homosexuals, while they are still interested in the rather conservative old-fashioned idea of marriage, should be free to find whatever official who prefers whichever Biblical construct or lack thereof to marry them. Basic laws protecting physical well-being are the only contribution the government should make to the conversation on homosexuality.

    • The U.S. government does not have the constitutional authority to define this ancient cultural institution its widely ceded role in doing so notwithstanding.

      States certainly do though.

      • Joe

        Which article of the Constitution are you referring to?

        • That would be the Tenth Amendment.

        • FYI, the only limitations the Constitution places on state police power* are the Tenth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause. Otherwise, the Constitution does not limit or define what states can or can not regulate.

          *In case you are allergic to clicking on links, state police power is the general power of a state to “regulate behavior and enforce order within their territory for the betterment of the health, safety, morals, and general welfare of their inhabitants.”

          • Joe

            Because of the pre legal nature of marriage I don’t see the state as being given the authority to define marriage simply because the Constitution doesn’t assign that task to the federal government. Marriage should not and really cannot be defined by any government. Marriage has been historically defined by social units who freely adhere to certain beliefs that should not be codified in a given political unit if there is disagreement between that unit’s social subsets. There is disagreement in the U.S. so the task of definition should be de-codified and left to social units.

          • Historically when? Everything that existed in prelegal societies was at one time regulated purely by social custom. Hunting. Hunting is prelegal. Nevertheless, states have the authority to regulate it.

            Whatever, you can “see the state as being given” whatever authority you want. Except where specifically constrained, state police power is indefinitely broad. This is not even a debatable issue of law. You can dislike it, you can think that states should exercise restraint, but that doesn;t change howthe limits of our legal tradition actually work.

            Find me some support for your argument that prelegal constructs are outside of the purview of state police power. Go go go.

          • Joe

            Oh but you misunderstand. My position is that marriage “is a contract that should be recognized and applied by the courts, but that the government has no business, in general, decreeing who may or may not make the contract or imposing any prior conditions, as licensure does.” Regulate hunting! Regulate domestic unions! Let social custom set the prior conditions.
            But just for you. John Witte Jr. (Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law, Alonzo L. McDonald Distinguished Professor, and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University School of Law.) writes,
            “In his Two Treatises of Government (1690), John Locke called the marital contract “the first contract” and “the first society” of men and women to emerge from the state of nature. Only upon this preexisting foundation of stable marriage contracts was the broader social contract built, and thereafter contracts to form governments and other associations.”
            “After all, it was 16th-century Protestants, not the 18th-century Enlightenment, who gave the state the power to govern marriage and family life.”

          • …how does that in any way support your claim that the prelegal nature of marriage means states should not have the power to regulate them?

          • Joe

            Looks like you missed some things. Do I have to spoonfeed the implications of the above quotes? It would seem so. Regulation is your deal. Its something I don’t have a problem with. I wrote that domestic unionhood (what is now “marriage”) “‘is a contract that should be recognized and applied by the courts.'” Definition however is outside the purview of regulation for two reasons.

            The legal theorist who’s ideas most thoroughly shaped the Constitution recognized that marriage is THE primitive contract. As such it is self-evidently antecedent, independent, and self-defining. It existed before laws were necessary for its regulation or definition. It is pre-legal.

            Second it is recognized that Protestants handed civil authorities the regulation of marriage (It had been overseen in its entirety by canon law.) in the 16th century hardly imagining what sexual “innovations” awaited but exemplifying why those “innovations” would be deeply polarizing.
            Since Locke shows that marriage emerged un-defined by governing law from human society and inspired the broader social contract which included governance, marriage today can (and should) easily be recognized as so fundamental as to escape the need for definition by a historically subordinate entity. And since our historical memory tells us from whom, how and to whom the authority to regulate marriage was bestowed, (regulation co-opted the authority to define with little care because of the social environment’s homogeneity) it follows that the same entity which gave the authority can adjust or narrow the same (not speaking of Protestants here but of the people and processes behind proper democratic function). And since you seem to be missing this point I will say it again. That does not mean no regulation by the states. It means no definition.

    • Josh Lyman

      OK.. so we get government out of marriage. The government no longer recognises marriage in any form. A citizen meets a foreigner. The two fall in love and get “married”. By what criteria is the foreigner granted or denied the right to live in the USA?

      • Joe

        The same legal way they are now but this time under the properly legal term “unions.” The government can help legally link people who have no blood bond but this does not translate into the preposterously over reaching, self-granted, and really non-existent power to “define marriage.”

        • Josh Lyman

          Oh. I see.. you are just engaging in a semantic argument. I am not really interested in that.

          • Joe

            If this is just semantics, why weren’t gays happy with civil unions?

          • Josh Lyman

            Because the push for civil unions for gay people (please avoid using the term “gays”, many find it offensive and dehumanising) is not usually accompanied by a call to remove the term marriage from government control and make it a private matter for whatever organisations want to call it. Instead it is proposed as a seperate, “but equal” entity to run alongside marriage. And we all know how well seperate but equal has worked in the past, don’t we?

          • Joe

            Thus the importance of the term. It is the difference, for you, between civil equality and separate but equal.

  • Basil

    The Wildflower Inn did not fall afoul of any laws on same sex marriage, it fell afoul of Vermont’s laws which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accomodations. That law predates the law on same sex marriages, (as it does in most states), as 14 states have come to accept that gays should be protected from discrimination in employment/housing/accomodations just as racial minorities, women, religious minorities, the handicapped, etc… are protected. Vermont’s Human Rights Commission rightly found the “my empl0yee did this without my knowledge” argument to be completely lacking in merit. Either the owners of the inn were being dishonest in blaming the employee, or the were just neglient in providing basic training in the requirements of state law. More generally being inhospitable is pretty stupid way to run a business in the hospitality industry.

    The supposed (and completely meritless) arguments about “religious freedom” were previously used to justify racial segregation — particularly the ban on inter-racial marriage (as Josh pointed out above) — this is part of our country’s historical record. We have solid constiitutional protections for religious beliefs, that is beyond reproach. But there is no constitutionally protected right to be a bigot in the public sphere, and to try and impose the costs of that bigotry upon the disfavored group.

  • Basil

    Part 2 (trying to avoid the spam filter): Am I the only 0ne who finds these perorations about the mythical “dangers’ and “consequences” of same-sex marriage to be kind of irritating? I find this fixation, on the “consequences” of treating gays equally, to be off-putting, since there is no serious consideration given (and none shown) to the very real consequences for gays of the discriminatory treatment that so much of the Christian community seems so intent on preserving.

    What I find more telling is the fact that you can devote 3 long blog posts about the mythical horrors of same sex marriage in the U.S., but cannot seem to find the time to say something about the pending law in Uganda (drafted at the urging of American evangelicals) imprisoning, and possibly executing, gay Ugandans.

    • Sus

      From the 3 long blog posts asking what is wrong with SSM, it seems that the objections are about polygamy and sex with animals. The ignorance is astounding.

      I haven’t read that the pending Uganda law was drafted at the urging of American evangelicals. I’m going to research that now. I can’t imagine people who think of themselves as Christians would be in favor of that.

      • Joe

        Sus, where in these posts are you seeing that the main objection to SSM is bestiality and polygamy? Your ignorance of the essential thrust of the arguments forwarded above is the only ignorance suspect here. Also, does it matter what you or any other Westerner thinks about social legislation in Uganda? That is their business from cultural considerations to which you have no access. Has not Western imperialist superiority done enough damage and aren’t we all in support of the independent development of foreign and exotic cultures?

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Basil, I’ve posted one guest post (as a part of a broader conversation I’m hosting) on the “consequences” and in the other two posts I’ve actually been making the case *for* evangelicals no longer fighting against the legalization of same-sex marriage. So please read a bit more carefully.

      I’ve been working on a piece on the Uganda bill but I don’t know if I have anything new to say on it. It apparently was not “drafted at the urging of American evangelicals” but some of the organizers of an event that featured these very marginal evangelical pastors talking about the homosexual agenda were also involved in drafting the bill. But the evangelical pastors did not urge the drafting of the bill, had nothing to do with drafting the bill, and condemned the bill after it came forth. I can say that evangelicals can and should always oppose discrimination of this kind, but I’ve already said that, and American evangelical leaders have been very vocal and unanimous in opposing the bill anyway. About the only new thing I think I could say is to look at some of the rhetoric used by those (again, very marginal) pastors and talk about how irresponsible it is. It certainly, in this case, played into a culture they knew nothing about and led to some terrible consequences.

      • Basil

        I read your articles carefully, and you were definitely not making an argument for evangelicals to stop fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage. You presenting as one of two hypothetical options and asking your (evangelical ) audience what they thought of each of those options. That’s not exactly making the case. If you want an example of Christian leaders who “made the case” — leaders who do not support same sex marriage theologically, but support it as a legal option– you might want to see some of the ads from the recent Maryland campaign — specifically those cut by Rev Donte Hickman and Rev Delman Coates. In subsequent interviews I read, they specifically drew a line between the legal and religious, a line which most evangelicals seem to quite self-righteously ignore (and which I quite frankly resent since it is an infringement and insult to my own deeply felt religious beliefs).

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          Heh. Read all the conservative evangelicals who are responding and tell them that I’m not making a case. I’m honest that I haven’t totally settled on the right course of action yet, but I am indeed making a case, in an exploratory way, in a way that’s sensitive to my audience.

          • Basil

            I had further comment on Uganda, but hit your spam filter (which really hates me personally — what did I do?). Anyways, Scott Lively (who is a World Net Daily whack-job — but then again, Rick Santorum just joined WND) is the father of the kill-the-gays bill in Uganda, and of stoking a particularly virulent homophobia there. He was the main speaker at the 2009 conference that hatched this law. Bryan Fisher (AFA) and Tony Perkins (FRC) have both spoken out recently in support of the proposed law (Perkins talked about Uganda being “prospered by God”) and neither of them are “marginal” figures — particularly Tony Perkins (who is on the new shows all the time as the go-to religious conservative talking head). At least he is consistent, since he also wants to reinstate the sodomy in the US (so that gays can be imprisoned again), and is opposed to anti-bullying which save the lives of gay kids otherwise driven to suicide. American Evangelicals have much to answer for generally with respect to the LGBT community, and it is particularly distressing that they have successfully exported a virulent form of homophobia to Uganda, which has already claimed the lives of gay Ugandans (most notably, the activist David Kato).

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Can you show me Perkins’ support of the Uganda law? I’d really like to see that. And calling Uganda “prospered by God” is not enough. Uganda really did some extraordinary things with regard to AIDS, and a country can be “prospered by God” even if it’s still the case that there’s a stupid and immoral law proposed by some people within that country.

            Scott Lively is not the “father” of the kill-the-gays bill, and the bill was not “hatched” at the conference. Even his blog post at the time shows that he spoke on the dangers of the gay agenda, and was only tangentially informed of interest in some kind of proposed law, which at that point was not defined and did not include the severe punishments that were eventually included in the bill.

            If I understand him correctly, Perkins does not believe that Lawrence was decided correctly, not in the sense that he thinks there should be sodomy laws but in the sense that he thinks the terms used against Lawrence were overly broad.

          • Basil

            Box Turtle Bulletin and the Advocate both had coverage of Perkin’s tweet (on November 27). I tried to post the weblinks, but hit your damn spam filter (it really must hate me!!) Anyways, the full text of his tweet was:

            “American liberals are upset that Ugandan Pres is leading his nation in repentance — afraid of a modern example of a nation prospered by God,”

            I disagree with your assessment of Scott Lively’s role — he didn’t draft the law (Ugandan legislators, many of whom were present at Lively’s speeches, did that), but he was the inspiration behind it.

            As for Perkins and Lawrence — he was interviewed on this and was really clear — he thinks the sodomy laws should have been upheld. Gays got jail time because of those laws (including civil right leader Bayard Rustin). In fact, there are still arrests made in states that have those laws on the books — those arrests are eventually overturned because of the Supreme Court ruling, but that doesn’t stop local law enforcement from sometimes trying to enforce those laws (usually out of ignorance about Lawrence v. Texas). It causes the victims a lot of problems, and even leaves them with an arrest record.

            I agree with Dan Savage’s assessment of Tony Perkins — to paraphrase — he likes his gays dead or in jail. That is his track record. The relevant question is whether the evangelical community wants to be silently complicit in that encitement to bigotry and violence, or open in its opposition to it. So far, it has been mostly silent.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Oh geez. Savage’s statement is ridiculous. You’ve *got* to be kidding me.

            Anyway, Basil, I’ll send you an email so that you can send me some links and get around the spam filter. Sorry it’s being so touchy.

    • Joe

      Basil, there is a constitutional right to be a bigot in the public square. It is the first amendment and it is disturbing to see either ignorance or neglect of that right from those marching in lockstep to the ultra sensitive orthodoxy of modern liberalism. The mainstream media and the homosexual lobby in a massive marketing and political effort with their notorious wealth and with the congruent efforts of many large corporations and the government have thoroughly foisted their beliefs about homosexuality onto the general population, efficiently muscling public opinion into compliance with a cultural blitzkrieg.

      • Joe

        cont’d. Along with this storied effort is the fact that the majority of evangelical Christians, the group most often cited as opponents to homosexuality, don’t harbor personal enmity against gays or at all begrudge them their basic rights but simply disagree with the behavior and find that there is much more to a person than their disagreed upon sexual preference.
        With these facts your “very real consequences of discrimination” look more like scattered instances predictably sought and prominently displayed by the left-leaning media establishment. These unfortunate instances of illegal discrimination against homosexuals should never inhibit, contra mainstream academic censorship, the much needed discussion about the implications of broad acceptance of homosexuality, negative and positive for society going forward.

        • Joe

          cont’d. It is actually unclear what society wide effects broad acceptance of homosexuality will have since this Western social experiment is still historically infant. There are many possible good and bad outcomes and both should have a place in the discussion about what the future will look like. But in one possible interpretation of homosexuality from an equally as liberal Darwinian framework, aren’t homosexuals selecting against themselves by willfully removing themselves from genetic contention?

          • Joe

            cont’d. And if more and more of a society or herd removes itself from genetic contention wouldn’t that society/herd run into greater and greater risk of decline? Further since homosexuality would in theory eliminate any genetic trace of itself how is the cognitive dissonance so easily maintained to allow for arguments that homosexuality is genetic? Where is the much asserted rational liberal critical thinking?

          • Josh Lyman

            OK.. so many silly claims, so little time. I will do my best:

            1) Comparing the fact that people now generally disagree with you on the morality of consensual sexual activity between adults to the Blitzkreig of Nazi Germany? Really? The fact that people now disagree with you is something you want to bring up Nazi references about?

            2) I think it matters a great deal what happens to people in Uganda. If someone is executed for being gay in Uganda, that grieves me deeply. If someone is put in prison for being gay in Uganda, that grieves me deeply. My sense of empathy and shared humanity does not stop at national borders.

            3) It doesnt matter a great deal to me if someone harbours personal emnity towards gay people or not. What matters more is their actions. And if their actions support candidates who call for the criminalisation of homosexual activity, then that grieves me. If they support candidates who defend the denial of marriage rights to gay people, then that grieves me. Saying that they don’t hate gay people doesnt make it any better. I am sure that the original trial judge didnt hate Mr and Mrs Loving either.

          • Josh Lyman

            4) We are not talking about illegal acts of discrimination against gay people. We are talking about the legal, government sanctioned discrimination of gay people. When a hospital will not allow someone to see their partner because they are unable to prove that they are next of kin, that is not illegal. That is the law. Next of kin status MATTERS. The ability to make joint decisions about the welfare of children MATTERS. These are legal issues, not examples of illegal discrimination

            5) You don’t understand how genetics works. You don’t understand how sex works. Gay people are able to have children. There are a number of ways they can do it. And genetic things that are far more effective in preventing reproduction still exist. Tay Sachs, for example is pretty close to totally effective in preventing someone producing viable offpring, and yet it is a genetic disease that still exists. So, given that, AND the fact that homosexuality does not prevent reproduction, you are wrong here as well.

          • Joe

            1. The grip of the left on media power which has been pumping support for SSM into the culture at every turn and the rapidity of the change in attitude toward homosexuality is suspiciously coercive, clearly relying heavily on conscious and subconscious conditioning to psychologically program the masses, which is just successful marketing after all. I was disingenuous to insinuate Nazism so thank you for pointing that out. It is unclear whether this incredibly rapid social change is a symptom of deep instability or human innovation at its best. It is clear that the power and strategy behind this coercive effort resembles a military campaign. I am suspicious whenever I see so many power players in bed and see public opinion so determinedly bent to the will of elites.

          • Joe

            2. A sense of (enlightenment defined) empathy and shared humanity was the justification for so much historical western imperialist superiority. This is no exception. We ignore the historical sciences at our peril.
            3, 4. If Basil meant only “government sanctioned discrimination of” (I’ll assume you meant against) “gay people” and “voting for candidates who oppose SSM” than I’ll assume its what would have been said. Instead it was “very real consequences of…discriminatory treatment.” Maybe you should speak for yourself instead of for you and Basil. Decidedly more vague and more than accommodating to my response. Further, you must have missed “or begrudge them their basic rights.” You know I have forwarded an argument for marriage privatization and legal recognition of whatever unions people want to have recognized so how would these concerns of yours be problematic for me? They wouldn’t?
            5. Thank you for your thoughts on genetics. Your point is taken and it helps move the argument forward for me. Still, because only wealthy gay couples will be able to afford the elaborate process of synthetic child birth or surrogacy (uncle state, could you cover this for me?), the point remains that for most homosexuals the lifestyle choice results in removal of their genetic material from contention. With paranoia about over population this could be interpreted as noble, in solidarity with celibates, singles, and the sterile but never as fundamentally true to the Darwinian orthodoxy of innate competition.

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    So this is really about discrimination laws and not marriage laws . That’s what I suspected. (Admitting this openly would get us to stop mentioning that clergy don’t have to marry anyone they don’t want to.) Javier, Marta L, Josh Lyman and Basil have already laid out some of the problems with this argument so I won’t reiterate them. I’ll just add that it’s important to remember that these laws protect all citizens, not just those more likely to be discriminated against at any given time. For example, imagine a photographer- gay or straight- who refuses to photograph a wedding in a church that vigorously fights against marriage equality. He would be fined for religious discrimination under that same law.

  • A Hermit

    Speaking of religious freedom apparently it doesn’t apply if you have no religion…

    “A federal court has ruled against the Center for Inquiry in an Indiana case challenging that state’s restrictions on who can perform a wedding, a law that rules out humanist secular celebrants.”

  • The opponents of SSM in the US never mentuion the catastrophic effects it has had on the countries where gays have been allowed to marry. Perhaps becasue there haven’t been any.

    We faced all of these arguments in Canada years ago, and so far the sky has not fallen.

    • Josh Lyman

      But America is SPECIAL!

    • A Hermit

      Oh no! It’s all true! My wife and I have been married for almost thirty years, but ever since they legalized SSM here in Canada our relationship has turned all gay…


  • kenneth

    Religious freedom protections are not meant to give Christians or anyone else a blanket exception to the laws of the land anytime they don’t feel like following the law out of religious conviction. This country decided a long time ago that the phrase “we don’t serve your kind here” is grotesquely un-American and would no longer be tolerated even though it limits the rights of business owners etc. When it comes to freedom of religion, your right to believe and state your own doctrine, ordain your own ministers and administer your own sacraments is near-absolute.

    When you’re out doing commerce in the general public, your rights must be balanced against those of others. The price of a business owner’s freedom to discriminate in public accommodation is other people’s human dignity and the core of this nation’s promise which millions died for. It is a price too high and a price this nation will never again pay to facilitate the “right” of anyone to treat some Americans as lesser citizens.

  • Hilary

    One thing to keep in mind, Tim, is that any law passed to protect Christians from dealing with gay couples as leagl equals can be used against them as well. Chirstians don’t get special laws just for them – any freedom of Religion loophole can be used by any religion. So if a Christian can get out of renting to a gay couple, photographing their weding, or dealing with a gay familiy at a public school, then anybody else can use the same loopholes to not deal with Christians as well. As a Jew I consider Christ a false messiah, so can I claim it’s agaisnt my religious beleifs to not deal with Christian heretics? Can I claim that it’s against my religion to legitamize people who commit representational cannabolism/aka/communion?

    I’m not arguing against the freedom of churches to teach what they believe, or minister to families as they see fit. The fact that the GodHatesFags Westboro church still exists is proof enough that your churches will not be shut down just for teaching the Gospel as you see fit, in regards to GLBT issues. You are free to raise your children with your beliefs about homosexuality. You are free to totally disown any GLBT children you have, as soon as they are off age. But think about what you would accept being on the recieving end of, in regards to using freedom of religion not to deal with people who you consider violating your religious beleifs, because someone can use the same laws against you.

    In regards to using ones freedom of concience and religion to avoid people who violate your beliefs, what do you think of this:

    One of the athiest bloggers here brought it up:

    Do you think that if Penny and I were on a vacation in Michigan, and I got a severe case of the flu, a doctor has the right to refuse to treat me because I am a lesbian with a life parter/wife? Would you accept seeing your wife being refused treatment for severe flu while on vacation because of the religous beleifs of the only doctor available?


    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Great points, Hillary. I have responses, but I’d love to see some others give it a shot first. And the point you make about Westboro Baptist “Church” just reiterates one of the basic points of this article from Greg — that it’s really not about what pastors are permitted to say in churches. At least not right now.

      I would never disown GLBT children, by the way. That’s an awful thing to imply.

      • At least not right now.

        Ugh; you say that so ominously like you see it just over the horizon, but you have absolutely nothing on which to base your implication that it is.

        • Timothy Dalrymple

          I wouldn’t say that.

          First of all, who knows what the situation will be fifty, one hundred years from now? Whether or not it’s “just over the horizon,” which I never said, it could be an issue down the line.

          And second, there actually are cases internationally of pastors being sanctioned for saying things that are perceived as bigoted. The more that gay rights “equality” is framed as a civil rights issue a la racial equality, the more the middle ground is eliminated. The argument could be made eventually that preachers teaching “hate” should not do so tax exempt, and thus pressures are applied.

          So no, I wouldn’t say there’s absolutely nothing on which to base the implication, but I also think you read the implication as much stronger than I intended.

          • John Evans

            Sanctioned by government, or the public and the media? Because free speech works both ways. Also, what are they being sanctioned for? Spreading demonstrably false information or advocating use of force would both be legally sanctionable, if they were occurring.

          • kenneth

            What happens in foreign countries is not easily applicable to what might happen here. None of them have free speech embedded in their nation’s legal tradition as deeply and strongly as we have with the First Amendment. Second, all of the alarmist incidents of pastors being punished over the “wrong” views on homosexuality have never held up to scrutiny whenever they’ve mentioned on blogs. When I’ve looked into the back stories, it always turns out that the person was charged with violating public accommodation law OR that police opened a investigation into a hate speech complaint but never prosecuted.

            I don’t doubt that there have been abuses, but the conventional wisdom in the anti-SSM world says that Christians are being routinely jailed or threatened with jail for voicing their beliefs, and the facts just don’t bear that out.

            Gay rights are framed as a civil rights issue because they are. Traditionalists would like us to believe that anyone’s rights they don’t feel like recognizing are “special rights” or artificial in some way, whereas their own rights are inviolable and organic and self-evident. Well, that’s not terribly clever or even innovative. The Jim Crow architects used the same line back in their day. Their discrimination was legitimate because they didn’t mean it with any malice, and it was grounded in sincere personal (often religious) beliefs, and anyway, these special rights for colored folks were just an artificial construct of politically correct liberals. Civil rights are not negotiable and they don’t have a middle ground where people can decide whether or not to grant them on personal preference.

            The middle ground is the ground between belief and speech and action. You can believe and say anything you like in this country. I can’t say what might happen in 150 years, but that tradition is as sacred as anything in our legal tradition. You can disagree with, even hate, any group or anyone from the president on down. If you’re not making threats, you can badmouth them 24/7 in print or the web or a street corner. Action is another matter. A businessman can be a flagrant Klan supporter or anti-Muslim or anti-Christian all day long, but he better not refuse service to these people. At that point, people’s ability to live their own life is impaired by his free exercise.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Please inform Supreme Court justices like Ginsburg that foreign law should not be a source of guidance. That would be great!

            You write that “conventional wisdom in the anti-SSM world says that Christians are being routinely jailed or threatened with jail for voicing their beliefs.” No, that’s really not the conventional wisdom. The CW is that there are just beginning to be encroachments on religious freedoms when it comes to Christian teachings and positions on homosexuality (look, for instance, at the law recently passed in California constraining what therapists, even Christian therapists, can say to young patients — or the t-shirt case in the news now, or cases of people in business who provide services around weddings, or look at policies affecting chaplains in the military and elsewhere), that those encroachments are growing more substantial, and that the removal of religious freedoms historically begins with the little things but, if it’s not stopped there, it can go on to greater things.

          • kenneth

            Ginsburg has her own little academic musings to be sure, but I’ve never seen any decision which was not cited and grounded in established American law, for better or worse. The encroachments of religious freedom of which you speak are really nothing more than the balancing of rights which always must occur in our system and which requires a new equilibrium whenever our nation gets a bit better at fulfilling its promise.

            The law strikes some new balance which says that the right to swing one’s fist based on their own beliefs ends where the protected class of people’s nose begins. There will always be disagreement about the particular point of balance, but the concept seems fair enough. The California therapy bill involves complex issues. There are First Amendment rights on the one hand, but also the right of the state to bar use of a therapy deemed useless and harmful when applied to patients who don’t have the power of informed consent. The courts are clearly giving the free speech angle its due. I don’t think honoring First Amendment freedom requires our society to accept medical malpractice as an extension of free speech, but that’s why we have courts. The T-shirt case is cut and dried discriminatory business practice law. Business owners can’t make their beliefs the problem of their customers in a business open to the general public. They’re just going to have to get used to that.

            Finally, there is no substantial issue with military chaplains under the erasure of DADT. They are expressly protected from having to act against their faith or to disavow their beliefs. What they can’t do is go around proselytizing and pressing those views in the faces of servicemen. That’s in keeping with the entire mission of chaplaincy. Military chaplains themselves have not reported problems with the new system. Culture War conservatives in Congress are the only ones making political hay on the issue.

      • Hilary

        “Great points, Hillary. I have responses, but I’d love to see some others give it a shot first. And the point you make about Westboro Baptist “Church” just reiterates one of the basic points of this article from Greg — that it’s really not about what pastors are permitted to say in churches.”

        Thanks Tim for recognizing I did have a good point. Let’s be real here – I understand that we’re not going to change each others minds about the moral and social value of SSM any more then we are going to change each other’s minds about Jesus Christ as Messiah. I’ma Jewish Lesbian, you’re an Evangelical Christian, so the point isn’t can we convince the other person we’re right and they’re wrong, but how do we live together. Where are the social/legal boundaries in the public square between us that make for a country we can both live in and equally protect our families? That’s the point of the questions I’ve been asking.

        It’s nice to say there are no social or legal barriors to two men or two women living togther, but it’s been blood, sweat, tears and lives to get there. And even if we can live together, there is still legal vulnerability. Think about it – what would your life be if you were legal strangers to your wife? If something happens to Penny, she looses her job and gets cancer or a really bad car accident, I can’t put her on my health care insurence or use FMLA to care for her. There is no legal go around for that protection. If I die tomorrow in traffic on my way to work, she can’t get social security from my work – and I’ve made more money then she has our entire 12 year relationship (Biology major v. English major, undergrad level). I have male coworkers who can do all that for their wives; why can’t I? I’ve made and kept the same vows, more or less, for better or for worse, sickness and health, till death do us part.

        To be honest, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for your concerns regarding religous freedom beyond your church. You don’t want to have to deal with my marriage as the legal/civil equivalent of yours, and I want to be able to use FMLA for my wife if I have to, if she gets cancer or somthing like that. I don’t see that as equilvalent concerns. However, our relative lack of sympathy for each other’s concerns is all the more reason to have clearly understoon legal boundaries that take both of our concerns into consideration.

        I also want to say I appreciate you responding to me and taking my comments seriously. Thank You. I see that you are trying to have a serious, substantial convrersation about a very loaded topic. I’ve spent time posting here because I think it is a conversation we as a country need to have in many places at many levels. I’ve tried to make my part of this conversation adding something valuable to think about instead of just flaiming rhetoric.


        • Hilary

          sorry for the typos, I had a cat in my lap and was typing one handed.

          • Timothy Dalrymple

            Bad kitty! 😉

          • Hilary

            New kitten, 5 months old, shorthair, pure black with copper eyes. He’s insanely cute!


  • Daniel Lafave

    What would Christians say about “No Christians” signs on restaurants or hotels? People would scream bloody murder if any such thing happened. It doesn’t compromise my religious freedom to serve Christians at a restaurant, and it doesn’t compromise someone’s religious freedom to operate a B&B on a non-discriminatory basis.

  • Hilary

    “that it’s really not about what pastors are permitted to say in churches. At least not right now.”

    It is one thing to say that according to the bible, same-sex couples are commiting sin, no matter how loving or faithful they are. It is another thing to say that all gay men are pedophiles who have secret orgies to rape boys en masse, that gay marriage is no different then gang rape, and that if a gay man looks at you God will look the other way if you beat him to death. The fact that the pastor from North Carolina who said gays and lesbians should be put in concentration camps until they all die out has not been removed from his post for hate speech should put your mind to rest that Christians are not going to be put in jail for expressing their beliefs like that in church.

    Cont . . . btw, your spam filter is a little sensitive.

  • Hilary

    Let me give you a less sexual example. A pastor is well within his theological rights to say at the pulpit that Jews have turned their back on God by refusing to recognize Christ as Messiah, and that God will abandon Jews to hellfire and torment if they don’t repent and ask Jesus into their hearts. That is different from saying that Jews poisen wells with the plague, and kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzoh. No Luthern minister would now say that Jews are “full of the devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,”[2] and the synagogue is an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut” (

    That Jews are damned for rejecting Jesus is not hate speech; but the blood libel (using blood to make matzoh) is hate speech. There is a difference between severe theology that outsiders don’t agree with and find appalling, and true hate speech that should be monitored and stopped, if necessary, because we know from history it leads to actual violence.

    The refusal of Jews to recognize Christ as messiah has been a point of contention between Jews and Christians since the time of the apostle Paul. There are far more verses in the NT that are anti-Jewish then there are verses that are anti-SSM. While you can make a case that those verses apply to only the generation of Jews Jesus worked with, the record of Christian anti-semitism from those sources is horrific. Yet Jews and Christians can live and work side by side, marry each other, and convert from one faith to another freely now in ways we never have been able to for the last 15 hundred years, since Constintine. So if we as Jews and Christians can come to understand that no matter how much we disagree about non-negotiable elements of belief we can still respect each others legal rights in the public square, perhaps that’s a place to look for inspiration for conservative Christians and GLBT people to work out a cease fire to likewise respect each other’s legal rights, when gay people can make legal marriages.

    *I did not bring the example of Christian anti-semitism up to accuse any Christian person reading this of anti-semitism. I repeat, I am not accusing you Tim of being an anti-semite simply for holding your belief in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. I bring it up as an example of prejudice that for centuries seemed as immutable a force of nature as winter, and yet now is greatly reduced without Christians feeling like their freedom of religion is compromised simply by the fact that Jews have the same secular legal rights as they do.*


    • Joe

      “…to likewise respect each other’s legal rights, when gay people can make legal marriages.”

      Just as it would be preposterous in the modern world to enshrine particularly Christian or Jewish theology in the Constitution it is equally as preposterous for the Constitution to take sides on such a deeply held belief as whether homosexuals can marry or not. Marriage is a sacred institution not a legal one. The government should strike the word ‘marriage’ from the law maintaining the legal apparatus around what was “marriage” instead for broadly defined legal “unions.” The government should never find itself, in the generous view, obliged to adjuticate deeply held beliefs or sexual preferences, or in the more cynical view, gladly, coercively wielding ever inflating power around and within bedrooms and houses of worship. Christian believers should be free to voice their convictions about homosexuality and homosexuals should be free to find whatever official who prefers whichever theology or part of theology to marry them.

      • Hilary

        Thanks you. I second that motion.


  • Hilary

    “I would never disown GLBT children, by the way. That’s an awful thing to imply”

    Good, I’m glad you wouldn’t do that. But it is a legitimate thing to imply, because it does happen, and not by athiest or liberal religious parents either.


    • Timothy Dalrymple

      No, it’s not a legitimate thing to imply. You’re slandering a group, and assuming the worst of an individual in that group (in this case me), because of the actions of a small proportion of people in that group. Change the terms a bit and we would be calling it racism, or sexism, or etc.

      I see from the link that a high percentage of homeless LGBT youth claim that they were forced out of the home due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s a terrible thing. But it does not at all imply that a high percentage of Christian parents whose children identify as LGBT force their children out of the home. If that’s not clear, let me know and I’ll explain.

      • A Hermit

        It does happen though; even here in Soviet Canuckistan where the alleged horrors of gay marriage have been legal for seven years now…without anybody really noticing. My high school age son has a friend who was kicked out of his home for being gay.

        On the other hand my grandfather was a Mennonite preacher who embraced and loved his gay son without reservations, so I’m happy if you’re more like Grandpa in that regard…;-)

      • Hilary

        Fair enough, you’re right I shouldn’t have been so quick to extrapolate that to you, even though I had friends in highschool and college for whom that was a real threat. Or my two coworkers who said they’d to it to their own kids. Do you know of any conservative churches or groups who regularly speak out against parents doing that?

        This certainly speaks to some of the deepest stereotypes we cast on each other: GLBT people say it’s about love but really it’s only sex, lust and hedonism that drives their relationships. Christian love is totally hypocritical and cold, completely conditional on a person being straight.


  • Kenneth

    By signing same-sex marriage into law, the Bible-loving Washington State Governor is helping to fulfill the predicted “days of Lot” (Luke 17) – days Jesus said would precede and hurry up His return as Judge – and she is thus making the Bible even more believable! After swelling up with pride, Mt. Rainier will be having a blast that Seaddlepated folks can share in lava-land!

    [Ran into the above on the web. Just wondering if you have seen it.]

  • ymoore

    Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.
    John F. Kennedy

    Look, the real “problem” with the gay marriage/anti-discrimination laws is that they signal the tide is shifting and some who have had the power of the majority to secure their dominance, or at least comfort via conformity, sense that change, are frightened and seek to stop it. It is indeed scary to not be in the majority because the majorities can ostracize, marginalize, persecute and otherwise make your life a living hell on earth. White evangelicals have seen what this looks like, some even did it, and they are afraid the shoe will soon be on the other foot. This is also why as a group they hate having a black president so much, even likening Obama efforts to extend health care to all Americans to” the end of the world. ” The white Evangelical sect of Christianity is free to continue worshipping and believing as it does, it just will not be able to project its norms to the rest of society. This is not a bad thing. Without the power of religious dominance, the white evangelical church, the church in America period, will have to decide if it’s a part of the Church of Christ, and if it is, act like it. People will have to know about the God we serve not by what we demand from others but how we live our own lives personally and in the public square. If we serve a God of love, people who interact with us — even in our family-owned businesses — should know it without us telling them. This is not to say we shouldn’t verbally share our faith, just that our actions say so much more.

    One more thing, I’m African American and old enough to remember family trips from NYC to North Carolina in which we packed food for the road, drove all night and went to the bathroom on the side of the road because family owned businesses, no doubt some at least owned by Christians, along the way didn’t accommodate Negroes. And Joe, remember, there was a time, and I’m sure some still hold this, that there was a “biblically-based” belief that black people were black because of a curse associated w/Ham.

    • Joe

      Did I mention something about a Biblically-based belief or otherwise imply it? I can’t find which part of what I said that you’re talking about. The transition from the radical abolitionist roots of the Republican party to total apathy about civil rights in the 20th century is one of the saddest stories of which I know. It completely breaks my heart. But (and I know you didn’t address this but I’m interested in your thoughts) though there are parallels between some of the acts of discrimination levied against homosexuals with those against African-Americans , there has never been the degree of codified legal discrimination that needed undoing against homosexuals as there was against African-Americans and white, wealthy, powerful homosexuals who are very aware of the genuine African-American narrative of liberation are deliberately seeking to draw parallels. The degree of oppression just doesn’t seem to be in the same ballpark and yet it is being framed to everyone as another civil rights movement of the same gravity, as “being on the right side of history.” And are you completely comfortable (evidence for genetic basis dependent on the right interpretation notwithstanding) with the synonymity being created between sexual orientation and race?

      • kenneth

        Other people’s oppression never seems that bad. Every oppressed group can play the game of de-legitimizing someone else’s experience because they don’t feel it “measured up” to what they went through. Gays have not suffered the same trials as African Americans. Neither did Irish or Asian Americans or Hispanics. On the other hand, Native Americans can make the case they had a worse deal than any of them, and Jews have a pretty good claim for the top rank of those who “suffered enough” to warrant justice.

        The legitimacy of a civil rights claim in no way rests upon a group meeting some arbitrary barrier of having it “bad enough”. The promise of our country is that there are not supposed to be any second class citizens or lesser caste who live at the whim of others.

        • Joe

          Quantitative analysis of the socioeconomic status, wealth, and power positions of homosexuals now, compared with any of those groups now is night and day, not to mention dominant whiteness (with the possible exception of Jews). And the contrast becomes startling when power and wealth at this particular moment in the U.S. homosexual fight for equality are compared with any of the same figures for the races/ethnicities you mentioned at a comparable place in their U.S. fight for equality. Parallel oppression between GLBT and the races mentioned, based on this quantitative comparison of power and wealth and socioeconomic factors, is easily doubted even if the fight is still technically for the same civil rights. These careless parallels drawn by disproportionately comfortable, powerful, wealthy homosexuals with poverty and powerlessness to sway public opinion are then casually, cynically, disgracefully insulting. Also, any conflation of “sexual identity” and race is grossly premature and indicative of an agenda willing to disgrace with certainty, science that is tenuous at best. I would still much appreciate anything ymoore would like to say to correct or anything.

          • kenneth

            You seem to be saying that any group which has a degree of financial success among its ranks has no basis for seeking civil rights protection. Under your standard, the well educated and professional Jews of Warsaw and Germany had nothing to complain about before they were actually put on trains. I mean, they had money and therefore all the influence they needed, right? Muslims in this country today are overwhelmingly from professional and entrepreneurial classes. Apparently they have no reason to gripe when their mosques are targeted for vandalism or special zoning delays because they’re not broke and financially helpless. A black Harvard law professor pulled over repeatedly for driving a nice car has no civil rights complaint because he’s not without financial and legal means?

            For all their crowing about discrimination in this country, apparently Christians have no basis for advocating their rights. They’re 80% of the population and account for 99% of Congress, to say nothing of their financial status. Mormons certainly have no standing in civil rights matters by your formula. Those dudes collectively have a collective net worth higher than the Almighty himself. Is there some means test qualifier to the 14th Amendment I’m not aware of?

          • Joe

            What you pointed out above is beside the point. No problem with some civil rights protection (privatization fits perfectly here). There is a huge problem with the insulting conflation of the civil rights movement of the 60s with the current gay right’s push in the rhetoric of gay rights. There are contrasts that show each movement to be of a fundamentally different nature. One was a heroic push from powerlessness and poverty the other is a cashing in of power and wealth for much more than simple civil rights; for belittlement and marginalization of all who disagree.

      • ymoore

        Being able to vote, have a marriage recognized by the state, ride the front of a bus if there’s a seat and you pay the fare, eat at a restaurant serving the general public are civil rights because they involve civil laws. Belonging to yourself, not another person; owning the fruits of your own labor, not having them usurped by another for no pay; having and raising your own children without someone taking them and selling them, or you for that matter, are human rights. No government has the right to deny anyone human rights.

        No, no one is buying and selling gay people on an open market. But the example you opened your story with was about a family business forced to close after a law suit related to public accommodations. That is about civil rights.

        A church has a right to say something is against its religious beliefs and not be forced to act against its faith, but the government cannot do that. The government must protect all citizens and people under its rule. It can’t allow gas stations to refuse to serve people the owners don’t like or think poorly of. That’s why it has to protect gay people’s right to use public facilities and must recognize their marriages.

        FYI, I’m also old enough to know that discrimination is a hard thing to prove in the court of law. In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, racially segregated suburbs were springing up all over the country. Most didn’t have written rules banning blacks from purchasing in those communities. They just didn’t sell to black buyers, steering them instead to other neighborhoods or concocting myriad other reasons that the sell couldn’t be done. Most folk don’t come out and say, “I’m going to discriminate against you.” They just do it — usually in a way that can be explained with other reasons so they don’t have to bear the consequences of their action.

        As for “biblically based” in quotation marks, I wasn’t quoting you but rather the longtime argument against homosexuality period. In many Christian churches, it is taught that the Bible condemns homosexuality, period. That’s why the term is in quotes.

        • Joe

          Since marriage as the first contract to emerge out of human societies preceded the broader social contract which included governance and since Protestants gave the civil authorities regulatory jurisdiction over marriage (which at that point assumed it would be between a man and a woman and which was unable to prophecy the cultural shift around sex that would take place) which had been regulated solely by church law for the previous 1300 years and since as a believer I would assume that you attach sacred value to a covenant of marriage (as I do), what do you think of privatizing marriage? The government would cease to define marriage (and the exclusive institution it implies for believers) in its laws by striking the word marriage from them all. Broadly defined civil unions which include every civil right “marriage” has today would be included in these civil unions and believers or unbelievers could define marriage or abandon the term completely as each saw fit. It would seem to me that as a Christian you may also be interested in defining the sacred covenant of marriage instead of having the government do it and that privatizing marriage could give you the best of both worlds. Do you have any thoughts and thank you for your above insights.

          • ymoore

            Actually, a few years ago, I was hoping that would have happened — government authorized civil unions for whoever wanted one and church authorized marriages accounting to its faith. It seemed like a reasonable win-win for everyone. But now that states have begun affirming same sex marriages in referendums, the moment for that option may have passed.

    • Evan


      Good insight. I suspect that a lot of white conservative Christians find intolerable the idea of an America where they don’t have the privilege of making the rules and forcing their social customs on others.

      • Joe

        From one who knows white conservative Christians quite well the idea that they make the rules and force their social customs on others is long gone in those circles. White conservative Christians are worried about the plummeting of fertility rates that homosexuality seems to imply (needs to be scientifically addressed still). They are also worried about a homosexual elite waging a legal war on the freedom of religion. There is “fear of persecution rhetoric” on both sides of this issue but your idea that white conservative Christians are secretly working for imposition and dominance of their views throughout the nation is completely out of the question.

  • J. Morales

    Great piece by Greg, thanks for posting. I wish all the best for ADF as they continue their work, it’s a thankless job I’m sure, but necessary.

    We will see a lot of freedoms go away is SSM becomes the law of the land, unfortunately it seems some people will see that too late. The sheer number of examples of intolerance by SSM activists is surprising, but of course, they don’t get brought up much by the more mainstream press.

  • Evan

    Frankly, I don’t find the argument to be persuasive. From a legal perspective, Vermont’s same-sex marriage law had nothing to do with the innkeepers’ liability under Vermont’s antidiscrimination laws. According to what’s stated above, someone with apparent authority to act on the inn’s behalf refused the lesbian couple the opportunity to hold their wedding at the inn, apparently on account of their sexual orientation. The couple can’t shield their business from liability merely because they delegate it to others to carry out the discrimination. If the inn employee was acting outside of the scope of her authority, then the inn should have taken legal action against her, such as filing a cross-claim against her. Unless they did this, I would find it hard to believe that the employee wasn’t acting with the inn owners’ approval when she refused accommodation to the lesbian couple.

  • torin93

    This is the issue, Can a church or religious organization that accepts tax revenue from the state for a public serve discriminate based on the religious principles.

    This is the heart of the question. If the organization receives no money from the state then they should be allowed to discriminate.

    My mama once said, if you take their money, you play by their rules.