Is It Possible to Have Individual Freedom of Conscience and Gay Marriage?

Is It Possible to Have Individual Freedom of Conscience and Gay Marriage? November 14, 2013

 

The debate is boiling down to a wall-punching, head-butting disaster.

On the one side, there are gay marriage advocates who decry religious freedom and personal conscience exemptions to participation in gay marriage except for the most isolated cases, and even that quickly comes into question as discussions proceed.

On the other side, are gay marriage opponents who decry the loss of personal freedom of expression and religious liberty. They quickly move to a position of banning gay marriage to preserve their freedoms.

Those who advocate each position have worked themselves into such a froth that they are incapable of civil discussion, much less actual compromise. I have been a victim of this myself. I lost a friend who I thought of as my brother, a friendship spanning decades of our lives and which had given both of us a great deal of love, loyalty, fun and support. He ended this friendship with the finality of an amputation because I could not support gay marriage.

That is the level of acrimony and nastiness this issue raises.

But in truth, the argument itself is based on considerations which have ample precedence in American life and jurisprudence to allow any and all of us to live together in harmony. America has a historic tradition of honoring freedom of conscience as it pertains to religious faith. The most poignant example of this is the exemptions we allow for those whose religious faith demands that they not participate in combat.

We even extend this to people who are not members of a faith which demands it.

I know because a friend of mine obtained conscientious objector status after he was in the military during the Viet Nam war. He made this request based on his personal conviction that killing anyone was murder. It was not based on his faith, since he was a member of a church that did not teach this.

The United States Army granted him conscientious objector status. I have also known Mennonite men who were granted conscientious objector status because of their faith.

So why can’t we work out something for gay marriage? I am not talking about exemptions for established churches, even though that is absolutely necessary if America is going to be America. I am talking about preserving the conscience rights and right to religious freedom of all American citizens.

Gay marriage zealots can be single-minded, intolerant and destructive in how they approach their cause. They resort far too often to labeling everyone who disagrees with them as bigots or some such and then excoriating and slandering these people and institutions in a concerted way that can only be described as character assassination.

My own friend, who I would have trusted with my life, has gone on the internet and written things about me to hurt me. None of these things he’s said advance the cause of gay marriage. They are simple expressions of hatred because we disagree over this issue.

I’m not sure what causes this level of ugliness. People who fought the great Civil Rights battles of the mid twentieth century did not engage in it, and the level of oppression and suffering they were battling makes any complaints that homosexuals have pale by comparison.

Perhaps the difference is that Martin Luther King Jr led from a Gospel standpoint. He based his cause in the inalienable human rights found in the Gospels of Jesus Christ. People sang hymns, prayed and talked about how they were saving the soul of America before they left to face the firehoses that were turned on them in Civil Rights marchers.

Their bravery and their powerful witness to their own humanity not only won the day, it did indeed, ennoble the soul of this nation.

No cause can do that if it stoops to the level that some of the gay rights advocates have chosen in their work for gay marriage. There is no nobility in slander, name-calling and bald-faced bullying. There is certainly nothing of a higher calling in attempts to advance your desires by attacking and limiting the basic human rights of other people.

That, at root, is what freedom religion and freedom of personal conscience are: Basic human rights. The freedom to believe in God and to follow your own faith is second only to the basic right to life and freedom from violence in the hierarchy of human rights. It is what separates us from the animals.

Alone of all the creatures on this planet, we know that we are going to die. Also alone of all the creatures on this planet, we know that there is right and wrong and dignity to every human soul.

Can there be human rights for gay people and freedom of religion for everyone?

Certainly.

Is gay marriage a human right for gay people? I don’t think so.

To be honest, I think that gay marriage, if it is regarded as the same as marriage between a man and a woman, is a delusion. Two men or two women are not the same as a man and a woman. There are basic legal rights that gay couples should have, simply because the laws of America have to be for everyone. But marriage between two men or two women is simply not possible. We can all pretend and call it marriage. But that won’t make it so.

The next question is, should gay people have the same civil rights as other Americans?

Of course.

Should every American, gay or straight, have the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion?

Absolutely. That’s not only imperative, it’s easily done if people of good will try to do it.

We can work it out. We can even work it out if we change the definition of marriage.

But will we?

I don’t know the answer to that.

We have the means and the power. The last question is simply, do we have the will?


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115 responses to “Is It Possible to Have Individual Freedom of Conscience and Gay Marriage?”

  1. Conscientious objector is actually a good analogy. I certainly like that, but I’m betting it won’t satisfy the gay lobby. Their analogy is civil rights, and no one would propose a conscientious objection to marrying african-americans, or mixed race marriages. But I agree, two people of the same gender do not make a marriage. It’s absurd on its face, but this is where we live today.

  2. That got to me too, Ken. If the price of citizenship on this earth is that I foreswear my citizenship in heaven, then guess which one wins?

  3. Conscientious objector is not a suitable analogy at all. When we accommodate the beliefs of an objector to abstain from combat duty, an institution, the military, is inconvenienced. Nobody’s human and civil dignity is compromised in the process. If we accommodate someone’s beliefs to refuse service to gay people, real human beings have their humanity diminished, in a way that is as real and un-American as the refusal of service for race, religion, or any other reason core to that person’s identity.

    I agree that the acrimony can and should be taken down several notches, at least. However, there will be no compromise which requires that gay men and women have their basic civil rights to public accommodations made optional.

  4. what a nasty bigot-crying for tolerance when she thinks gays will “burn in hellfire for all eternity” for expressing physical love. Look, you vile hag, we do NOT need to be nice to you. We will NOT be kind to your bigotry and your strange belief that we shouldn’t be equal under the law. Marriage, you twit, is a legal civil contract in the USA-it is NOT religious at all unless you want it to be. Now step aside, you horrid witch-equality is coming through!!

  5. they did find another photographer, you twit. But bigots dont get a pass in PUBLIC business-sorry-what next? No blacks at a KKK restaurnat? No jews at a Nazi owned store? imbecile

  6. ummmm … you may not realize this, but calling women things like “hag” is sexist, misogynist and — dare I say it? — bigoted. Same goes for twit and horrid witch.

    Physician, heal thyself.

  7. I normally don’t let this kind of stuff through. But it’s been a long day, and I’m kind of sick of gay men acting like jerks and thinking it’s a-ok. I’m letting a few of these through until I get tired of it. Feel free to humiliate yourselves.

  8. No American religious organization is ever going to be forced to perform a marriage it doesn’t want to, regardless of what exemptions may or not be in any given marriage equality law.

    Refusing to provide ordinary commercial services to gay couples because their behavior goes against your religion is
    1. not intellectually consistent without refusing service to all people from other religions and
    2. plainly not Christlike.

  9. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the constitution. You can’t prohibit someone from exercising their religion. There are concrete religious practices and tenets that we can observe, and then determine if laws are prohibiting the exercise of them. However, this says nothing about freedom of personal conscience, probably because it’s impossible to make laws that would offend at least someone’s conscience.

  10. Norm, dude, SO not helpful! I’ve been in this fight for going on 15 years. There are plenty of folks in the opposition who are bigots and earn whatever bile you got, but for every true bigot, there are plenty of folks who are just strident and captive to their own belief system. At the end of the day, it’s not worth sorting out their motives or returning the hate of the hateful. We don’t need anger cause we got something much better on our side- the truth, the promise of our country’s Constitution, and the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans. We are winning and we can afford to be graceful victors. We owe that to ourselves, if not them.

  11. Proponents or opponents of gay marriage don’t matter to me. I care about human beings. I care about families and children.

    The only delusion I see is people insisting gay marriage is a delusion.

  12. Is gay marriage a human right for gay people? I don’t think so.

    How can you even say that? Of course it is.

  13. Sus, the only children involved are those that are either adopted, come from a heterosexual union, or are manufactured by harvesting women’s bodies and then hiring women to be “surrogates.” These last two things are horribly misogynistic and damaging to women. It is, once again, trying to achieve “equality” by damaging the human rights of other people.

    Gay couples do not produce children. So that whole argument is basically non sequitur. Playing house and calling it marriage does not make it marriage.

    I could pass a law (if I could find enough other legislators to agree with me & if I could muster the campaign donations, I’d find the legislators) that the moon is made of green cheese and that there is life on Mars. That would not make it true.

    Gay people are people, and they are certainly entitled to full equality as human beings. But two men or two women is not the same as a man and a woman, and calling people names or winning elections or court cases will not change that.

    That is not a question of equality. It is a question of fundamental reality.

  14. I hear you.

    You’ll understand better once gay marriage is legal in your state and you start seeing families with gay parents in your parish.

  15. Thanks for proving Rebecca’s point with sexism to boot. For Catholics, marriage is not a “contract” but a covenant… not a purely human institution. Not bigotry but a different understanding of its procreative, complimenarity and sacramental nature.

    All gay people are equal in human dignity as are people of faith. Most gay men I know are very loving, especially to women. But I have a few requests for fairness. Please stop littering our parks with used condoms, please take hour business out of public restrooms and into your private dwellings. Consider more clothing on pride floats. The families that come out to parades to support you have young children, and face it, no one looks good in speedos. If you belong to Act Up, please stop showing up to ordinations shouting obscenities at our new priests and their families and spitting and throwing condoms.

    Marriage is a huge responsibility — so is being a good citizen and respecting the environment!

  16. This is something I hear alot. If I just “see” a real gay couple I will somehow be convinced that gay marriage is legit. As though the only thing keeping me from supporting gay marriage is that I haven’t witnessed the love between gay partners. Well, I’m pretty certain that at this point in history everybody has friends/family who are openly gay, myself included. But what the debate boils down to isn’t whether gay people love each other “enough” (I’ve seen myself how devotedly they do), its whether marriage is defined solely by the love two people have for each other.

    I believe, like Rebecca, and as it has been understood throughout history, that love is one PART of marriage. Another equally important part is the complementary biology between a man and a woman that–until fairly recently–was the only way new lives were brought into the world. Marriage recognizes the life-giving potential of the union between a man and a woman, and gives it legal protection. Simply sharing deep romantic love does not equal marriage.

  17. I assume that you are unaware of the huge industry out there farming women’s bodies, and the number of web sites that cater specifically to homosexual men that do this. I also assume that you are unaware that this is sick, exploitative misogyny. But now you know.

    As for the rest of your comment, the only homosexuals I personally know who have children of their own bodies from marriages lied to the women in question and told them they were straight and that they loved them and blah, blah, blah. Then, they married the women. In short, they used these women.

    I understand how this could have happened back in the day when homosexual people were under intense social discrimination and approbation, just for experiencing same sex attraction. However, the men (and it seems to be all men in my acquaintance, but then I’m an elected official witnessing gay men marry women in order to further their political careers) who do this today are doing it for entirely selfish reasons.

    They are users. People who use women’s bodies to produce children for them are users, as well. The doctors who run these baby factories are a disgrace to their profession.

    Nothing you said gainsays the fact that the sexual actions of two men or two women together cannot create life. Also, nothing you said in any way explains how two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. You certainly have not made a case for redefining marriage and you absolutely have not made a case for forcing other people to participate in gay marriages by having their civil and First Amendment rights violated to make you feel that this is a “real” marriage.

    Nothing I said in this post gainsays or attempts to gainsay the humanity of gay people. It does not address the origins of same-sex attraction, but I freely acknowledge that same sex attraction is both historic and present in all human societies I know anything about.

    That, again, is not the question.

    Two men or two women are not the same as a woman and a man. Stop raising the red herring of religious bigotry to avoid the simple biological facts of life.

  18. They are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. Being married makes them happy. There is no question that this is their right.

  19. Would you be prepared to sponsor a bill outlawing surrogacy in all forms? This practice is certainly not exclusive to gay couples.

  20. Conscientious objector is a far from perfect analogy and actually helps the pro-gay marriage team more than the anti-gay marriage team.

    We don’t force conscientious objectors to participate actively in active combat. Fine. But we also don’t take it to the next level: we don’t let conscientious objectors interfere with people who want to become soldiers, nor do we allow conscientious objectors to refuse to offer their goods and services to soldiers.

  21. …but for every true bigot, there are plenty of folks who are just strident and captive to their own belief system.

    That is why it is so wrong and hypocritical for those who control what their followers believe to not provide them the proper guidance. People need to stop believing that gay marriage is evil, or in their words, sinful.

  22. I have no problem authoring a bill to take payment out of the equation. I did author a bill that attempted to take the money out of egg harvesting.

    Making it voluntary rather than paid would stop the wholesale exploitation of women. As for people besides gay couples using it, I am aware that hiring women to carry their baby has become popular in certain wealthy, high-profile circles.

    That doesn’t make it less exploitative or sexist and it certainly doesn’t gain my support for the practice. Rather, it enforces my belief that misogyny is alive and well and flourishing throughout our culture and that amorality will not end it.

    Take the money out of it, and if you can talk your sister into doing this for you, that’s between the two of you. But paying her to do it needs to stop. Doctors running online web sites where people chose the women whose bodies they want to farm for eggs and other women they want to rent for carrying a baby, need to lost their license to practice medicine. I’ve no problem with authoring a bill to do that, either. Women are human beings, too, you know.

  23. But we also don’t take it to the next level: we don’t let conscientious objectors interfere with people who want to become soldiers, nor do we allow conscientious objectors to refuse to offer their goods and services to soldiers.

    The Constitution specifically forbids seizure of private property for use by the military. Your comment has nothing to do with the freedoms of conscientious objectors.

    We are not talking about people interfering with gay people and their “weddings,” we are talking about gay people coercing other people to participate in these weddings against their will.

    What, exactly, happened to, “If you don’t favor gay marriage, then don’t get gay married,” and “gay marriage won’t change anything”?

  24. Rebecca,

    Here’s a closer analogy: My neighbor, Ahmet (who operates a gas station/convenience store) has firmly held religious beliefs that women should not (among other things) vote or drive. By your reasoning vis-a-vis gay marriage, he should be able to deny you service at his gas station, because the thing you are doing (driving) violates his religious convictions and our laws should not force him to participate.

    I would appreciate your reply.

    Kindly,

    Patrick

  25. I wonder if Rebecca is making a distinction between human rights and civil rights. Equal treatment under the law is a civil right in the US. But how do human rights relate to civil rights?

  26. Mary, although the raising of children has long been seen as a fundamental reason for marriage, the ability to produce children has never been a restriction for marriage. Marriages have regularly been conducted between individuals incapable of generating children. Complementary biology may be important for producing new children, but producing children is not essential to marriage.

    Granted, though, in the Catholic understanding, marriage can only exist as the complementary union of man and woman. But this has as much (or more) to do with their complementary natures, rather than simply their complementary biology.

  27. Representative Hamilton,

    here’s a hypothetical for you –

    Someone claims a sincere religious belief that they cannot provide goods or services to a Catholic – is that acceptable?

  28. “Same sex marriage is not only possible, it has existed for as long as there have been individual rights.”
    Evidence, please. Which societies had gay marriage before a couple of decades ago, and where is this information recorded?

  29. It’s been done. Remember NINA?

    However, that’s not applicable. We are not talking about people refusing to provide goods and services to a group of people but rather people who do not want to be coerced by the government into participating in an activity that is against their religious beliefs.

  30. ” America has a historic tradition of honoring freedom of conscience as it pertains to religious faith.”

    The way this debate has gone down over the past 10 years, makes me strongly doubt that tradition is a good idea at all.

  31. I’ve yet to see a homosexual or divorced heterosexual parent that is worthy of the name parent.

    Parents are willing to sacrifice happiness for their children- and part of that sacrifice *should* entail loving the opposite sex biological parent.

  32. And complementary natures is something no modern feminist will admit to. If the physical genders are not absolutely equal in nature, then the female is superior. Complementary would indicate that a woman needs a man, and that’s heresy.

  33. This makes no sense. If there are those who actually “control what their followers believe” (and I assume, on this blog, you must be speaking of Catholics), why should the controllers want to provide “guidance”? After all, it’s about control.
    If, on the other hand, the truth from God is that homosexual activity truly is objectively sinful (which Catholics do believe, with guidance and explanation from their church, btw — and this knowledge is not revelatory — it is available to all through logical thinking), the idea that one can just think against reality is silly. And not loving at all. It’s not merciful to allow someone to think a sin is not a sin.
    And “what is sin?” seems to me to be the most important question of all. Because if it’s only a matter of opinion, what is the point of Christ on the cross?

  34. Exactly. It isn’t as if the photographer/baker/etc. is refusing to serve gay people outright. They only refuse to participate in what they believe is a mockery of true marriage. If the same person asks them to provide a cake for a birthday or a promotion at work, I am sure there would not be a problem.

  35. If a man and a woman are incapable of having intercourse together, then they cannot be married in the Catholic Church. Generally, there is no way to know for certain whether children can be produced until you try, but at least the capability to fit the parts together which would produce children is a requirement.

  36. Civil right or human right. It doesn’t matter. Gays have a right to marry and no religious taboo can take that right away. Catholics have got to stop trying to impose their overly restrictive morality on this country.

  37. That’s over the top Ted. Even though some homosexuals behave badly in their advocacy of gay marriage, I an assure that they are not insane. Hating hillbillies on the other hand …. 🙂

  38. That is not what I said at all. It’s either a deliberate red herring or an accidental one. Either way, I’m not going off in the weeds with you.

  39. You’re asking the wrong question. The question, to run parallel with what you seem to be contending, should be does the government have a responsibility to step in and force Mr Ahmed to sell me gasoline.

    The answer is no.

    First of all, there are … lessee … two gas stations around the block from my house in one direction, and one around the other direction, and another in a third direction. Mr Ahmed would have a lot of competition. So there’s no reason for me to get all het up about him. I would just drive on.

    Also, if your Mr Ahmet decided he didn’t want to sell gas to all the womenfolk, that would be a lot of business. I wouldn’t use any muscle on the guy. He’d fall over on his own if all the women drivers went across the street, and (as would happen) most of their husbands, sons and fathers followed suit.

    So, it would so long for Mr Ahmet and his gas station.

    The point I’m making is that there is no reason at all for me to try to use the government to coerce Mr Ahmet to sell me anything.

    The same applies to florists, bakers and wedding photographers. There is no compelling interest on the part of the government to get into this.

    Now. I have a question for you. I originally wrote this post, not to debate the merits of gay marriage or the basic human rights of gay people. These issues were erected by commenters as straw men, I think.

    What I asked was simply is it possible to have gay marriage and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion at the same time?

    The answer which I’m hearing — through all the strum und drang — is no. The reason seems to be that gay people — at least those who are commenting on this post — are committed to using government force to coerce other people to ratify their decisions by participating in them, whether the person wants to or not.

    Remember, we’re not talking about major corporations here, but what are often single-owner businesses. Also, we’re not talking about the only flower shop in New Mexico or Oregon or wherever.

    So. The question I’m raising is simple: Do you, sir, take the position that you will not compromise? Is it as waste of time to discuss these things with gay marriage advocates?

  40. I consider people who deny basic reality to be insane. The only reason homosexuality (and other “gender confusion” disorders) were removed from the DSM in the first place was through bribery.

  41. Ted, I think it is a mistake to make claims about all feminists. Such claims assume that feminism is monolithic, and that all feminists agree on matters relating to culture, society, nature etc. There is a wide range of viewpoints within feminism, and even disagreement about what exactly feminism is or who actually is a feminist.

  42. Rebecca, Yes, and I have a detailed response explaining what I think an appropriate compromise is, but before I type that, I must ask, with respect, why you didn’t print my reply to your question: “What, exactly, happened to, “If you don’t favor gay marriage, then don’t get gay married,” and “gay marriage won’t change anything”?

    I juts need to understand what the standard is, since a few of my attempted posts have complied with your “Blog Rules” (as posted above right), but they don’t appear here. As you might imagine, it’s frustrating trying to be fair and responsive while fearing that some my carefully reasoned replies are being thrown out.

    To repeat your question, am i wasting my time?

    With respect,

    Patrick

  43. No idea what you’re talking about. I haven’t deleted any of your comments that I remember. Maybe you should try again.

  44. If a heterosexual couple choose to not reproduce, is their marriage really a “marriage” ? Can’t they just be happy being with each other, sharing romantic love? IMO, yes. Marriage, no matter the gender combination, is more than just reproduction possibilities.

  45. Then, Dave, they can be married in another denomination. There are those faiths that will marry them if a couple chooses to have religion involved, but marriage is also marriage when done in a secular atmosphere.

  46. That is not the point of those who oppose gay marriage. I for one am not asking the state to base its actions on my religion and I have never heard anyone else do that, either. Petitioning the government is a basic right of every American, and there does not need to be any reference as to religious belief to do that. What I am insisting on is that religious freedom be honored and allowed.

  47. Erin,

    Saying that homosexuality is objectively sinful is incorrect. Its sinfulness is a religious taboo, not an objective truth. The fact that it is legal would take the objectivity away from those who see it as wrong. The Church does not dictate objective truth. It has its own version of the truth which most people on this planet ignore.

  48. Rebecca,

    To further your argument, you would rather say that you would not take issue with a Muslim refusing to sell you gas because of your sex. I find that to be disingenuous. How do you know that it wouldn’t be the only available service station or that others were not also owned by devout Muslims. Why should you have to drive around looking for a gas station not owned or operated by a devout Muslim. It is the perfect analogy and you changed your whole worldview just to answer it in defense of a dumb religious taboo.

  49. As they say, more than half the psychiatrists in the profession would need their own profession’s help.

  50. No Bill I didn’t change my whole world view. I said that the government had no compelling in interest in forcing this man to sell me gas, and it doesn’t. You seem to operate on the notion that every single blip that pertains to someone doing something you don’t like needs to be corrected by sledgehammer government intrusion, even if that intrusion destroys our basic freedoms.

    Most things take care of themselves nicely without government coercion or ending individual freedoms.

    This notion of yours would be of no great consequence if it was just yours alone. But we have a whole group of people who are equating their wants with compelling government interest and demanding that other people’s rights be curtailed to service those wants. That is a dangerous precedent to allow.

    Buying gas at one particular gas station as opposed to the many others out there is neither a civil right nor a human right. It is a carping demand.

    Let your hypothetical muslim do whatever he wants with his wares. The market place will take care of him.

  51. Note: If you don’t want your comments deleted, read the blog rules. They say: Repetitive, harassing attacks against the faith, Jesus or the Church are not welcome here.

  52. If it isn’t then how did so many thousands of service members get dischargned under DADT? Some openly challenged the military, but most were rooted out by McCarthy-esque investigations prompted by secret allegations, people with grudges etc.

    Of course homosexuality is core to identity. Even if you’re the most private person in the world, it places you outside of the normal patters of heterosexual family and social life in ways that always leads people to pry, in work settings, health care, housing, you name it. “Hey Jim, how come we never get to meet your wife? Who’s that friend that picks you up every day? And yes, heterosexuality is the same in that regard. People figure out and categorize “what” you are whether you’re “out” or not.

    People also do not get “cured” of their orientation, regardless of what quack ministries and counselors have said over the years. Sexual orientation is probably more core to a person’s identity than religion in that regard. Plenty of people change religions at some point in their life.

  53. An advantage of having an SUV is that, if you ever spot the pope along the road looking for a ride, you will have room for him, in addition to your family.

    I hope your new car treats you well, and that you guys get much enjoyment from it.

  54. I understand you completely. But the days of the government not protecting you from being denied service for being a woman or a same sex couple from being discriminated against are long gone and never coming back.

  55. Let your hypothetical muslim do whatever he wants with his wares. The market place will take care of him.
    I am not sure that handing the welfare of individuals over to the marketplace is such a good idea. In rural communities, local merchants or property owners might collectively refuse to sell to a person or family simply because of religion or race. Employers or landlords might do the same. This could make living in an area impossible if the individual or family belonged to an “undesirable” group.

    Should the protections of the American Disability Act also be abandoned in favor of market forces?

  56. Marriage recognizes the life-giving potential of the union between a man and a woman, and gives it legal protection. Simply sharing deep romantic love does not equal marriage.

    According to you and the Catholic Church maybe. Not to the Supreme Court.

  57. “Saying that homosexuality is objectively sinful is incorrect.”
    Actually, I think you’ll find that the Church agrees with you that homosexuality is not sinful. Sodomy, on the other hand, is.

  58. You still haven’t provided any evidence that this was the case, probably because there isn’t any. No society, as far as we know, considered homosexual relationships to be a form of marriage until the twentieth century — and, incidentally, that includes societies like Ancient Greece where homosexual relations were seen as normal and unobjectionable.

    “Men have been making their lives with other men, and women with women. They have raised children together, owned businesses together, and have been tax payers and contributors in all areas of life.”
    Living together isn’t the same as being married. Plenty of students live together in houses, but that doesn’t make them married. Owning a business together sounds more like business partners than a married couple. Raising children together doesn’t make people married — some families have a nanny to help with looking after the children, does that mean that the husbands in such households are all bigamists? Paying taxes has nothing to do with being married, and “contributors in all areas of life” is so vague as to be practically meaningless.

  59. So. What you are saying is that some future generation will somehow return to the bigotry and homophobia of the past and the present tolerance is only a passing fad. Well, that sounds bizarre, but I can’t predict what the future will bring. It would mean that the world has devolved.

  60. The photographer/baker is taking pictures/baking a cake not engaging in a religious act. If you can’t bring yourself to serve the public don’t offer a public service.

  61. If you were, you would believe all men were evil rapists out to force women to be mothers, and I know you don’t believe that.

    I’ve lived under 1970s feminist tyranny my entire life, it took me until I was in my 30s to overthrow their dirty lies about humanity.

  62. It isn’t- because it isn’t, regardless of what anybody says, regardless of what the culture says. I’m not human because I am heterosexual, you aren’t human because you are homosexual.

    It is your choice to be outside the normal patterns of heterosexual family and social life.

    Sexual orientation isn’t central to identity at all. It’s just one factor among many, unless you’re so stupid that you go around announcing your sexual orientation.

  63. I genuinely do not see how you are reconciling these two statements, “[…]there does not need to be any reference as to religious belief to do that. What I am insisting on is that religious freedom be honored and allowed.” And really, how does civil marriage violate your RELIGIOUS freedom? Other churches (not Catholic) are pro-gay marriage. By suggesting that only your religion is the central basis of the government protecting religious freedom is absurd. So, if the government protects your religious freedoms by not allowing same sex marriage, they are violating the freedoms of other religions. I’m guessing maybe you have a hard time recognizing that there are other religions, and there are, because we have religious freedom in this country. Your statements that vilify and lump all gays together are also disgusting. I think you should be embarrassed as a public servant to say something like gay men are littering your parks with condoms, and that somehow ties in with why they should not be married. But I suspect you are still bitter because a close friend left you because of your views. And before you say that is some kind of unrelated attack, it very clearly shows in your writing.
    Same-sex couples marrying is not the same issue as surrogate mothers, adoption, and using another woman’s eggs. They are JUST NOT.
    If you do not think a church should not have to perform same-sex marriages, that is fine. But if you want to assert that civil marriage and religious marriage are one in the same, you’re going to have to pass a whooole lotta laws preventing many couples to get married. Couples in Oklahoma are going to the courthouse for many other reasons than a holy sacrament. Think of marriages for in-state residency for college and health insurance.

  64. More precisely, it’s that familiarity seems to breed acceptance — tolerance of the minority tends significantly higher among those people who have more acquaintances in the category, whether the minority be “black people” or “gay people”. However, that’s only a tendency to change, and also may not reach a particular magnitude of change.

    I’ll also repeat the old joke maternity nurses tell laboring mothers: “This was the easy part; the next eighteen years are the hard part”. As teen pregnancies and adoption help show, bringing new lives into the world is neither necessary nor sufficient to the job of “parents”.

  65. My understanding is that the Catholic theological excuse in such cases involves pointing to Saint Elizabeth, cousin to the Virgin Mary.

  66. The answer of “no” is consistent with your advocated position; however, it does not seem consistent with the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, nor principles recognized in case law in upholding it. Would you have voted against that?

    To respond to the question you ask: “is it possible to have gay marriage and freedom of conscience and freedom of religion at the same time?” To a point. Catholics and the Catholic Church are under no obligation to recognize the marriage of a gay or lesbian couple as a valid Sacrament for cannonical purposes, any more than they are obligated to accept a marriage performed by an imam, or by a baptist minister, or in civil ceremony by a courthouse clerk. They are, however, obligated to “render unto Caesar/Washington”, and recognize that it meets the standards of what the State calls marriage, and yield the State-mandated obligations in treatment to that State-recognize status.

  67. Since the Disqus editor ate my long answer (it hates my browser), I’d suggest looking at Meister v Moore 96 U.S. 76 (1877): the leading purpose is to secure a registration of marriages, and evidence by which marriages may be proved.

    This seems rooted in the historical tangling of marriage with property ownership; though precluding such recognition for marriages unsuitable (EG: mixed race, bigamous, nonconsensual…) in consensus of legitimate public policy.

    But oversimplifying: because the question of “who is married to whom” is occasionally pertinent to some material controversy before the courts.

  68. Ken, my understanding is that the government issues marriage licenses to minimize legal disputes over such things as property and child custody. There are also a multitude of legal rights which are given to an individual regarding the welfare of their spouse. In addition, the government helps ensure that a prospective spouse is not already married (with the legal entanglements that would bring.)

  69. Concientiously object to WHAT though? To gay marriage? How would that work? They would refuse to marry a person of the same gender?

  70. I have the advantage over you, since I remember when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed. I was too young to vote or be directly involved, but I do remember it. The answer is that I thought the Act was a good idea at the time. However, it was based on something quite different from what you are talking about.

    Also, I had the pleasure of voting and speaking and working against discriminatory legislation against hispanics as a legislator. I have also voted against discriminatory legislation against homosexuals, including when it was very unpopular, even politically dangerous, to do so.

    So … what does this prove, aside from the fact that I may not be the bigot the deleted commenters on this blog say that I am?

    One thing I hope it at least indicates is that I am pretty much immune to knee jerk manipulations to create false dichotomies, such as the one you are trying to create here.

    Race and sexual preference are not the same thing. Sexual preference and sex (male and female) are not the same thing. Race and sex are physical. Sexual preference is mental. It is also highly diffuse and nebulous; and if the ever-widening arguments that now include people who are afflicted with the mental disorder of thinking they are the opposite sex from what they are (as opposed to those who are truly physically mixed-gendered) as well as those who are all worked up about “polyamory,” which is just another word for polygamy, seem to say.

    All this is to say that the constant equating of sexual preference to race and sex is bogus. I am not saying that actual discrimination against homosexual people does not exist and absolutely has existed in the past. I am also not saying that sexual preference is something that gay people seek or that they can resist. So please try to stay off that worn out hobby horse.

    I sometimes delete comments for boring redundancy. Arguers for atheism, pro abortion and gay marriage tend to repeat the same reasoning over and over, using almost identical verbiage when they do.

    Instead of making your case this way, try making a case for civil rights for homosexuals that is distinct to sexual preference. There is one, you know, and a strong one.

    However, it may not allow homosexuals to assert that everyone, everywhere, should be forced by the government to validate their life choices. I think in this, as in egg harvesting, the gay rights movement has gone into areas where they are attacking other people’s human and civil rights in order to play out the fantasy that two men or two women are the same as a man and a woman. Demanding that all of society be forced by the government to play this game is wrong.

  71. As I noted, the community care because it is occasionally pertinent to some “material controversy” — property issues being a large subset — and resource-efficient resolution of controversy being arguably the fundamental function of government as social institution. (I’ll also note I understand there’s some peculiarities to the marriage “contract”, in that its formation is uniquely constraining of third parties. However, I’m not a lawyer, and thus not qualified to get into the details. Feel free to pay for a competent expert opinion, if they matter to you.) These are the sort of controversy that tend to have relatively high resource stakes, disputants whose views are strongly held and unusually divergent, and tend to expand outward as disputants call on allies in escalation. Essentially, it’s ingredients for a small internecine war — and those are expensive.

    As result of a tendency for the arising of associated significant controversies of sort tending where official registration to certify is thought likely to facilitate resolution (or even prevent circumstances of dispute), and the perceived de minimus cost of mandating official registration, such registration became legally mandated by usual political means. While alternate frameworks for handling those elements could conceivably have been used, they weren’t actually used. It’s possibly not an absolute philosophical necessity, but even if mere historical accident of cultural evolution, it is the current convention at law.

    Your underlying question would seem to need elaborating before it could fully be addressed; and such addressing, seem to need extensive background discussion to negotiate mutually accepted basic terminology and premises — probably going all the way back to Hume’s is-ought divides. As a matter of law, the basic answer seems to be “as a result of principles given by political consensus”, but that may not be much more satisfying than just “because”.

  72. So, in other words, a person who is offering a public service has no conscience rights at all. If they are asked to provide a cake or pictures for anything at all, they must do it, i.e. perhaps a cake or pictures for a company event celebrating the death of a business rival, or perhaps a cake or pictures of an event celebrating the defeat of a gay marriage referendum, or a cake celebrating the KKK with a derogatory reference to “niggers” written on it. It matters not to you how horribly despicable the event may be, which they are being asked to support; photographers and bakers, and others providing a public service, have no conscience rights.

  73. Because it’s “presumably” infertile, not ontologically infertile. Speaking in ontological terms, a man and a woman are a fertile pair. Every human being has a mother and a father. Every human being needs a mother and a father to thrive optimally.

  74. There may be reasonable limits in terms of being asked to produce objectionable material, but to refuse service to an individual because of their race, religion or gender is another matter entirely.

  75. True, but the case we are discussing is not refusing to serve an individual because of any personal characteristic. It is refusing to provide a service for an EVENT they find objectionable.

    I am not that concerned about this in the long run; an elegant solution would be for the service provider to donate the profits to an organization which advocates against gay marriage. I am sure that would cause the customers to do what they should have done all along – to find another service provider who is happy to provide the service.

  76. I am confused. Does the word “instrincially” or “inherently” work better? Relations between a man and a man or a woman and a woman are intrinsically infertile, but relations between a man and a woman inherently contain the possibility of new life. Now, of course there are factors that can “disable” this possibility, but it is inherently there between a man and a woman.

    I wouldn’t think that anyone who has had elementary biology would consider this a matter of controversy.

  77. Ken, you make a good point about presuming that marriage, as a secular institution, is a good which is worthy of legal protection and codification. When stripped of its religious significance, of what good is marriage?

    Studies have shown benefit to the emotional and physical well-being of married couples. And I believe that marriage promotes a stability and investment which is beneficial to society. Both of those things enrich the community, and its benefits ripple through the economy.

  78. I should have said homosexual acts, which would also include sodomy. In any case, saying that it is wrong is a subjective statement not an objective truth. That was the point I was trying to make.

  79. Gay marriage is legal in this country. When married gays say they are married, they are telling the truth. That’s all the truth that you need to know about this subject.

  80. They have a right to the pursuit of happiness. Whether they find it or not is not the issue. The right to marry is consistent with the right to pursue happiness.

  81. the case we are discussing is not refusing to serve an individual because of any personal characteristic. It is refusing to provide a service for an EVENT they find objectionable.

    But their objection to the event is based on the personal characteristics of the individuals purchasing the service.

    And your solution isn’t much of a solution if it puts the customer in a position where they might not be able to get the service; if you’re in a small town and there’s only one bakery and they don’t believe in mixed race marriage should such a couple be forced to travel somewhere else to get the service? This sounds like the old “separate but equal” idea.

  82. As I noted, it looks like an “ought” question to me. I’ve never yet found getting shared agreement as to the basis of an is-ought bridge “straightforward”; and without that, ought questions aren’t “straightforward” either.

    (And that’s without getting into the difference between “straightforward” and “able to be answered in brief”, nor proximate versus underlying causation, which add at least two more food-service sized cans of worms.)

  83. “But their objection to the event is based on the personal characteristics of the individuals purchasing the service.”

    Not necessarily. The people purchasing the service could be the parents of one of the people getting “married” and I’m sure the owner would still object.

    “if you’re in a small town and there’s only one bakery”

    I guess, in that case, both parties would be unhappy. If they strongly objected, they could offer to bake the cake, but make it clear that they’d prefer not to, and where their money would be going. Then, it would be the customers choice of what to do.

  84. The people purchasing the service could be the parents of one of the
    people getting “married” and I’m sure the owner would still object.

    And their objection would still be based on the personal characteristics of the persons receiving the service, even if indirectly.

    If they strongly objected, they could offer to bake the cake, but make it clear that they’d prefer not to, and where their money would be going. Then, it would be the customers choice of what to do.

    I guess they could do that, but being rude to your customers is just bad business. A racist baker could tell a mixed race couple that the money would go to the KKK too…or the nice Jewish couple that they were donating to the Aryan Nations. Might not be good for their image though…

  85. “And their objection would still be based on the personal characteristics of the persons receiving the service.”

    It is possible that people would object to gay marriage because they believe that marriage has to be between a man and a woman, and still not have anything against homosexuals.

    “being rude to your customers is just bad business.”

    Sure it is, but lawsuits are worse business. If one finds themselves unable in conscience to contribute to what they feel is an objectionable event, but they have no conscience rights under the law, then their options are pretty limited.

  86. “In any case, saying that it is wrong is a subjective statement not an objective truth.”
    If it’s so, you’ve given us no reason whatsoever to agree with you.

  87. How many people have actually presented that as a serious argument, rather than as a strawman to demolish?

  88. Rebecca:

    I own a catering hall. As a Roman Catholic, I believe that a woman cannot be ordained as a priest. My neighbor, an Episcopalian is about to being ordained as a female priest in the Episcopal church. She has asked me to provide the hall for her reception. Should I be allowed to refuse on religious grounds, that what she is doing violates my personal religious convictions? My answer is no. Do you agree?

  89. pesq87,

    I took the liberty of dividing this comment in half. Your second part, which at least addresses the question of compromise is the FIRST such attempt this post has inspired. Every other comment has been from people who maintain that there should be no compromise and that religious freedoms should be forfeit to gay marriage.

    For that reason, I want that part of your reply to have its own space.

    Now. To this first question. I don’t want to be rude, but are you serious? Do you really think that a reception is reason enough to set aside the First Amendment rights of the entire American populace? This is nonsense.

    Now, if the government was preventing the church from making the decision to allow the ordination of women deacons, you would be onto something. But … a reception … for a person who is freely able to do business with this facility the rest of the time? I don’t think you understand what discrimination is, and that you have it confused with being told no by anyone at anytime about anything, including when the no is simply a refusal to validate your choices and participate in your activies.

  90. Here is the second part of your comment above.

    Also, you asked where can the compromise be when it comes to freedom of conscience. I might propose that a bona fide church (obviously) and a church affiliated organization that (like a church) is specifically designed to inculcate values in this or the next generation should be able to refuse to “do business” for a gay marriage. But if you otherwise operate a business that serves the public, you must serve the public. I think the alternative (being subject to the whims of an innkeeper) is bad public policy and frankly, unworkable. It won’t work if we can unfairly discriminate and then conveniently cry “freedom of conscience.”

  91. Donalbain, I think the objection is the requirement to participate in a same-sex wedding. The photographer is an important presence at most US weddings. The florist often installs and arranges flowers at the wedding venue in preparation for the marriage. Do you see why such persons might balk at doing these things which are opposed by their faith?