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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

        • 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 …. 🙂

          • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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”?

        • 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

          • 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?

            • 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

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

            • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

                • 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?

            • 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.

              • 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.

  2. 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!!

    • 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.

    • 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

                • 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.

              • 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.

            • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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”.

        • 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.

  6. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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.

              • 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.

                • 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.

                  • “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.

                    • 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…

                    • “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.

  7. ” 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.

  8. 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.

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

    • 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?

  10. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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.”

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