Dr. Ryan Anderson writes about the threat to religious liberty in National Review.
Thomas Messner, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has documented multiple instances in which laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as laws redefining marriage, have already eroded religious liberty and the rights of conscience.
After Massachusetts redefined marriage to include same-sex relationships, Catholic Charities of Boston faced a mandate to place children with same-sex couples. Rather than go against its principles, Catholic Charities decided to get out of the adoption business — a move that helps neither the orphans nor society. When Massachusetts public schools began teaching grade-school students about same-sex marriage, the town of Lexington’s school superintendent, Paul Ash, defended the decision to the Boston Globe with this statement: “Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal.” A Massachusetts appellate court ruled that parents have no right to exempt their children from these classes.
The New Mexico Human Rights Commission prosecuted a photographer for declining to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” Doctors in California were successfully sued for declining to perform an artificial insemination on a woman in a same-sex relationship. Owners of a bed-and-breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil-union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law. A Georgia wellness counselor was fired after she referred someone in a same-sex relationship to another counselor.
In fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports that “over 350 separate state anti-discrimination provisions would likely be triggered by recognition of same-sex marriage.”
In a letter sent to priests, deacons, and pastoral facilitators in 131 parishes, the Catholic bishop of Springfield, Ill., explains that a same-sex-marriage bill state lawmakers are considering this year does not include meaningful protections for religious liberty:
[It] would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex “weddings.” It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally “married” to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so “married” from senior leadership positions. . . . This “religious freedom” law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act” forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois. . . . There is no possible way– none whatsoever — for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an “unfair” view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry — which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment.
Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum, an appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, argues that the push to redefine marriage trumps religious-liberty concerns:
For all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed-and-breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making that decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.
Indeed, for many supporters of redefining marriage, such infringements on religious liberty are not flaws but virtues of the movement.
Now, I have previously written that a good case can be made against same-sex marriage on secular grounds alone, but make no mistake – the more gay rights advance, the more religious liberty declines. This issue is not about equality, it’s about trampling on the rights of anyone who voices any disagreement with the gay lifestyle.