You wouldn’t know it by listening to most of the mainstream dialogue, but there is much more at stake in the LGBT culture wars than specific questions of gay marriage. The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down state bans against that institution was a startling rejection of democracy, but the pragmatic ramifications are even worse. You can believe wholeheartedly that gays should be allowed to marry and still be very troubled about the second prong of this movement.
That prong was perhaps best symbolized by Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who spent six days in jail last year for refusing to betray her own conscience and issue marriage licenses to gay couples. It has also reared its head in several stories of Christian business owners who have been harshly penalized for what the courts have called “discrimination.” Note: None of these businesses discriminated against gay customers; they merely chose not to specifically participate in gay wedding ceremonies. The left sees no difference, of course.
Court rulings have been nearly unanimous in these cases: LGBT rights, somehow, trump the First Amendment.
Religious freedom is one of the cornerstones of our country. It always has been. Our Bill of Rights forbids the government from interfering with that freedom and places upon it the burden of making sure that no one else does, either. Our government is charged with protecting and defending that freedom, not finding new and inventive ways to destroy it.
Even if all of America agreed that gay marriage was a good thing – even if there was just one lone person in Idaho somewhere who had a religious objection to it – it would be our responsibility as a nation to make sure that lone objector did not have to compromise his beliefs.
Freedom is meaningless if it comes down to: “Do what you want, unless we have a problem with it.”
We’ve decided as a society that we will not allow religious freedom claims to justify discrimination. You can’t refuse to hire women because of something you read in the Koran. That doesn’t fly.
But choosing not to issue a gay wedding license or choosing not to cater a gay wedding…that’s not really discrimination. Events do not enjoy constitutional protection. No one should be legally forced to participate in something with which they disagree. That’s not just a violation of religious freedom, it’s a violation of that other part of the First Amendment: Freedom of speech.