The Gay Marriage Fight that Should Unify the Right

As we endure the oral arguments over California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court this week, things are likely to get a little chippy here on Ricochet. This site often acts as a mirror of the conservative movement itself, and we’ve seen, essentially from the day we opened our virtual doors, that there are few issues that engender as much protracted debate here as gay marriage.

Now, I’ll confess up front that I favor gay marriage as a policy matter (the legal arguments before the Court are a different issue altogether). If you want to litigate that point in the comments, fine, but we’ve been down that road a million times before and I think the arguments are pretty well-rehearsed. You either think the definition of marriage is fixed as a metaphysical matter or that it’s capable of evolution. For what it’s worth, I’ve found the arguments on this site for the position contrary to mine better than what I’ve found virtually anywhere else.

There seems to be a growing recognition amongst both supporters and detractors, however, that this increasingly looks like a fait accompli. Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t advance the ball down the field, the sea change in public opinion seems to presage a day in the not-too-distant future when gay marriage will be something approaching the norm. Which is why all of us on the right would do well to heed Erick Erickson’s message over at RedState:

Once the world decides that real marriage is something other than natural or Godly, those who would point it out must be silenced and, if not, punished. The state must be used to do this. Consequently, the libertarian pipe dream of getting government out of marriage can never ever be possible.

Within a year or two we will see Christian schools attacked for refusing to admit students whose parents are gay. We will see churches suffer the loss of their tax exempt status for refusing to hold gay weddings. We will see private businesses shut down because they refuse to treat as legitimate that which perverts God’s own established plan. In some places this is already happening.

Christians should, starting yesterday, work on a new front. While we should not stop the fight to preserve marriage, and we may be willing to compromise on civil unions, we must start fighting now for protections for religious objectors to gay marriage.

Churches, businesses, and individuals who refuse to accept gay marriage as a legitimate institution must be protected as best we can. Those protections will eventually crumble as the secular world increasingly fights the world of God, but we should institute those protections now and pray they last as long as possible.

Now, I obviously don’t share Erickson’s core convictions about marriage and there are several parts of his commentary that I find overwrought (including his title, “Gay Marriage and Religious Freedom Are Not Compatible” — if that’s the case, one wonders what the point of his exhortation in those last two paragraphs above is). I also think both the time frame and some of the examples are probably excessively pessimistic. But I think he’s right about the underlying dynamic.

Just a few years ago, this may have seemed hyperbolic. But that was before HHS was requiring employers to underwrite contraception, the EEOC was seeking to classify a failure to hire ex-cons as a “disparate impact” violation, and a Christian wedding photographer in New Mexico was being accused of discrimination for refusing to shoot a gay wedding. The left never seems to be happy until they’ve forced people who disagree with them to sacrifice their rights to free association on the altar of tolerance (“tolerance” defined by the left as the capacity to shut up on command).

I want a “leave me alone” society — one where Christian schools can turn people away for rejecting their doctrine, just as gay rights groups can reject those who don’t share their beliefs. I don’t want us all to get along — not because I’m misanthropic (well, not just because I’m misanthropic), but because I know that “consensus” is usually a fancy word for muting minority viewpoints. I want us all to be free to be annoyed with each other from our separate corners. Is that too much to ask?

On the core point, Erickson is right. The coming fight is preserving what’s left of the rights of free association and conscience. That fight, in my judgment, has much more to do with the preservation of basic American liberties than the one playing out in the Supreme Court this week.

  1. Frozen Chosen

    All this fuss for 3% of the population.  Surely there must be something other than marriage driving the gay agenda?

  2. katievs

    It’s not a practical principle exactly, but it’s true nonetheless: Whatever is good and true unifies.  Whatever is evil and false disunifies.

    Why has the country come to peace over the abolition of slavery and civil rights movement?  Because those were just causes, however bitterly contested for a time.

    Why is the country still wretchedly divided 4o years after Roe v Wade?  Because abortion is a grave evil, objectively inimical to the natural law and the founding “doctrine” of our nation.  

    The legalization of SSM will cause deep and deepening disunity.

  3. Mendel

    Much of the handwringing over forcing the churches to provide services to gay couples is overwrought.  

    Only last year, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that religious freedom allows churches to exclude anyone they please from their institutions.  And nobody disputes the legality of the Catholic Church denying its sacraments (such as communion) to non-Catholics or Catholics not in good standing.  I doubt any court would give a lawsuit by a gay couple wanting to be married in a church the time of day.

    Which isn’t to say those lawsuits/public campaigns aren’t coming.  But in many ways, that is a fight we should all welcome: the chance to explain that the rights of churches to exclude people who do not share their beliefs is greater than the right of people to not be “discriminated” against.

  4. Merina Smith

    Wow, Mendel and Troy, it’s sweet how you trust that accommodation can be made with the left.  Has experience taught you nothing? 

  5. Keith

    And this is a reason to support Rand Paul, even if you think his father was possibly a bigot or racist for not suporting the civil rights act and wanting to place a high value on the rights of free association, and the freedom to contract with whomever you wish tio contract with.

    Someone has to have the guts to stand against political correctness and these socialists/nanny-statists that have an incurable desire to control everyone because they think they know better than you do.

    I also want a “leave me alone” society.

    I support you in your fight to preserve what’s left of the rights of free association and conscience.

    edited a typo

  6. Mendel
    Merina Smith: Wow, Mendel and Troy, it’s sweet how you trust that accommodation can be made with the left.  Has experience taught you nothing?  

    I don’t see any accomodation.  I think the fight for religious freedom is the central issue that should be fought to the death.

    But I also don’t see government sanctioning of gay relationships as a religious issue (here goes that debate again…).

    Our system of liberties in America is founded on the principle that everyone wants the whole cake, and we compromise by giving everyone one whole piece and but denying them another.   We separate spheres, and rights granted within one sphere are not necessarily transferable to another.  

    Our society needs to re-learn how to live with the conflicts inherent in limited rights.  I welcome the chance for religious liberty to reaffirm its right  to include and exclude whomever it pleases.

  7. DrewInWisconsin
    Frozen Chosen: All this fuss for 3% of the population.  Surely there must be something other than marriage driving the gay agenda?

    I’m wondering how many of that 3% even want to get married.

  8. DrewInWisconsin
    Mendel

    In a way, I welcome the chance for religious liberty to reaffirm its right to include and exclude whomever it pleases. 

    I don’t see too many strong advocates well-placed and ready to fight that fight. That HHS mandate is still hanging over us, isn’t it?

  9. SteveS

    I agree whole heartedly Troy that the real issue remains “the preservation of basic American liberties”.

     The church may suffer loss, which it certainly has throughout history in various forms of persecution and attempted eradications, but survives because of God’s will and claim that His kingdom was never of this world and can never be extinguished but shall `always outlive it’s pall bearers. 

    The real danger is in the very foundations of liberty this great nation has been erected upon and when once removed this proud edifice of freedom may be destroyed forever.

    Frozen Chosen: All this fuss for 3% of the population.  Surely there must be something other than marriage driving the gay agenda? · 6 minutes ago

    This battle as you lay it out Troy is not with “3% of the population” but with a growing majority of Statists and Leftists throughout our country and the world, mind you, hell bent on  manipulating anyone with an agenda, for their own evil purposes and desire for “fundamental transformation”.

  10. SteveS
    Mendel

    Merina Smith: Wow, Mendel and Troy, it’s sweet how you trust that accommodation can be made with the left.  Has experience taught you nothing?  

    I don’t see any accomodation.  I think the fight for religious freedom is the central issue that should be fought to the death.

    But I also don’t see government sanctioning of gay relationships as a religious issue (here goes that debate again…).

    Our system of liberties in America is founded on the principle that everyone wants the whole cake, and we compromise by giving everyone one whole piece and but denying them another.   We separate spheres, and rights granted within one sphere are not transferable to another.  

    Our society needs to re-learn how to live with the conflicts inherent in limited rights. In a way, I welcome the chance for religious liberty to reaffirm its right  to include and exclude whomever it pleases. · 4 minutes ago

    Edited 2 minutes ago

    I agree with your definition of the correct battle to wage but is your hope really in the courts to defend our religious liberties. The fight for religious freedom surfaced in a healthcare law through HHS for Pete’s sake.

  11. Mendel
    DrewInWisconsin

    Mendel

    I don’t see too many strong advocates well-placed and ready to fight that fight. That HHS mandate is still hanging over us, isn’t it? 

    How about the Supreme Court?  Last year they voted 9-0 that a religious school had the right to fire a disabled teacher under the protections of religious liberty.   That seems like a pretty staunch defense of the right to free association for churches to me.

  12. SteveS
    Keith Bruzelius: And this is a reason to support Rand Paul, even if you think his father was possibly a bigot or racist for not suporting the civil rights act and wanting to place a high value on the rights of free association, and the freedom to contract with whomever you wish tio contract with.

    Someone has to have the guts to stand against plitical correctness and these socialists/nanny-statists that have an incurable desire to control everyone because they think they know better than you do.

    I also want a “leave me alone” society.

    I support you in your fight to preserve what’s left of the rights of free association and conscience. · 13 minutes ago

    Rand Paul, with all due respect, has one filibuster along with some speeches and he has now been anointed King George The Dragon slayer. 

    My money is on Gov. Scott Walker who is really in the fray fighting for freedom and liberty everyday.

  13. Frederick Key

    Erickson is about 1000000000% right on this. In any event, I am so sick of this topic I make Samuel L. Jackson look like he positively loves snakes on airplanes by comparison.

  14. Merina Smith
    Mendel

    Merina Smith: Wow, Mendel and Troy, it’s sweet how you trust that accommodation can be made with the left.  Has experience taught you nothing?  

    I don’t see any accomodation.  I think the fight for religious freedom is the central issue that should be fought to the death.

    But I also don’t see government sanctioning of gay relationships as a religious issue (here goes that debate again…).

    Our system of liberties in America is founded on the principle that everyone wants the whole cake, and we compromise by giving everyone one whole piece and but denying them another.   We separate spheres, and rights granted within one sphere are not necessarily transferable to another.  

    Our society needs to re-learn how to live with the conflicts inherent in limited rights.  I welcome the chance for religious liberty to reaffirm its right  to include and exclude whomever it pleases. · 18 minutes ago

    Edited 13 minutes ago

    Well, Mendel, I live with (am married to) a church/state scholar who has published extensively on this subject who is pretty sure that the marriage battle is a key component of this.  With all due respect, I think you are naïve. 

  15. Douglas

    “There seems to be a growing recognition amongst both supporters and detractors, however, that this increasingly looks like a fait accompli.”

    Standing athwart history yelling “But I wouldn’t want to offend anyone..”

  16. Douglas
    Keith Bruzelius:

    I also want a “leave me alone” society.

    All you’re going to get is a leftist mandate society. 

  17. Mendel
    Merina Smith

    Mendel

    Merina Smith: 

    Well, Mendel, I live with (am married to) a church/state scholar who has published extensively on this subject who is pretty sure that the marriage battle is a key component of this. 

    Merina, could you please elaborate on this?  

    Does your spouse think that legalizing gay marriage will de jure force churches to marry gay couples against their will?  I was under the impression that churches don’t have to marry anyone they don’t want to (i.e. Catholic churches can’t be forced to marry Muslims). Am I wrong?

    Or does he think that the general sanction of gay marriage by society violates the religious freedom, even if churches are not coerced into recognizing them?

    Or something else entirely?

  18. Merina Smith

    He could do it better, but I’ll give it a go. First, the freedom of association was shot down in the Hastings case against the Christian Legal Society there. That’s one bulwark that would be a protection for churches gone.  The HHS mandate is another assault on religious freedom, which shows that the left cares not a whit about conscience.  It’s a ridiculously small thing for people to buy their own contraceptives, yet the Obama administration insists on putting that burden on the consciences of religious people.  It does not bode well.  The left is very good at first marginalizing a point of view and then rendering anyone who doesn’t agree with them as proponents of hate.  Then come hate speech codes–you know the drill.  If a group gets heightened scrutiny, it’s game over, baby.  That’s when people start to be prosecuted for refusing to marry ss couples, etc.

    In the academy, secular scholars are increasingly coming to say that religion does not deserve the special protection that it has traditionally had on account of the good it does and the requirements of conscience.  If that goes, there goes the tax free status. 

  19. Percival

    Wow.  That’s awfully nice of you guys.  If we just surrender now, you’ll throw us a bone and help out when they come after the churches.  Thanks.  That will make all the difference, because the Republican Party is so good at tactical withdrawals just prior to brilliant strategic victories.

    I am so enthused.

  20. jkumpire
    Frozen Chosen: All this fuss for 3% of the population.  Surely there must be something other than marriage driving the gay agenda? · 1 hour ago

    It is simple: Gay people are trying to find a way to justify their lifestyle and find affirmation for something that harms them and society. They want to be justified in their own minds that to be first and foremost gay is perfectly normal. So now that they find acceptance among a certain number of people they believe that they can make everyone else accept their lifestyle choices too.

    It’s a shame for all of us.