The bogus opposition to same-sex marriage

Print More
Print by Stephen Alcorn

Print by Stephen Alcorn

If the arguments made in American courts against same-sex marriage were the real reasons for opposition to it, there would be a lot less opposition than there is. In fact, there would be virtually no opposition at all.

You doubt it? Find some opponents and ask if they’d change their minds if SSM turns out not to adversely affect opposite-sex marriage, parent-child bonding, the abortion rate, etc. Dollars to donuts, they will all stick to their position. Why? Because their real reasons for opposing SSM are religious. They believe their faith proscribes it.

But whether they like it or not, the constitutional ban on religious establishments — the separation of church and state — won’t permit them to tell the Supreme Court: “Leviticus condemns gay sex and therefore the United States must not permit a man to marry another man.” So they have to come up with non-faith-based arguments.

I’m not suggesting that the opponents are necessarily insincere in claiming that SSM will have adverse social effects; and who knows, they may even be right (though I very much doubt it). But what they’re really concerned about is the adverse effect of societal recognition of SSM on their own lives as religious individuals and communities. And, to the extent that opposition to SSM is a deeply held religious value of theirs, they have reason to be concerned.

In this week’s oral argument before the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Scalia insisted that a determination of a constitutional right to SSM would mean requiring clergy to perform same-sex weddings. This concern was contested by plaintiff’s attorney Mary Bonauto and waved away by Justice Kagan, who pointed out that a rabbi is not obliged to marry a Jew and a non-Jew, even though such a marriage is constitutionally guaranteed.

Chief Justice Roberts dismissed Scalia too, though more gently. “We have a concession from your friend that clergy will not be required to perform same-sex marriage, but there are going to be harder questions,” he told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. “Would a religious school that has married housing be required to afford such housing to same-sex couples?” Verrilli gave a complicated response that suggested that the answer would come down to how particular states decided to enforce their civil rights laws.

Then, noting that the Court had determined (in the 1983 Bob Jones case) that a college was not entitled to a tax exemption if it opposed inter-racial dating or marriage, Justice Alito asked Verrilli, “So, would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” That, Verrilli conceded, “is going to be an issue.”

Why should a religious objection to same-sex marriage be given greater deference than a religious objection to mixed-race marriage? If the only reason is that in many jurisdictions there is no law against discrimination based on sexual orientation (as opposed to race or gender), that just begs the question.

You might say that Bob Jones was wrongly decided, and that an institution of higher learning that institutionalizes racial separation for religious reasons should have been allowed to do so without losing its tax exemption. But if you agree with the result in Bob Jones, I don’t see how you can uphold a comparable institution’s right to discriminate against same-sex relationships. Likewise, I don’t see how florists and bakers can be denied the right to refuse their services to mixed-race couples while being permitted to refuse their services to same-sex couples.

Now consider the following scenario:

A man and a woman walk into a bakery and order a cake for their upcoming wedding. “Do you want an inscription with your names on it?” asks the baker. “Yes we would,” says the woman. “Just ‘Alice and George’ will do.” “Oh, and by the way,” says the baker. “Have either of you been divorced?” “Why yes,” George replies. “I was divorced 20 years ago.” “Sorry,” says the baker. “Divorce is against my religion. Jesus said, ‘What God has joined together, let no one separate.’ I’m a Catholic and my church won’t marry a divorced couple. I won’t cooperate either. Find yourself another baker.”

So far as I know, this has never occurred. But should the law allow it?

  • boarderthom

    Regarding this culture war: If these Christian bakers are all so high-minded, charitable and tolerant why don’t they just tell their gay customers that they will be making an extra-large donation to their church from the profits from the cake?
    That way we all win.
    Remember that a culture of peace, diversity and tolerance is a pretty good foundation for living in peace.
    May we live in cultural peace. May we live in peace.

  • Chaplain Martin

    Mark,
    We all know the a baker or candle stick maker could simply say, “we don’t have time to bake your cake, make your candle. You’ll just have to get someone else.”
    There are all kind of scenarios people can come up with in the gay marriage cases.

    However, people of faith should not have to do something goes directly against against their beliefs.

    I expect the Supreme Court to make a very narrow ruling on the case. The court should make a clear ruling that will protect those who seek a same sex union and those whose religion oppose being any part of such such a wedding.

    Did Bob Jones University receive some sort of federal aide, or federal backed loans?

  • You’re getting your money’s worth, Kevin Jennings.

  • Wallace

    Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada for more than a decade, and yet somehow our hetero marriages remain intact as do our society’s children. Why does nobody mention that?

  • James Carr

    I don’t care at all for the whimsical way that religious views on marriage are professed here. Christians are not backwater fanatics, or homophobic blockades to gay marriage. History itself, human history, has held the belief that marriage is a male/female bond….and the idea of gay marriage has never before entered the consciousness of mankind. Perhaps it is the religious voice that is the only source left to remind us of moral duty and forewarn us of future redefinitions of marriage that will arise from this legalization.
    As to the formerly divorced couple being denied a cake…..the possibilities are slim for denial , but should the baker truly be offended on religious grounds, then, yes, he has the right to refuse. Still, a second or third marriage involves a male/female union…..it is not a “different” arrangement…..such as wanting to marry your pet dog because you love it.

  • Greg

    Yes, James, I cannot believe the so called Christians who go along with this twist of Our Lord’s sacrament. It is destructive, and will have long term negative repercussions to not only society, but civilization at large. What did our Lord say about lukewarm followers? “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16);.

  • James Carr

    ….and I will provide the Spitoon for Him….once I get out of Purgatory.

  • samuel Johnston

    James,
    I don’t care at all for the whimsical way that religious views ..
    Love your neighbor, defend the weak, resist vanity, spitefulness, and greed, be useful, lead by example, take joy in life, always seek further insight, …
    These are among the “religious views” I respect.
    Legalisms, tribalism, rewards in the next life, advantage in this life, and membership in some “special club” are views that I do not respect.
    The supernatural is impossible by definition.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    “Christians are not backwater fanatics, or homophobic blockades to gay marriage”

    Not all American Christians are, but some are. The federal judge who revoked the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote had in his possession an email written by Catholic bishops to Mormon leaders in which they both agreed to violate California campaign finance laws to throw the H8te Vote by making secret, illegal cash and in-kind contributions to the H8te Vote. The email serves as proof positive they knew they were breaking the law; the email itself is an act of criminal collusion. Here is documentation about that email:

    latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/01/documents-show-close-links-between-prop-8-campaign-and-mormon-catholic-churches.html#comments

    The email was included in the evidence the US Supreme Court reviewed before that Court affirmed the revocation of the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote. Clearly, the criminal acts committed by Mormons and other anti-gays failed.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    “the idea of gay marriage has never before entered the consciousness of mankind.”

    Wrong:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_same-sex_unions

  • CarrotCakeMan

    “forewarn us of future redefinitions of marriage”

    Yawn, that same old, “marry your sister, marry your dog” lie.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    That’s because all these anti-gay bakers, florists and photographers were recruited by members of the “Alliance Defending Freedom Of Faith” before they committed those crimes, with the promise from this “Alliance” that the “Alliance” would provide free legal representation and pay all fines involved. Anyone who looks at the website of this “Alliance” can confirm that.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Sorry, baking a cake, taking photos, making bouttonières–none of those are “religious acts.” No loving, committed same gender American couple will EVER ask the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, the lead anti-gay church, to marry them–or any other anti-gay church. Why would they? These denominations will marry same gender couples in the 36 US States and the District of Columbia that honor their Freedom Of Religion: Affirming Pentecostal Church Int’l, Alliance of Christian Churches, Anointed Affirming Independent Ministries, The Assoc. of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Community of Christ, Conservative Judaism, Ecumenical Catholic Church, Ecumenical Catholic Communion, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Anglican Church In America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Global Alliance of Affirming Apostolic Pentecostals, Inclusive Orthodox Church, Moravian Church Northern Province, Metropolitan Community Church…

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Old Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church USA, Progressive Christian Alliance, Reconciling Pentecostals International, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, Reformed Anglican Catholic Church, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarian Universalist Church, United Church of Christ, Unity Church…

  • CarrotCakeMan

    Factual information does not advance the anti-gay political agenda some churches are attempting to promote.

  • Doc Anthony

    We’re not going to live in “peace”, Boarderthom. Time to be realistic.

    Regardless of what the Supremes do or don’t do this summer, many many Christians have decided to continue agreeing with their Bibles, the word of God. In word and in deed, they’re going to continue speaking out against this unprecedented national evil of gay marriage. They will not kowtow and compromise their Biblical faith when the gay activists knock on their doors.

    Many of them may experience economic loss, or punishment, or even get shut down. Christian businesses, schools, social agencies, daycares, or Non-Profits, may experience economic reprisals or courthouse revenge from the Gay Activists. Even individual churches may find activists threatening their “tax-exempt status.” Christians and churches that don’t KOWTOW will find themselves PUNISHED.

    But that’s far better than “peace” at any cost. That’s better than selling out to the Gay Marriage Religion. Gotta take a stand.

  • Doc Anthony

    The jury is still out regarding some issues in post-gay-marriage Canada, but already there is clear and serious DAMAGE going on up there, as a result of legalized gay marriage.

    Here’s a brief warning about the ongoing mess in Canada:

    http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_28020175/canada-cautionary-tale-gay-marriage-letter

  • unclemike

    All of those “dangers” in that article are the same tired old arguments against equality that the Supreme Court already considered and then found lacking. Try again, hater.

  • Larry

    The people seeking discrimination in their business against gay weddings for “religious reasons” are going to get their behinds handed to them.

    Open commerce is not a religious rite. If those vendors were sincerely not trying to discriminate against the customers, they wouldn’t be doing so. There are always options for businesses when dealing with potential unreasonable situations or an alleged “crisis of conscience” that do not involve discriminatory conduct. The only people who will be protected under such circumstances are those not engaging in open commerce: Churches/chapels/denominational officiants.

  • Larry

    More like you have no clear or credible evidence of any harm being done in Canadian society coming from it. So you have no

    The most dishonest arguments made by the anti-gay crowd is treating gay marriage in the hypothetical. If you had a rational basis to such objections, you would find evidence to support it in the places where marriage equality is legal.

    Ten years going and still “caution”. Try paranoia instead.

  • Greg

    Doc, good article. Yes allowing homosexual marriage is the beginning of the end of parental rights as we know them. The words, “bizarre, weird, strange, odd, etc.” come to mind when I hear these things. The weather up there must be colder than it has been rumored, as the politicians there are apparently experiencing brain freeze.

  • James Carr

    Sam, we don’t get to choose which parts of God’s Will we accept as right, and reject what we think is wrong. It is what it is.

  • samuel Johnston

    James,
    And you, you lucky devil, KNOW the will of a/the supernatural being. Poor me, I do not- and it is not for lack of trying. “To you it is given, to them it is not given”.
    Seems a bit odd to me that anyone can have such a high opinion of themselves that they claim the primacy to be members of the “elect”. At best they can only claim fortune, because merit would be quite demanding. So the monks invented “grace” which really solves nothing, except to remove merit from the selection process and only asks acceptance of their (the monks’) authority. But this is merely a snare to capture vanity. I prefer to live this life as well as I can manage. Speculation is hardly a rational plan, nor one that regards ethical behavior as inherently valuable. Life is inherently valuable, so that which assists life is ethical. Speculation is merely an intellectual exercise, and of no further consequence.

  • Tom Downs

    “However, people of faith should not have to do something goes directly against against their beliefs.”
    Should you wish become the law of the land, I predict that the next new religion will be one that believes paying taxes is a sin.

  • Jack

    Samuel, explain your claim that “the supernatural is impossible by definition.”

    More to the point, explain how it is that you have somehow arrived at this supposed certainty which has eluded virtually all of the great philosophers in history.

  • Jack

    “The monks invented grace.”

    Really?

    Funny, but I read about grace not only in the New Testament writings which were written down and circulated long before “the monks” arrived on the scene, but also in the Old Testament books which were written many centuries before those monks.

  • Jack

    Larry, you’ve said nothing of substance in response to the religious freedom issue. What you fail to understand is that when one person’s rights are endangered on one issue, other people’s rights are endangered on all others. FYI, religious freedom includes an individual’s right to be an atheist as well as a theist or an agnostic.

    Not that you really care about anything other than what suits you at the moment, but principles really are of practical importance because if they’re broken at someone else’s expense, they will likely be broken at your expense eventually.

  • Jack

    Mark Silk knows or should know that there’s a difference between a bakery owner’s refusal to serve people, period, and that owner’s refusal to put a particular inscription or message on a cake.

  • samuel Johnston

    Jack,
    If you prefer the more formal “theologians” (the first word I considered), then I stand corrected. Ideas are mighty hard to trace to their origins because in the middle east there have been priesthoods speculating and making unsupported claims, since before the invention of writing, way, way before Abraham.

  • Garson Abuita

    I mentioned this on Tobin’s article but why not repeat it here. Bob Jones relied on at least two factors not present in the same-sex marriage cases: (1) racial equality in education was a compelling governmental interest; (2) strict scrutiny was applied to BJU’s racial classification, as opposed to the rational-basis review given to almost all other classifications, including sexual orientation. Bob Jones has a specter here but it doesn’t directly imply the legality of any future revocation of tax-exempt status.

  • Norm Martin

    “So the monks invented “grace” which really solves nothing, except to remove merit from the selection process…”

    The word “grace” appears 129 times in the Bible. No way does the grace of God relieve a believer from responsibility.

    Rom 6:1-2
    1. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid.” ASV

  • Larry

    There is no religious freedom issue here. We aren’t talking about the free exercise of religion. Opposing something on religious grounds is not license to discriminate in open commerce or avoid laws of general application (like anti-discrimation laws).

    We have people claiming religious freedom as excuses for actions but not actually understanding the concept. Pretty much every time a Christian conservative is rebuked for acting in an obnoxious or harmful manner, they scream “persecution”.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Norm,
    I never said what you accuse me of. I said ““grace” which really solves nothing, except to remove merit from the divine selection process…”
    The parable of the talents supports merit. Grace merely substitutes acceptance of authority for merit. As usual, the Bible can be selectively quoted to support almost any theological position, except perhaps atheism or universalism. Well, I never claimed that it did.

  • James Carr

    I never said I was part of the elect, nor that I was superior to anyone. Belonging to the Catholic Church, though, does give me access to all that God has revealed…….so I am more fortunate than non-Catholics. Monks did not invent grace or even the idea of it.Protestant anger must have created that theory.
    My ultimate fate is up to God, but I can never be accused of not knowing what He has revealed.

  • samuel Johnston

    @James,
    The Catholic church claims to be the chosen, empowered (to open and close the gates to the afterlife, and more) sole representative of the one and only almighty God. They have invented a brand new Goddess (Mary) and claim the sole authorized power to make valid doctrine (and invent new inferior gods (saints).
    Now you just cannot imagine how some poor ignorant Protestant might consider these claims and powers immodest – even an arrogant usurpation of power.
    On the larger scale, most of humanity is not Christian, so they too might disagree. Now you contend that you and yours are not a group of “elect”. Forget the game of words, just consider my meaning.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    It’s word games time again. Impossible -can’t be done. possible -can be done. Natural world/universe- what we live in. Supernatural- that which is not natural, to wit: impossible by the rules of the world we live in.
    Before Darwin, there was really no explanation of natural creation, and how/why it diversified. That is why deism became a sort of default position and why it has virtually disappeared. Now we have only science and ancestor worship.
    Finally, “all of the great philosophers in history” have been superseded regarding the operation of the natural world, by Darwin’s discovery. If you would like brain/heart surgery performed by “all of the great philosophers in history” rather than one trained in science, then you are truly a sincere believer in the supernatural.