[VIDEO] Should a Creative Professional Have the Freedom to Decline Work that Conflicts with their Conscience or Beliefs?Posted: March 13, 2017
Everyone agreed that a creative professional should have the foundational freedom to decline work that conflicts with their conscience or beliefs. But, when faced with a situation that goes against current cultural expectations, like a Christian photographer declining to promote a same-sex wedding, the gears start grinding. If a law that forces someone to promote something against their beliefs is so laughable, so unimaginable…then why is it so difficult to extend the same freedom to a Christian creative professional?
BREAKING: Kentucky Clerk Who Refused to Issue Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples Held in Contempt of CourtPosted: September 3, 2015
68% of Conservatives Identifies Court as Liberal
Following major, end-of-term rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage, unfavorable opinions of the Supreme Court have reached a 30-year high. And opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided.
“Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court ‘are often influenced by their own political views.’ Just 24% say they ‘generally put their political views aside. when deciding cases.”
Currently, 48% of Americans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court, while 43% view the court unfavorably. Unfavorable opinions of the court, while up only modestly since March (39%), are the highest recorded since 1985.
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 14-20 among 2,002 adults, finds that most of the increase in unfavorable views of the Supreme Court has come among Republicans.
“Most Americans (54%) say that the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% say it is too powerful.”
Just 33% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of the court, while 61% have an unfavorable view. Since March, the share of Republicans viewing the court favorably has fallen 17 percentage points (from 50% to 33%), while the share with an unfavorable impression has jumped 21 percentage points (from 40% to 61%). Republicans’ views of the Supreme Court are now more negative than at any point in the past three decades.
“Only about one-in-ten (7%) thinks the court has too little power”
In contrast, Democrats’ views of the Supreme Court have become more positive since March, though the change has not been as dramatic. Currently, 62% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the court, up from 54% four months ago.
There also has been a major shift in how Americans, especially those at either end of the ideological spectrum, view the Supreme Court’s ideology. The share of the public saying the current Supreme Court is liberal has doubled since March, driven by changing attitudes among Republicans, particularly conservative Republicans.
Overall, 39% of the public views the court as middle-of-the-road, 36% as liberal and 18% as conservative. The share saying the court is liberal has increased from 26% to 36% over the past few months and stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 2007. There has been a ten-point decline in the number saying the court is conservative (18% today, 28% in March), while the share saying it is middle-of-the-road is little changed (39% now, 38% then).
Opinions about the court and its ideology have never been more politically divided
Currently, 68% of conservative Republicans say the current Supreme Court is liberal – up 20 points since March and by far the highest percentage since 2007. About a quarter of conservative Republicans (24%) say the court has a middle-of-the-road approach and 5% see it as conservative.
Liberal Democrats now generally view the current Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; in March, most saw the court as conservative. Currently, 49% of liberal Democrats say it is middle-of-the-road (up from 31% in March). Three-in-ten (30%) say it is conservative, down from 56% in March. And 17% say the court is liberal, about double the share who said this in March (8%).
Perceptions of the court’s ideology have changed less among those closer to the middle of the ideological spectrum. Moderate and liberal Republicans’ continue to be divided: 42% see the Supreme Court as middle-of-the-road; 40% say it is liberal and 13% say it is conservative. A plurality of conservative and moderate Democrats (43%) continue to say it is middle-of-the-road.
The change in independents’ views of the Supreme Court’s ideology mirrors the shift among the public: 41% say it is middle-of-the-road, little changed from 38% in March; 36% see it as liberal (up 11 points) and 18% say it is conservative (down 10 points). The share of Republican-leaning independents who say the court is liberal has risen from 38% to 54%. Just 23% of independents who lean toward the Democratic Party say the same, up a modest seven percentage points since March.
Little Change in Views of Same-Sex Marriage, Affordable Care Act. In contrast to opinions about the Supreme Court, views on two issues that were the subject of its high-profile rulings – same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law – have shown little change. Currently, 54% of Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 39% are opposed. In May, before the Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriage legal nationwide, 57% favored and 39% opposed same-sex marriage. The public is divided over the 2010 health care law: 48% approve of the law and 49% disapprove. In February, 45% approved of the health care law and 53% disapproved.
Few Think Supreme Court Justices Set Aside Their Political Views. Seven-in-ten Americans (70%) say that in deciding cases, the justices of the Supreme Court “are often influenced by their own political views.” Just 24% say they “generally put their political views aside” when deciding cases. The belief that justices are swayed by their own political views spans partisan and demographic groups. The survey also finds that a majority of the public (56%) says the court should consider the views of most Americans when deciding cases; 39% say they should not be influenced by public opinion.
Supreme Court Not Viewed as ‘Too Powerful.’ A majority (54%) says the Supreme Court has the right amount of power, while 36% think it has too much power; 7% say it has too little power. Republicans (45%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) or independents (33%) to view the court as too powerful.
Supreme Court Favorability
Partisanship, ideology and religious affiliation are all factors in views of the Supreme Court. In addition, supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage and the 2010 health care law have starkly different opinions about the Supreme Court.
By a 63% to 28% margin, those who favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally have a favorable opinion of the Supreme Court. By almost an identical margin (63% to 30%), those who oppose same-sex marriage have an unfavorable impression of the court. The association between views of the court and opinions on same-sex marriage is far stronger than in the past.
Opinions of the court among those who approve and disapprove of the 2010 health care law are similarly divided (61% of those who approve of the law have a favorable opinion of the court, compared with just 33% of those who disapprove). Supporters and opponents of the law were less divided last year, but were similarly split following the court’s 2012 term, in which it ruled the law was constitutional.
Since March, the plunge in the Supreme Court’s favorability among Republicans has largely come among conservatives. Just 27% of conservative Republicans have a favorable impression of the Supreme Court. Four months ago, nearly half (48%) did so. Among moderate and liberal Republicans, there has been a smaller, nine-point decline in positive views of the court (45% now, 54% then). Read the rest of this entry »
On Thursday, actress Susan Sarandon, most famous for citrusing her breasts in Atlantic City and driving off a cliff in Thelma and Louise, came out in support of pop brat doughnut-licker Ariana Grande
Grande was caught on tape badmouthing America after spreading her saliva on doughnuts on display; she justified that action the next day, claiming she had to fight childhood obesity by surreptitiously tonguing the sugary products. Now, Sarandon has tweeted:
Today, lick a doughnut in solidarity with @ArianaGrande. A sweet, talented, true American. 🍩🇺🇸
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) July 9, 2015
Never mind the illogic of Grande’s contention that she secretly licked doughnuts to discourage others from eating them – if she truly wanted to discourage others, she could have stomped on them publicly, or called for a nationwide boycott of doughnuts, or cut a new version of “Problem” in which Iggy Azalea raps about moving beyond doughy joy. Focus instead on the nihilism of defacing someone else’s property without their knowledge. It takes a special kind of emptiness to do something like that.
But the left is fine with that sort of behavior so long as the target is someone who hasn’t bought into leftist thought. That’s undoubtedly why Grande wrote that her doughnut-licking represented a crusade against big, bad American fatties:
As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans eat and consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole. The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me.
Read the rest of this entry »
TOKYO — John Matthews writes: In January 1999, a Shinto priest unofficially married two men in a shrine in Kawasaki, an industrial city near Tokyo. Literally “the way of the gods,” Shinto is officially the state religion of Japan, but it does not influence modern Japanese life the way that Christianity dominates in the United States. Rather, it’s more a matter of a shared culture — of ritual practices and belief in spirits — against which some people define themselves.
The ceremony took place at Kanamara Shrine, best known for its annual Festival of the Steel Phallus, during which participants pray for easy childbirth or protection from sexually transmitted diseases. Hirohiko Nakamura, the priest who performed the rites, told local media then that this was probably the first time a wedding ceremony had been held for two men in Japan. “This may become a call to seriously think about the diversity of sex,” he said.
“In Shinto, it says make many children, expand humanity, and be prosperous. And yet, it’s not explicitly written anywhere that homosexuality is wrong or a sin.”
— Hisae Nakamura
Fast-forward 16 years. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, overturning decades of often active and religiously motivated government discrimination against a minority of Americans. In Japan, gay marriage remains illegal — except for in one district, or ward, in Tokyo, which began recognizing same-sex marriages in March. A month earlier, conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has been arguing for revising Japan’s Constitution to allow a more assertive military, said that reforming the Japanese Constitution to allow for gay marriage would be difficult.
Across Japan, opinions about gay rights diverge. Technically, homosexuality is legal, Kazuyuki Minami, a lawyer in Osaka, reminded a journalist from the Associated Press, “but the atmosphere is such that most people feel homosexuals should not exist.” Reuters, citing a mid-2013 poll by the research firm Ipsos, reported that while 60 or 70 percent of people in most Western nations say they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, only 5 percent of Japanese do. Kanae Doi, the Japan director for the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch, told Foreign Policy that while many Japanese are not opposed to homosexuality, “they don’t really see it.”
And while Shinto doesn’t have a clear stance on homosexuality, it “advocates that it’s not natural,” as one Shinto priest told me in Tokyo’s prominent Meiji Shrine in early June, a few weeks before the Supreme Court ruling. The Association of Shinto Shrines, the administrative body that oversees Japan’s estimated 80,000 shrines and 20,000 priests, tend to be conservative on social issues, the priest said. Read the rest of this entry »
AWR Hawkins writes: When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that every state must recognize same sex marriages, they used a basis for judgement that will not easily stop at same sex marriage. In fact, it is a basis for judgement that should offer itself to national reciprocity of concealed carry permits and permit holders.
The SCOTUS legalized same sex marriage by finding a right which Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg , Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, and Elena Kagan ruled as beyond a state-by-state prerogative via the 14th Amendment.
Crucial in this ruling is the fact that same sex marriage–now recognized by the SCOTUS–is not the only right the 14th Amendment shields from state-by-state prerogative and/or recognition.
Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
“As a result of Friday’s ruling, PennLive/The Patriot-News will no longer accept, nor will it print, op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage,” they declared.
After receiving strong pushback, the newspaper’s editorial board, which is overseen by Editorial Page Editor John Micek, quickly revised its policy. Freedom of speech will be allowed — but only for a “limited” period of time. Read the rest of this entry »
The Supreme Court is scheduled to issue decisions Thursday, with six major cases remaining on the docket, and is expected to release opinions again on Friday and perhaps next week. Still to be decided are the health-law subsidies and gay-marriage cases, along with closely watched rulings involving congressional redistricting and power plant emissions. Here’s a list of the remaining cases….(read more)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawrence Hurley reports: Tensions are building inside and outside the white marble facade of the U.S. Supreme Court building as the nine justices prepare to issue major rulings on gay marriage and President Barack Obama’s healthcare law by the end of the month.
Of the 11 cases left to decide, the biggest are a challenge by gay couples to state laws banning same-sex marriage and a conservative challenge to subsidies provided under the Obamacare law to help low- and middle-income people buy health insurance that could lead to millions of people losing medical coverage.
Many legal experts predict the court will legalize gay marriage nationwide by finding that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment under the law and due process prohibit states from banning same-sex nuptials.
The four liberal justices are expected to support same-sex marriage, and conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, the expected swing vote, has a history of backing gay rights.
In three key decisions since 1996, Kennedy has broadened the court’s view of equality for gays. The most recent was a 2013 case in which the court struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples.
During oral arguments in the gay marriage case on April 28, Kennedy posed tough questions to lawyers from both sides but stressed the nobility and dignity of same-sex couples.
The healthcare decision is tougher to call. Chief Justice John Roberts, the swing vote when the court upheld Obamacare in 2012, said little during the March 4 oral argument to indicate how he will vote. Read the rest of this entry »
Kelsey Harkness writes:
…Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.
Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state…(read more)
Trying to put florists, bakers and others out of work for unapproved ideas about marriage
Charlotte Allen writes: On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that asks whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry. Four days before the hearing, in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.
“Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to…nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the ‘anti-gay bakery’; the Huffington Post prefers ‘anti-gay baker.’”
Same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Oregon when the Kleins made their decision. But the couple was found to have violated a 2008 Oregon law forbidding discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.
“The victors have dropped their conciliatory stance. Bubonic plague-level hysteria surged through the media, academia and mega-corporate America in March after Indiana passed a law—modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—that would enable religious believers to opt out of universally applicable laws under some circumstances.”
Media sympathy for the Kleins’ claim that being forced to participate in a same-sex wedding would violate their consciences ranged from nonexistent to . . . nonexistent. A CNN headline dubbed the Kleins’ since-closed business the “anti-gay bakery”; the Huffington Post prefers “anti-gay baker.”
Supporters of the Kleins—who have five children and operated the bakery out of their home—quickly went on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to try to raise money to help the family pay legal fees and the fine, which still requires approval by the state labor commissioner. The effort managed to raise more than $100,000 in a few hours. But then, on Saturday night, GoFundMe abruptly shut down the online appeal because the Kleins’ case involved “formal charges.”
The Kleins join a small number of bakers, florists and photographers around the country, most of whom say they serve and even employ gays in their over-the-counter operations but who also insist that their Christian beliefs in man-woman marriage preclude their providing services to same-sex weddings. Those numbers will probably dwindle further: Many states are treating those acts of conscience as ordinary bigotry and, by levying or threatening fines, forcing those small business owners into costly and potentially ruinous litigation. Read the rest of this entry »
Rock Paper Scissors: Christian Who Asked Gay Rights Bakery to Bake Anti-Gay Marriage Cake May Face Legal ActionPosted: April 13, 2015
Cake Fake Controversy Enters Twilight Zone
Donna Rachel Edmunds reports: A bakery that has refused to bake a cake with an anti-gay wedding message has found itself at the centre of controversy. But unlike mirror image cases in which Christian bakers have been taken to court for refusing to bake pro-gay marriage cakes, this time, it is the Christian to tried to place the order who may face legal action.
The latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between Christians and gay rights campaigners began when pastor Josh Feuerstein called Cut the Cake in Longwood, Florida to request a sheet cake with the slogan “We do not support gay marriage” written on it.
Sharon Haller, owner of Cut the Cake, who took the call, asked Feuerstein whether the request was a prank (it took place on April 1st), before refusing to bake the cake saying “We wouldn’t do that, sorry”. She then hung up without explaining her reasons.
The brief call was recorded by Feuerstein who then turned to the camera to give his views on the debate currently taking place.
“It obviously violates her principles, so she doesn’t feel like she should be forced to make the cake. And yet there is all of this hoopla because Christian bakeries think that they shouldn’t be forced,” he said. “We’re getting to the place in America now where Christians are not allowed any form of freedom of speech.
“Have we gotten to the point in America where the left is so ‘open minded’ that they’re close minded to anybody that doesn’t agree with them, or is America big enough for different points of view? Christian bakeries should never be forced to do something that violates their Christian principles. That’s not American.
“I love gay people. This is nothing against gay people. This is about religious freedom.”
Feuerstein posted the video to YouTube, but according to WND he removed the video when Haller started to receive harassing phone calls and messages on Facebook. However, Haller then posted the video herself to the Cut the Cake Facebook page, commenting “Yes the video has been deleted by Joshua Feuerstein but the damage is done! Our reviews have been marred and our business reviews are no longer the same. We thought this was a prank! Look for yourself.”
Haller told local media that she had received intimidating calls and even death threats from people all over the country who had seen the video. “People (are) telling us that we need to kill ourselves and all kinds of stuff, and we’re just afraid for our business and our safety,” she said. Local police stepped up patrols in her area. Read the rest of this entry »
Liberal clickbait factory Salon.com wants to let you know that Memories Pizza, the pizzeria supportive of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act that was forced to close after constant abuse and death threats, got “exactly what it deserved.”
In a now-deleted tweet, Salon’s Twitter account gloated over the closure of “anti-LGBT” pizza shop:
The link in the body of the tweet goes to a very brief Salon article which reports on Memories Pizza’s closure, but omits any mention of the death threats:
The owners of a small-town pizza shop who showed support for Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act have announced that they will be closing indefinitely, after facing mounting protests outside the physical establishment and online. Memories Pizza owner Kevin O’Connor told Fox News on Wednesday that due to an inability to differentiate between real and fake orders, he and his family would be taking a break. Read the rest of this entry »
Arsonists For Tolerance: Indiana Coach Suspended After Threatening to Burn Down Christian-Owned PizzeriaPosted: April 1, 2015
Hysterical Media Whipping Up the Next Ferguson?
The head coach of an Indiana high school girl’s golf team has been suspended after apparently threatening to burn down a Christian-owned pizzeria.
Have we strangled the last Mormon florist with the entrails of the last evangelical pizza provider yet?
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) April 1, 2015
Jess Dooley, a coach at Concord High School of Elkhart, Indiana allegedly struck out at the owner of Memories Pizza in Walkerton, IN who made news on Tuesday by saying that she would not cater a wedding if a gay couple tried to hire her for the job, after the state passed its own Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We are a Christian establishment,” pizza shop owner told the media.
On the heels of the news from the pizza shop, coach Dooley allegedly took to Twitter to say, “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me? Agree with #FreedomofReligion bill? “That’s a lifestyle they CHOOSE” Ignorant.” Read the rest of this entry »
Deroy Murdock: ‘Are We Prepared to Handcuff a Feminist Photographer Who Won’t Take Pictures at a Strip Club?’Posted: April 1, 2015
• Do we still respect a woman’s right to choose not to bake a cake for a gay couple?
• Do we respect a woman’s right to choose not to take photographs at a Christmas party at a men’s club because she is a feminist who deeply loathes all-male establishments?
• Do we respect the rights of groups of women to choose to enjoy the sisterhood of a women’s club where they need not cope with men?
• Do we respect the Junior League’s right to choose to remain a female-only group, as it has been since 1901, or must they now accept male members?
• Do we respect a lesbian bar owner’s right to choose to post a No Men Allowed sign in her window because her customers want to enjoy their all-female company in peace and don’t want to associate there with a bunch of hairy dudes with Adam’s apples, brawny shoulders, testosterone in their veins, and penises in their pants?
• Do we respect a gay merchant’s decision to tell a heterosexual couple to stop making out inside his club full of gay men who could live without such a spectacle while meeting other gay men?
“Bake this!” — Can a gay baker just say no?
• Do we respect a gay baker’s right to choose not to bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist Church with icing that reads God Hates Fags?
• Do we respect a fundamentalist Muslim baker’s choice not to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah because she really is not crazy about the Star of David?
• Do we respect a black jazz band’s choice not to perform at a Ku Klux Klan chapter’s “Negro Minstrel Show”?
• Do we respect a pro–gun control photographer’s right to choose not to snap pictures at a Sharpshooter of the Year banquet organized by the local chapter of the National Rifle Association? Read the rest of this entry »
“I think the ‘conservatarian’ term is not a linguistic trick, it is a substantive attempt to describe a certain coterie on the right,” explains Charles C. W. Cooke, a writer for National Review and author of The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future“. “These are the people who say when they are around libertarians they feel conservative, and when they are around conservatives they feel libertarian…(read more)
[Check out Charles C. W. Cooke‘s new book: “The Conservatarian Manifesto: Libertarians, Conservatives, and the Fight for the Right’s Future” at Amazon.com]
Charles Krauthammer calls for a counter-boycott of Mozilla
“This is the culture of the left not being satisfied with making an argument, or even prevailing in an argument, but in destroying personally and marginalizing people who oppose them…”
For The Daily Caller, Brendan Bordelon reports: Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called for Americans to affect a “counter-boycott” of Mozilla after the company fired their CEO for donating to an anti-gay marriage campaign, calling the move “totalitarian discourse…”
“…This is totalitarian discourse, and it shows a level of intolerance that is absolutely — it should be unacceptable, and people ought to get what they’re giving out and field a counter-boycott.”
Krauthammer spoke on a Fox News panel with USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers and conservative columnist George Will, discussing Brendan Eich’s dismissal from popular web browser provider Mozilla after activists discovered he donated $1,000 to California’s Prop 8 campaign — which made gay marriage illegal in the state. Many gay activists boycotted Mozilla, leading to Eich’s eventual termination.
Will noted that Eich’s dismissal is “an illustration of a new phenomenon. No one likes sore losers, but now we have sore winners. The gay rights movement is winning — particularly with regard to same-sex marriage — with a speed and breadth that simply takes your breath away . . . Yet unsatisfied with victory, they seem to want to stamp out and punish people for their previous views.” Read the rest of this entry »
For The Federalist Ben Domenech writes: Government, properly understood, is an agent of force. It can cause people to not do things they would otherwise do, and can compel them to do things they otherwise would not do. It does this in small ways and big ways, in nudges and at the end of a gun. At its best, as limited government conservatives and libertarians alike understand, government causes and compels only in those arenas it must, invading the scope of human life as little as possible. At its worst, government becomes, in Saint Augustine’s phrase, a system of “great robberies” where plunder is divided by the law agreed on, and people are subdued by force in accordance to the whims of the powerful elite.
So what are we to make of the divisions that emerged in the course of Arizona’s consideration of its version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the responses it inspired? I think it comes down to a matter of priorities, and to the broad-based willingness to let personal inclinations about what society ought to look like overwhelm a reasonable understanding of the ramifications of giving government the power to shape that society.
As Powerline blog notes, commenting on this same article, it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish supposedly serious news sites from the Onion.
According to the ever-entertaining and self-aggrandizing Huffington Post, Nadine Schweigert married herself and “opened up about self marriage.”
A 36-year-old North Dakota woman who married herself in a commitment ceremony last March has now spoken about her self-marriage choice in an interview with Anderson Cooper.
The marriage took place among friends and family who were encouraged to “blow kisses to the world” after she exchanged rings with her “inner groom”, My Fox Phoenix reports.
In 2013 rather than the 1950s, a technical error on a marriage certificate wouldn’t cause anyone consternation. But let’s say, for some reason or another, the government invalidated my marriage. Would it matter?
Not really. Marriage is primarily a pact between two people and, in the view of many, a sacrament of the church. The state merely recognizes this contract. If, say, a totalitarian government (think the Khmer Rouge or others like them that have meddled in such things) dissolved my marriage, my wife and I would still be married. The state could make our lives miserable, but it couldn’t end our marriage.
Yet that point seems lost these days. The public battles involve two sides who see the government as the means to legitimize their viewpoints. One side says gay marriage is wrong and the other says that it is the same as any other marriage. The two sides will never see eye to eye.
The governmental “benefits” at the heart of many of the gay-marriage battles are mostly rhetorical window-dressing. The state shouldn’t be handing out many privileges or payments and to whatever degree issues involving hospital visitation and inheritances are an issue, their terms and conditions can easily be worked out without a cultural war over the meaning of “marriage.”
Unfortunately, the court’s meddling has ensured that such a battle will keep going.
I’m not unsympathetic to the high court’s 5-4 decision to overturn most of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, designed specifically to deny governmental benefits to gay couples and to allow states to refuse recognition of gay marriages from other states. If the government gives out stuff, it’s reasonable to insist that it give it out in the most fair-minded basis.
The majority’s rhetoric reflects its desire to take a noble stand in this cultural divide. The court’s dissenters were right that the majority opinion was overheated. But at least the decision made some legal sense. “The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.
By contrast, the court’s decision (actually, a non-decision) on California’s Prop. 8 seemed lifted out of “Alice in Wonderland.” In 2008, voters approved this constitutional ban on gay marriage. Jerry Brown as attorney general and now governor opposed it, so he refused to defend it against court challenges. The Supremes refused to rule on the merits of the statute because its defenders didn’t have “standing.” Only the state government apparently had such standing — but that government refused to do its duty.
As National Review’s Hadley Arkes put it, “If the state has a Democratic governor … he may declare now that he will not enforce the constitutional amendment, for he thinks it runs counter to the federal Constitution.” The meaning is even broader and more disturbing than that. Top officials of all parties now have de facto veto power over all voter initiatives. They simply need not defend in court any initiative they don’t like and there is no one else the high court will allow to defend it. That’s an anti-democratic precedent.
There’s no doubt the courts, legislatures, and public opinion are moving in a pro-gay-marriage direction. Timemagazine was right to declare this “one of the fastest civil rights shifts in the nation’s history.” The culture has shifted. That part doesn’t bother me. I have no problem with gay people getting married. But it disturbs me when the battles are fought in the political system rather than in the cultural arena. Both sides are responsible for the over-politicization of this personal and cultural matter, by the way.
The best solution always has been the separation of marriage and state. If my priest decides to marry gay people, then my fellow parishioners would have every right to be upset about that based on their cultural traditions and understanding of Scripture. If your pastor wants to marry gay people, then it’s none of my business. The terms of marriage should be decided by religious and other private organizations, and the state shouldn’t intervene short of a compelling reason (i.e., marriage by force or with children).
Liberals were more open to this “separation” idea back when conservative pro-family types were ascendant. Now, some conservatives are understanding its merits as a more liberal view is ascendant. Conservatives should have listened when they had some bargaining power, but everyone wants to impose their values on others by using government.
Government neutrality — or the closest we can get to it — is the best way to ensure fairness and social peace on this and most other social issues. Marriage is too important of an institution to be dependent on the wiles of the state. Do we really care if the state validates our marriage licenses?