Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments on same sex marriage involving two separate issues—the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and Proposition 8 which bans the legalization of gay marriage in California.
No matter how you look at it, issues at the heart of these cases involve religion. Many objections to same sex marriage are founded in religious beliefs.
Even supporters of same sex marriage are noting some of the difficulties future courts will have reconciling the First Amendment right to freedom of religion with a change in the definition of marriage to include same sex unions. While it is clear those religious institutions that have religious objections to same sex unions will not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, things become much murkier beyond that.
For example, what sort of legal accommodations would universities supported by religious organizations be required to provide for same sex couples attending their schools? What about religious organizations who place children for adoption? Whose legal “right” will trump the other?
Implementation of ObamaCare demonstrates just how difficult this balancing act could become. For example, Catholic hospitals and universities fought against the requirement that they provide contraception to their employees since it violated their religious beliefs. After some tortured wrangling by the Obama administration, an accommodation was reached, but it proved nothing more than a twisted attempt at preventing the Catholic Church from directly violating its own tenets. Certainly, God isn’t fooled by the pretense.
Each year, it seems that the right most infringed upon and most likely to be extinguished is freedom of religion. It’s not only fading, in some instances, it’s actually under attack.
Today’s society appears perfectly fine with ridiculing and expressing vitriol against religious groups and people. While we are aghast at any possible affront towards a variety of different groups who might be perceived as different (as well we should be), any religious group appears fair game for mocking, ridicule, and attack.
Religious persecution is nothing new. It’s been around forever and will continue. Some moments in history are worse than others, and sadly, it appears that now is that time.
If we want to preserve religious liberty, we will need to be willing to fight together for each of us to keep that right. That means that all religious groups need to stand up for each other even when they might disagree with one another.
For example, in Europe some leaders are suggesting that the next step after legalization of same sex marriage is the legalization of polygamy. A case involving the Sister Wives stars is currently underway in Utah with George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley representing polygamist Kody Brown and his four “wives” in an attempt to decriminalize bigamy and polygamy in that state. Among the arguments they are making is a First Amendment freedom of religion argument. While I don’t believe in or support polygamy, I do believe that if I want my right to free religious expression upheld, I must support their rights as well.
Currently, the news is focused on clear attempts by the government to water down Second Amendment rights, and many citizens are fighting against those efforts.
Let’s strive equally to preserve First Amendment rights to religious freedom as well. If we don’t work hard to keep that right, it may prove the first of the unique American rights to be extinguished.