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Court Rulings Cannot Change Religious Convictions

May 11, 2015

There is no denying that the gay movement has come a long way in recent years.  It accomplished that mostly by assuming the role of an oppressed minority group and emulating the black civil-rights movement.  It was an effective approach, appealing directly to America’s conscience.  After all, who can argue when gay activists assert that there is no room for bigotry or discrimination in this country?  But how do the histories of blacks and gays compare?    

For the first 100 years of America’s existence, black people suffered real indignation.  They were not allowed to vote, and were relegated to either slavery or second-class citizenship.  Things were better during the next century, but they still faced pervasive discrimination and bias.  In many parts of the country, they were denied service in public establishments, and were forced to use separate drinking fountains and separate bathrooms.  The 1960s civil-rights movement was essential to America’s evolution.  It was needed to right a fundamental wrong.  

The greatest challenge homosexuals faced during that time was concealing their sexual orientation.  That wasn’t difficult.  Back then, sexual matters simply weren’t discussed, and consequently homosexuals had essentially the same opportunities everyone else had - everyone, that is, except black Americans.  Gays were integrated throughout every part of our society.  They were bankers, teachers, judges and politicians.  Some were enormously successful as entrepreneurs, entertainers, or sports figures.  Early in our history, some of them were even slave-owners. 

But during the same period that black Americans were enduring widespread discrimination, society did consider homosexual activity as aberrant and immoral.  So many today, especially young people, link the two, accepting the notion that discrimination based on skin color is somehow equivalent to moral judgments on sexual activity.  Equating the two only marginalizes the real hardships black people endured.          

Nonetheless, hijacking the civil rights movement was an effective strategy leading to profound changes.  In 1998, Bill Clinton awarded the gay community one of its first true prizes.  Through Executive Order, he added sexual orientation to the list of classes protected against discrimination in the federal workforce.  By designating gays as a special, protected class, further advances were inevitable. 

In recent years, gay activists have taken the final step toward the conclusion of their long journey.  Again citing discrimination, they are demanding the right to marry.  In fact, while interracial marriage was once prohibited throughout most of America, gays have never been denied the right to marry.  Many of them did.  They married to raise families, for companionship, for financial, or for other reasons. 

Of course, that’s not what they want now. 

Same-sex marriage is now being imposed throughout the country, mostly through the rulings of activist judges, and often with utter disregard for public opinion.  While some see it as a simple re-adjustment in the definition of “marriage,” many opponents call it a mockery, a grotesque parody of an age-old institution.  Though same-sex marriage provides gays with no additional benefits over the less-controversial civil unions, gay activists see it as the final coup, government endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle, equating gay and traditional families.

Supporters argue that traditional marriage would not be harmed by its radical new counterpart.  But only those who trivialize time-honored institutions would take that position.  The very act of tampering with such a venerable tradition diminishes it.  And when its definition becomes so distorted as to invert or contradict the very purpose for which it was established, it becomes meaningless.        

Throughout recorded history, mankind, relying on common sense and an understanding of basic biology, has celebrated the union of man and woman.  Now, nine people will opine on that standard.  They will decide if mankind has been unfair - discriminatory - for the past millennia.  Considering that two members of the Court have already presided over same-sex marriages, everyone has a pretty good idea how Justices Ginsburg and Kagan will vote.    

We have already seen what can happen when a government establishes new rights for special interest groups without considering the fundamental rights of others - rights like freedom of speech, religion, and freedom of association.    

The recent case involving a family-owned pizzeria in Indiana was just one example.  The owners never discriminated against gays in the restaurant, but when they answered a hypothetical question, confessing that their religious convictions would prevent them from catering a gay wedding reception, the resulting boycotts and threats of violence drove them out of business.  It raises a simple question: Should citizens of this country be compelled to help celebrate something that contradicts their core values?      

Incidents like the one in Indiana will become commonplace as the laws of man diverge from the teachings of virtually every organized religion in the country.  People of conscience are struggling to balance the clear moral guidelines and the compassion their faith dictates.  Meanwhile, gay activists, supported by the political left, will stop at seemingly nothing to achieve their goal.  They can only accomplish that by eliminating religious opposition.  As Hillary Clinton recently argued, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”  The left and the gays have a tough row to hoe.  Tens of millions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims reject same-sex marriage, and as long as one person opposes it on religious grounds, that conviction is, and must always be, protected by our First Amendment.

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.