Alan's monthly letter for August 2008
The legalization of same-sex marriage will usher in a new era where religious liberties will increasingly become restricted. There’s one word that explains why this will happen: Consistency.
In order for California to be consistent with its new legislation on same-sex marriage, it must restrict the religious liberties of Christians, Jews, and any other group that upholds a one-man-one-woman view of marriage. These groups enjoy privileges and protections given by the state, which now also endorses same-sex marriage. Since the law supports both same-sex marriage and groups who oppose the new legislation, it’s only a matter of time before pro-gay lawyers exploit the inconsistency.
Soon, some churches may lose their tax exemption status. If they refuse to perform same-sex weddings, it can be argued that the state subsidizes discrimination.
Pastors and licensed ministers face a similar fate. Many of them not only hold strong beliefs against same-sex marriage, but some (including myself) speak publicly against it. How can the state support the new legislation if it grants financial benefits to clergy who publicly oppose it?
Legal experts recognize this concern. Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress asks, “Can a group – a church or religious charity – that opposes gay marriage keep its tax exemption if gay marriage becomes law?” It’s doubtful.
There are other areas of conflict. The state issues professional licenses to psychologists, marriage and family counselors, and social workers who believe same-sex marriage is a psychological disorder, not an identity to embrace. Legal pressure will mandate that the state withhold or withdraw licenses to practitioners who oppose serving same-sex couples.
In order for the education system to be consistent with same-sex legislation, public schools will be required to teach that same-sex marriage and families are normal and healthy. The curriculums will be changed to reflect the new law and teachers will be forced to teach in accordance with it.
This is all theory, right? Wrong. Anti-discrimination laws, which now protect people based on sexual orientation, are already on the books throughout the country. We’re already seeing lawsuits against religious groups and individuals. And this is without established same-sex marriage laws.
The New Mexico Civil Rights Commission found a Christian photographer guilty of sexual orientation discrimination for declining to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. The photographer has been fined $6,637.94.
The state of New Jersey revoked the tax exemption status of a Methodist church for refusing to allow two lesbians to perform a civil union ceremony on its grounds (the site has hosted church and worship services for 139 years). The state agreed with lawyers who said the church is guilty of discrimination and “could no more refuse to accommodate the lesbians than a restaurant owner could refuse to serve a black man.”
Two obstetricians in North County, San Diego declined to artificially inseminate an unmarried woman for religious reasons. Lambda Legal, a gay-only issues version of the ACLU, sued the two Christian doctors for religiously motivated discrimination because the woman was a lesbian. The case has been dragged through the California legal system for the last five years.
In Canada, where same-sex laws have been around, the assault on religious liberty is even greater. Because he wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper opposing same-sex legislation, Pastor Stephen Boission was fined $5,000 and told to “cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.” In other words, he is silenced from his free speech rights, forever. He can’t even publish his own opinions on homosexuality on his website – they’ll be removed.
If same-sex marriage is not legal in your state, it soon will be. Since California and Massachusetts marry same-sex couples, it only makes sense that every state in the nation must eventually recognize a legal marriage from another state. Although states may not recognize same-sex marriages initially, the eventual legal pressure will overturn existing laws.
Religious liberties will increasingly become restricted in all states. Anthony Picarello, president of a top law firm that defends religious groups, said, “The impact [of gay marriage] will be severe and pervasive. This is going to affect every aspect of church-state relations ... the church is surrounded on all sides by the state. The boundaries are usually peaceful…But because marriage affects just about every area of the law, gay marriage is going to create a point of conflict at every point around the perimeter.”
Every public institution will have to be changed to be consistent with this new legislation. In one clear voice, they will be sending our youth, our culture – everyone – a message that homosexual behavior and same-sex marriages and families, are just as equal, healthy, and moral as you.
While I advocate opposing same-sex marriage legislation for the health and future of our country, we should also vigorously love and reach out to homosexual individuals. There is nothing contradictory about this position. With your support I’ve been able to do both. And in the future our partnership will continue to allow us to make an impact for the cause of Christ among our individual relationships and in our culture.
For the Cause of Christ,