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Ethics & Religion
April 28, 2016
Column #1,809
Religious Liberty More Important Than LGBT Demands
By Mike McManus

 

Even four out of five atheists and agnostics believe a Christian wedding photographer "with deeply held beliefs opposing same-sex marriage," has the right to say "No" to a same-sex couple asking him or her to photographically record their wedding.

Some 83% of the general public takes such a stand, but 80% of atheists and agnostics agree, according to a poll by Caddell Associates. "There is hope for live and let live, after all," Caddell concluded.

As virtually all Americans know, the First Amendment to the Constitution begins: "Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

That freedom of religion is sacred in America.

However, LGBT activists persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the laws of 32 states which defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and declare same-sex marriage legal in all states in last year's Obergefell decision.

I charged that it was a "corrupt" decision because "Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan had performed same-sex weddings," and should have "recused themselves" since their actions "demonstrated they were not impartial judges."

Had they done so, the vote would have been 4-3 to uphold state rights to define marriage, instead of 5-4 to impose gay marriage.

Justice Antonin Scalia called the decision a "threat to American democracy." He asserted, "This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine...robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence...the freedom to govern themselves."

By votes of more than 50 million to 30 million, 32 states passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

As Justice Samuel Alito dissented: "Today's decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional definition of marriage. It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy."

Less than a week later, Melissa Klein, who owned Sweet Cakes by Melissa, was fined $135,000 in Oregon for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. That's just the beginning unless government takes a step to protect religious liberty.

During oral arguments Justice Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli whether universities that believe in traditional marriage might have their federal tax exemption challenged by advocates of same-sex marriage. Verrilli honestly replied, "It's certainly going to be an issue. I don't deny that."

What can be done? I have three suggestions.

  • First, Congress should pass the "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) proposed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) to prohibit the Federal Government from removing the federal tax exemption of universities or other groups who believe in traditional marriage. Similarly, federal grants could not be denied to such institutions if FADA became law.

    The bill now has 166 House co-sponsors, all but one of whom are Republican and 37 Republican Senate co-sponsors. Yet there has not been a vote of a committee on the bill in two years. Why not? Why isn't FADA sailing through the Republican-dominated Congress? Of course, Obama would probably veto it. But its passage to protect religious liberty would give the public another reason to oppose Clinton.

    The New York Times editorialized against the bill for its "anti-gay bigotry." For example, it said "a religiously affiliated college that receives federal grants could fire a professor simply for being gay and still receive those grants." The Times called FADA a "right-wing reaction to the long overdue expansion of basic civil and constitutional rights to gays and lesbians."

    Tony Perkins President of the Family Research Council, supports the First Amendment Defense Act because "men and women of faith have somehow become the acceptable targets of discrimination." To see many cases, go to the website, FreeToBelieve.com.

    Sen. Lee said he proposed FADA because he is "concerned about what the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that after Obergefell, faith-based institutions could lose their nonprofit status because of their non-heterodox beliefs about marriage. Without new protections provided by FADA, hospitals could lose Medicaid funding, and K-12 institutions could have their non-profit status revoked."

    He noted the bill does not attempt to overturn Obergefell, "and in fact explicitly prevents a denial of federal benefits authorized under the Court's new marriage definition."

  • However, there is also a need for a Constitutional Amendment protecting state's rights to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
     

  • At the minimum, we need to elect a Republican President who would appoint conservative justices who would vote to overturn Obergefell.

Freedom of religion must be protected.

________________________________________________

Copyright (c) 2016 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For past columns go to www.ethicsandreligion.com. Hit Search for any topic.
 

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