I have seen sev­er­al friends post the arti­cle “How Does Gay Mar­riage Hurt Us? Here’s How.” and found it ter­ri­bly lack­ing. Here are the key points it makes and some of my thoughts on these.

How does our mar­riage hurt you?” they ask. Well, I can think of one sig­nif­i­cant way it will hurt us: It will destroy reli­gious free­dom and free speech rights. The hand­writ­ing is on the wall in Cana­da, which legal­ized same-sex “mar­riage” in 2005, […] since then, as Michael Coren notes in Nation­al Review Online, “there have been between 200 and 300 pro­ceed­ings … against crit­ics and oppo­nents of same-sex mar­riage.” Of course he means legal proceedings.

For instance, in Saskatchewan, a homo­sex­u­al man called a state mar­riage com­mis­sion­er, want­i­ng to “mar­ry” his part­ner. The com­mis­sion­er, an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian, declined to con­duct the cer­e­mo­ny for reli­gious rea­sons. He sim­ply referred the man to anoth­er commissioner.

But that was not enough for the gay cou­ple. Even though they got their cer­e­mo­ny, they want­ed to pun­ish the Chris­t­ian who had declined to con­duct it. The case end­ed up in the courts. And the result? Those with reli­gious objec­tions to con­duct­ing such cer­e­monies now face the loss of their jobs.

So of these 200 to 300 pro­ceed­ings that the author iden­ti­fied, the case the author decides to high­light was that of an indi­vid­ual who was employed by the gov­ern­ment, and whose job it was to mar­ry peo­ple who request­ed to be mar­ried. Per this arti­cle, the cou­ple were mar­ried the same day by a dif­fer­ent commissioner.

There was a tri­bunal held to review the case, and the out­come was that the state mar­riage com­mis­sion­er did­n’t do his job as a pub­lic ser­vant, “The Com­mis­sion stands by its posi­tion that to allow pub­lic offi­cials to insert their per­son­al moral­i­ty when deter­min­ing who should and who should not receive the ben­e­fit of law under­mines human rights in Saskatchewan beyond the issue of same-sex mar­riages.” In oth­er words, we can’t allow pub­lic ser­vants to enforce the law as they see fit — it needs to be enforced con­sis­tent­ly. I fail to under­stand how this case sup­ports the con­clu­sion that gay mar­riage “will destroy reli­gious free­dom and free speech rights.”

Cana­di­an church­es are also under attack. Coren writes that when Fred Hen­ry, the Roman Catholic bish­op of Cal­gary, Alber­ta, sent a let­ter to church­es explain­ing tra­di­tion­al Catholic teach­ing on mar­riage, he was “charged with a human-rights vio­la­tion” and “threat­ened with litigation.”

Church­es with the­o­log­i­cal objec­tions to per­form­ing same-sex “wed­ding” cer­e­monies are being threat­ened with the loss of their tax-free sta­tus. In British Colum­bia, the Knights of Colum­bus agreed to rent its build­ing for a wed­ding recep­tion before find­ing out that the cou­ple was les­bian. When they did find out, they apol­o­gized to the women and agreed to both find an alter­na­tive venue and pay the costs for print­ing new invi­ta­tions. But that wasn’t good enough. The women pros­e­cut­ed, and the Human Rights Com­mis­sion ordered the Knights of Colum­bus to pay a fine.

Again, let’s look at the out­come of this case. From wikipedia we find out that the con­clu­sion was­n’t any destruc­tion of reli­gious free­dom: “The tri­bunal found that the local coun­cil did not have to rent the hall if in so doing they would vio­late their reli­gious beliefs.” The fine from the Human Rights Com­mis­sion was because they found the Knights “could have direct­ed the com­plainants to oth­er halls and assist­ed them in find­ing anoth­er place to hold their event.” Essen­tial­ly, the fine was because they did­n’t treat the cou­ple humane­ly. No reli­gious free­dom was reduced, only the expec­ta­tion to be half-way respect­ful to each oth­er was reenforced.

If you think this couldn’t hap­pen here, think again. This year [2012] we’ve seen Oba­maCare attack the auton­o­my of Catholic church­es by attempt­ing to force them, in vio­la­tion of Catholic teach­ing, to pay for con­tra­cep­tives and abor­ti­fa­cients for church employ­ees. And just last week, a les­bian employ­ee of a Catholic hos­pi­tal in New York sued the hos­pi­tal for deny­ing her part­ner spousal health benefits.

Both of these cas­es, PPACA “forc­ing” Catholics to buy con­tra­cep­tives and the New York case, Roe v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, the courts found in favor of the reli­gious enti­ty. Catholic church­es now have an accom­mo­da­tion regard­ing birth con­trol and self-insured health plans such as the New York hos­pi­tal are not required to offer cov­er­age to same-sex spous­es. As should have been expect­ed, reli­gious free­doms have been strength­ened by these law­suits. There will always be some­one will­ing to sue, and any­one can sue any­one fair­ly cheap­ly, but it is the out­come that mat­ters, espe­cial­ly when you are claim­ing seri­ous harm as is this author.

The author’s conclusion:

This is what we need to tell our neigh­bors when they ask us, “How does gay ‘mar­riage’ hurt us?” It means that those hos­tile to our beliefs will attempt to bend us to their will to force us to not only accept gay “mar­riage,” but to con­done it as well.

It is pret­ty sil­ly to think that those that sup­port mar­riage equal­i­ty would­n’t pre­fer that peo­ple con­done it. “Con­done” means “accept and allow (behav­ior that is con­sid­ered moral­ly wrong or offen­sive) to con­tin­ue.” That isn’t a very high bar — essen­tial­ly it is some degree of tolerance.

This arti­cle is essen­tial­ly fear mon­ger­ing — church lead­ers have said bad things are going to hap­pen, so we believe it when peo­ple claim as much. Instead, we should take into account what has hap­pened in oth­er coun­tries as a result of mar­riage equal­i­ty becom­ing law. Check out the fun­ny and more accu­rate sum­ma­ry of the impacts in these oth­er coun­tries from Buz­zfeed: Dis­as­ters You Can Expect Now That Mar­riage Equal­i­ty Is Here. I hope that we can all move toward more tol­er­ance of one anoth­er. Con­trary to the opin­ion of some, there are much more impor­tant issues than this that we should be focus­ing on.

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Robert M Hodge
December 22, 2015 10:50 am

This is nuts noth­ing more noth­ing less. The author fails to note the gov­ern­ment author­i­ties are sworn to uphold the law and per­form there­in. The solu­tion for the com­mis­sion­er was to resign if his reli­gious con­science would not let him per­form. We all pay prices for our con­vic­tions, but it seems that these reli­gious nut­cas­es are unwill­ing to sac­ri­fice lucre for conscience.