Finally, An Honest Debate About Gay Marriage

Editorial

 
By Gregory J. Welborn

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments concerning same sex marriage. Proponents of gay marriage would have us believe that the only argument is essentially a civil rights issue and that the only logical and morally defensible decision is for The Court to strike down any and all state laws which would ban same sex marriages. But in arguments before the court, even those in favor of gay marriage have had to admit that essential freedoms are at stake and would be jeopardized should the court rule in favor of gay marriage.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli

There was but a brief moment in these arguments when the risk to religious freedom was made clear. In an exchange between Justice Alito and one of gay marriage’s proponents, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Justice Alito asked Mr. Verrilli if the Supreme Court finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage would then jeopardize religious colleges from retaining their tax-exempt status if they continued to hold to their religious beliefs which recognize only traditional marriages.

Solicitor General Verrilli was at least honest enough to admit what many of us have been claiming all along would be the inevitable outcome of such a ruling. He told Justice Alito that yes, “I don’t deny that it is going to be an issue.” What was left unaddressed is how extensive this “issue” will become. It won’t stop just at the doorstep of religious colleges. It will inevitably extend straight through to every religious institution, from charities up into the churches and synagogues themselves. Maintaining an adherence to the traditional definition of marriage will be viewed as a civil rights violation, and no institution will be allowed an exemption.

How could they? And I don’t write that in jest. Civil rights are by their very definition something which no person or institution has the right to deny to another person. Churches aren’t allowed to deny services to blacks or any other racial minority.

A civil right – properly understood – is something which is God given. These are the truths which our founders rightly held to be self-evident; that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, we’ve had 200+ years of arguments and court precedents to determine exactly what those rights are and where their exercise stops. As a previous Supreme Court Justice once wrote, the freedom to swing my arm stops at your face.

Establishing what is a civil right is an extremely important task, one with extreme repercussions that will reverberate into every nook and cranny of our country. As long and hard as our founders worked to protect our rights from the encroachment of our fellow citizens and from our own government, they didn’t get it perfect on day one. In fact, almost immediately upon passing of the Constitution, the first set of amendments were passed – the very first one of which guarantees freedom of religion, speech and the press.

A Supreme Court ruling which finds that gay marriage is one of these civil rights means that anyone holding to the traditional view of marriage can be found to be violating a gay couples’ civil rights. Just as with other civil rights violations, the penalties will not be confined to nasty fines; ultimately continued or grievous violations of civil rights result in serious jail time.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Some readers may be tempted to write this off as exaggeration. To them, I need point no further than the Democratic Party’s leading presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton recently addressed a women’s conference where she told the audience that the Supreme Court must decide in favor gay marriage because “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Here is the person whom many believe will inevitably be the next President of The United States telling the world that the force of law must be used to change these bigoted yokels who still cling to their ancient (2000+ years), irrelevant, religious biases.

Also in our near-term contemporary history, we have the example of the IRS being used to hound organizations whose beliefs ran counter to those in power at 1600 Pennsylvania. They were quite effective in stifling political debate by simply delaying action on legitimate requests for tax free status from conservative organizations. Consider the damage they will be able to do when they don’t have to sneak around and hide their actions, when hounding organizations whose religious beliefs are no longer fashionable won’t just be tolerated, but will actually be official policy established by no less than a Supreme Court ruling.

We are treading on dangerous ground, are on the brink of potentially upending everything we all – conservative, independent and liberal – thought we understood about freedom, and will witness the beginning of the end of the greatest experiment in individual liberty the world has ever known if The Supreme Court decides that gay marriage is a civil right.

Let us pray that the truth, finally admitted by no less than the U.S. Solicitor General, will ring loudly in the ears of at least 5 justices. We could hope for more, so that the principles of freedom receive resounding support and endorsement, but we will settle, and breathe a sigh of relief, for just 5 wise and discerning justices.

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Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community. He can be reached [email protected]/5l.com

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