Posted by Charity on June 22nd, 2006

I was just reading an article in this week’s Seven Days about the gay marriage movement.

In Vermont, “We’ve taken a breather from the civil-union debate and are now ready to open the conversation again,” says Beth Robinson, chair of the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force.

Now, this is an issue that I rarely talk about and if memory serves have never blogged about. I just don’t care that much about it.

I am of the school of thought that the best way to get people to live by God’s Word is for them to first begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a relationship fundamentally changes people’s hearts and changes in their lives inevitably follow. It is not through legislation or through condemnation that people will change. In fact, I think that only serves to push people away from Christ.

Besides my religious view, I’m also just not interested in dictating to people how they should live.

Unfortunately, the fallout of gay marriage in Massachusetts, whereby a religious organization was being forced by law to betray its beliefs, has caused me to have a slight change of heart on this matter.

There is no right more important in my eyes than freedom of religion. There is nothing else that matters to me more on this earth than my right to worship my God in the manner that I so choose, in all aspects of my life, and all manifestations thereof. Call me a religious kook, but when the government starts to infringe on that right, I have a problem.

Let me backtrack a little because you might have missed this story.

Massachusetts has a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, as do most states. In the past, religious adoption agencies could still deny adoptions to gay couples by restricting adoption to married couples.

Enter gay marriage. Now all adoption agencies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must allow gay married couples to adopt, even if it goes against their religious convictions.

As a result, the Catholic Charities of Boston has closed the door on its adoption agency – an agency which is well known for finding homes for the most difficult to place children, including older children, sibling groups, and children with disabilities.

Both sides, left and right, have used this issue to accuse the other side of putting their agenda ahead of the needs of these children, although I hardly call staying true to a nearly 2000 year old religious tradition “an agenda.”

The fact is, this is not a case of gay couples being denied an opportunity to adopt. There is no shortage of adoption agencies in the state of Massachusetts willing and even eager to adopt to gay couples. This is about making the Catholic Church change its stance on homosexuality. By extension, it is an attempt to use the law to “prohibit the free exercise” of religion. Last time I checked, the First Amendment is supposed to protect us from this state intrusion.

I could ignore this because I am not Catholic. I could ignore this because I do not necessarily oppose gay marriage and certainly do not support the Marriage Amendment. But I won’t ignore it when the government starts dictating the beliefs of a religious group. I cannot ignore the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment being thrown out the window.

The worst part of this whole situation is how the marriage movement is losing an ally by pushing too hard. I was once on their side in the name of freedom. I am now moving away from them in the name of freedom.

This is no longer about the freedom to marry. It has become (to some) about manipulating the law to oppress any and all opposition even at the expense of the First Amendment. And that is not an issue I can remain silent on.

(The post title is a quote from this article.)

6 Responses to “"The painful clash between gay rights and religious freedom"”

  1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster would be disappointed at your lack of consideration of Him:

  2. Believe it or not, I am quite familiar with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I used to debate creation and evolution on-line before I got into doing this blog.

    There was no lack of consideration of anything on my part. Being raised with no religious guidance, I have considered many, many spiritual beliefs.

    Anyway, this is not about my religious beliefs. This is about freedom. If the United States of America is not a safe place to practice your religion open and freely, then we are in a lot of trouble.

  3. I’ll have pictures of the reincarnation of the flying spaghetti monster soon. We were planting asparagus, when we discovered that the FSM has been living among us for eons. ;-)

    Gay marriage debate really needs to be about what role the government should in marriage in the first place.

    Marriage is a very personal commitment between people. We need to get the government out of personal affairs.

    The problem that gay marriage advocates have is that the law treats same sex couples who want to commit to spending their lives together differently than opposite sex couples. They are right, the law shouldn’t discriminate. But, what both sides need to do is compromise toward greater liberty instead of fight.

    The greater liberty compromise is to get government out of the marriage business all together. Let couples create their own marriage contracts. There could be Catholic, Jewish, Jehovah, FSM, UU, and generic marriage contracts that couples could download, print out, sign, and have notarized as to all aspects of their marriage. This would mean the people entering the contract would exactly what they are getting into….now marriage law is different in all 50 states…in Vermont there is over 60 pages worth of statutes related to married couple, which the legislature could change on any whim.

    My wife and I choose to create our own marriage contract. We kept the government and organized religion out of it. This means that we can’t take part in any marriage tax break the IRS gives out, but we think the positives of having a more personalized and specific contract far out weigh the small carrots that politicians try to attach to marriage law.

    There is one role for government in marriage contracts, which is a divorce. Divorce is a contract termination where the parties disagree about the termination clause of the marriage contract. Since the contract would spell out the termination clause, which would include what happens to the children if the contract is ended, there would be fewer people in family court.

  4. Damn the Government. Freedom before order.

  5. “Damn the Government. Freedom before order.”

    I’ll go one further. Damn the government. Freedom before security, even.

  6. I agree with Hardy. The government should not be involved in marriage at all.

    I don’t know why people think that freedom and order are mutually exclusive. I am all for order, including, but not limited to a strong military, strict immigration policy and tough penalties for criminals. I just think that the government needs to butt out of personal affairs. Saying that the government should not be able to control what a religion believes is not the same as saying I want no government at all.

    For crying out loud, does anyone even read the Constitution anymore?? Most people seem to think that the First Amendment says only says that we have freedom of speech (as long as it is PC approved by the liberal intelligentsia), the corporate controlled newspapers have to say what you want them to, and every public appearance by a government official has to be accompanied by a protest.

    I have some news. It is supposed to protect us from government imposed religion and from the government prohibiting certain religious beliefs.

    There is much about the Catholic Church that I disagree with, but they have the right to believe what they want. Once the government starts down this path, nothing good will come of it. The worst part is that the legislature in Massachusetts called it a political stunt when Gov. Romney wanted to introduce a bill that would allow for religious exemption.

    Yes, in the year 2006, upholding the Constitution is considered a political stunt.

    Hear that rumbling? That’s the sound of the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves. This country is screwed.