Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Redefining our way toward Gomorrah

Maggie Gallagher, writing in NRO, explains the real implications behind the trend of judicially imposed gay marriage:

When I first raised the question of what same-sex marriage will mean for traditional faith groups in The Weekly Standard cover story “Banned in Boston: The New Threats to Religious Liberties” in 2006, many people were shocked and astonished. Surely this was just hysteria?

For no dogma has been more thoroughly promoted by same-sex marriage advocates than the idea that gay marriage is harmless; there’s no real reason to oppose it, even if you don’t exactly agree, because it will only affect Adam and Steve — so why should you care?

That was a good line for a few years, but with the California court victory, it is being replaced in gay newspapers with more open acknowledgements of what Adam and Steve’s right to gay marriage will really mean for the rest of us.

For example, a May 30 Washington Blade story asked, “what about religious adoption agencies or daycare centers? Will they be forced to accommodate gays?”

“Experts say organizations that receive state and federal funding will not be allowed to oppose working with gays for religious reasons,” the Blade forthrightly reports, “Some, most notably Catholic Charities of Boston (gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts), have opted to get out of the adoption business rather than be forced to allow gays to adopt.”

What about the next step: “Could churches in time risk their tax-exempt status by refusing to marry gays?”

Here’s the official answer from a leading gay paper, “That remains to be seen and will likely result in a steady stream of court battles.” Are those the same courts that decided same-sex marriage is a constitutional right?

This week National Public Radio similarly highlighted the coming religious-liberty conflicts, opening with a remarkably frank and open admission of how serious the implications are: “As gay couples in California head to the courthouse starting Monday to get legally married, there are signs of a coming storm” — as NPR put it in their written version — “Two titanic legal principles are crashing on the steps of the church, synagogue and mosque: equal treatment for same-sex couples on the one hand, and the freedom to exercise religious beliefs on the other.”

“The collision that will play out over the next few years will be filled with pathos on both sides,” NPR says. But the story also acknowledges: “So far, the religious groups are losing.”

Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to after four-plus years of active participation in the same-sex-marriage debate: Gay marriage is not primarily about marriage. It’s also not about Adam and Steve and their personal practical legal needs. It is about inserting into the law the principle that “gay is the new black” — that sexual orientation should be treated exactly the same way we treat race in law and culture.

Gay-marriage advocates say it all the time: People who think marriage is the union of husband and wife are like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. Believe them. They say it because they mean it.

The architects of this strategy have targeted marriage because it stands in the way of the America they want to create: They hope to use the law to reshape the culture in exactly the same way that the law was used to reshape the culture of the old racist south.

Gay-marriage advocates are willing to use a variety of arguments to allay fears and reduce opposition to getting this new “equality” principle inserted in the law; these voices may even believe what they are saying. But once the principle is in the law, the next step will be to use the law to stigmatize, marginalize, and repress those who disagree with the government’s new views on marriage and sexual orientation.

Many of the harshest legal conflicts could be alleviated with religious-exemption legislation. But gay-marriage advocates will fight those religious exemptions tooth and nail (as they did in Massachusetts when the Catholic Church asked for one for Catholic Charities) because, they will say, it’s the principle of the thing: We wouldn’t give a religious-liberty exemption to a racist, so why should someone who opposes gay marriage get one?

Conservative gay-marriage advocates like Andrew Sullivan may well tut tut that they don’t really agree with, say, kicking Catholic Charities out of the adoption business. If it were left it up to guys like them, they probably would not do it. But it won’t be left up to them (and they can hardly be expected to fall on their swords to prevent it either.)

Ideas have consequences. This is what “marriage equality” means.

This November, voters in California will have a chance in the privacy of the voting booth to either affirm or repudiate California’s supreme court decision.

What is at stake in the California marriage debate now taking place? The meaning of marriage, the idea of judicial restraint, and the official harassment and repression (by our own government) of traditional religious faiths.

Failure in California not an option. Conservatives and other people of good will need to recognize the battle we are in. We didn’t choose it, but for better or worse it is here.

I am not aware of any instance in history in which a society has progressed as far down the slippery slope of social degeneration as America has and then been able to turn itself around and restore its culture.

I'm not saying that it hasn't happened, but if it has I'm not aware of it.