They assured us they were fighting to gain something for themselves, not to infringe the rights of anyone else. They assured us — promised! — that the rights of other people would remain unaffected.
Well … they lied.
“Don’t like same-sex marriage? Then don’t have one.” That was the slogan. It was catchy, and pithy. With others like it, the slogan took root in the public thinking and conversation. Such slogans went a long way to re-shaping public opinion in its favor.
But some objected, raising very specific concerns about freedom of religion, and of conscience. “Easily solved,” was the reply, “those freedoms will be preserved.” And, like suckers, we believed them, or worse, didn’t care.
Shortly after “same-sex marriage” (SSM) became law in Canada, there was a court case. Two women had booked a Knights of Columbus hall, but only later did KofC (a Roman Catholic Organization) learn that it was not for a “traditional” wedding reception. The KofC objected to their using the facilities for that purpose, on grounds of faith and conscience. Courts had them pay damages.
In England, legislation is pending. Their Equalities Minister (a wonderfully Orwellian title) said, “Registrars must agree to solemnize same-sex marriage, regardless of whether they hold a religious or moral objection.” (Link)
Clergy and religious orders are exempted on the basis of their religious affiliation. But the clause that protects clergy’s right to conscience specifically and intentionally does not extend to public servants.
She explains, “We need to ensure that we strike the right balance between an individual’s right to express their religious beliefs at work and the rights of people not to be discriminated against because of sexual orientation, and we think that the Bill properly draws that balance.”
So the argument is that because they are public servants, they should be compelled to solemnize a vow between two people whether or not the officiant believes that doing so is a violation of conscience.
It is astonishing how readily people accept this argument. If you work for the State, you have to do things whether they violate your conscience or not. Some would call this a “neutral” position, unaffected by any religious consideration.
Neutral? Think again. There is an illusion of neutrality toward all religious systems, preferring no single tradition above any other. But, in reality, you are elevating an irreligious system above all religious systems. The unspoken result: people are expected to show greater loyalty to the State than they do to whichever God, or moral code, they might personally hold. How is this neutrality?
They want government to supercede our conscience. Can governments tell us what is morally right (as distinguished from “legally” right), even when our conscience tells us differently? That’s a very dangerous precedent. But because this issue is volatile and politically-correct, many have become cowed.
We don’t want to be labeled. We don’t want to face Human Rights tribunals, or lawsuits. Or, perhaps you have been convinced that this particular government coercion is “harmless” because you believe the ”homosexual rights” movement is valid and praiseworthy. Perhaps “in this one instance” the government should overrule conscience.
Don’t fall for it. The Government cannot legislate conscience. You don’t believe they have that right — none of us does. I can prove it.
Imagine a soldier claiming he “only followed orders” in a war crimes trial. Reject his excuse, and you have acknowledged that people have a greater obligation to conscience than to government. The moment you admit that is true, you can make no exceptions. Implication: at no point can any government ever demand the violation of personal conscience.
The courts are often used to bully citizens and corporations, or to reshape culture using precedent and judicial fiat. The Church of England is predicting that British Christians will be targets of such lawsuits based on their refusal to perform SSM.
Canada is well down this road. When our Supreme Court recently ruled that William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech for opposing homosexuality, a National Post article opined “… the Court effectively has privileged the protection of gay Canadians over the right of religious Christians to promote what they view as the established, Biblical take on homosexuality.”
What was his hate speech? He denounced homosexuality as a practice on the basis that it was sin, and caused physical harm. When a teen, he lived on the streets as a homosexual prostitute.
What were his accusers alleging? It seems to be either he he hates homosexuals, including himself, or that Whatcott is an ex-homosexual that hates others.
I ask because it’s now an unquestioned axiom that “orientation” is permanent and involuntary. If true, how is his criticism of homosexuality more offensive than Chris Rock dropping the N-word? If false, that opens up a whole other conversation.
Meanwhile, Trinity Western University is a privately-funded Christian university, seeking to open a School of Law. Their critics claim their Christian opposition to SSM should disqualify them from doing so. Disagreement with special interest groups should never disqualify a University from teaching, but it might.
Elsewhere, courts ruled that Eastern Michigan University expelled a psych student (Julea Ward) for her Christian faith (the case centered around homosexuality); and unexpected SSM child custody implications were aired by fellow Clash contributor Jennifer Thieme.
Against this backdrop, the “don’t like it / don’t have one” line rings hollow. The people who promised no abridgment of rights…? They lied.
Image: Source: http://flickr.com/photos/stibbons/481177834/; author: stibbons