by Dan Savage
on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 3:40 PM
Two must-read posts by Andrew Sullivan today. He loudly calls bullshit on laws being floated in Kansas, Tennessee, and Idaho that would allow individuals, businesses, and government employees to discriminate against gay couples if gay marriage—or gay relationships or gay existences—violate "deeply held religious beliefs." Andrew asks: Why no laws allowing devout Catholics to discriminate against divorced and remarried couples?
For me, with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on divorce—which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels—is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of previously divorced people?
For that matter, why no consideration of those whose religious beliefs demand that they not bless marriages outside their own faith-community? Do we enshrine the right of, say, an Orthodox Jewish hotel-owner to discriminate against unmarried couples who might be inter-married across faiths? Do we allow an evangelical to discriminate against Mormon couples, because their doctrine about marriage is so markedly different from mainstream Christianity’s?
It seems to me that the acid test for the new bills being prepared by the Christianist right with respect to religious freedom and marriage is whether they are discriminatory against gays and straights alike. Currently, they don’t begin to pass muster on that front. Until they do, the presumption that they are motivated by bigotry rather than faith is perfectly legitimate.
National Review has four pieces up right now on marriage equality. All take it as a premise that civil marriage for gay people is a civilizational catastrophe and argue for a ramped up culture war against it. Those who once thought there could be some accommodation between gays and the GOP can only be further dismayed. Our liberties and dignity are meaningless to them—and there are close to no gay writers or thinkers on the right or center right that are allowed to participate in this debate. At some point, you begin to wonder whether this isn’t more than posturing. When they believe gays should be denied any legally supported relationship, when they oppose all anti-discrimination laws for gays (but are fine with them for every other minority), when they oppose hate crime laws for gays (but support them in every other category), you begin to realize that they are still living in the 1970s.