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Religious Tolerance logo

Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.

Part 4: 2015-MAR-25 to 31: Accelerating changes
involving same-sex marriage, LGBT equality, etc.
Expected future events.
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from Part 3 which covered events earier in March.

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2015-MAR-25: The third National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) march will be held in one month:

Its theme is "March for freedom, march for truth, march for marriage." It will be held in Washington DC on 2015-APR-25, starting at noon local time. We are guessing that the reference to "freedom" refers to the "religious freedom to discriminate against the LGBT community" bills that have been launched in many states recently. The Area Map in their Event Schedule & Map says that their rally will gather "between Third Street and the Capitol Reflecting Pool." Actually the pictorial shows that some participants will gather in the pool. We assume that this is an error. The march will go North on Third Street, East on Constitution Avenue and South on First Street NE to the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building. Curiously, their Satellite map highlights the location of Starbucks, near the intersection of E Street NW and First Street NW -- part of a chain of stores that NOM is currently boycotting.

The previous march, in 2014, fizzled out. They expected about a half million participants and received only a few thousand. It is impossible to predict the turnout for the 2015 march. It may be higher because the legal battle is reaching a fever pitch as the U.S. Supreme Court may settle the matter nationally in June. On the other hand, it may be lower because the end of the conflict is in sight and the high court is likely to base their decision on the law rather than public demonstrations.

So far, they have been able to obtain zero sponsors and zero speakers for the march. This is not a good sign for them. But they do have a brand new web site for the march. It states:

"The 2015 March for Marriage is our last, best opportunity to reach the U.S. Supreme Court before they decide whether marriage as it has existed throughout our history is unconstitutional. For months, activist federal judges across the country have issued illegitimate rulings redefining marriage against the will of 50 million state voters and legislators who voted to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman."1

The New Civil Rights Movement -- a pro-equality group -- quotes the NOM web site:

"NOM calls their March for Marriage 'a powerful demonstration to the media, opinion leaders, legislators and jurists that a majority of Americans still stand for marriage as it has been traditionally and historically defined and handed down through the centuries.'

Of course, as every valid poll has shown for years, that's simply untrue, despite NOM's claim that a 'recent national survey found that 53% of American voters believe that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman, and that 61% of voters ae [sic] opposed to the US Supreme Court forcing state's [sic] to require same-sex 'marriage'."2

Unfortunately, there will probably be few Supreme Court personnel present to observe the march, because it will be happening on a Saturday.

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Interpreted literally, their statement seems to imply that the high court may declare opposite-sex marriages illegal and may forcibly divorce all husbands and wives. In reality, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the fundamental right to marry extends to same-sex couples. If it decides in favor of marriage equality, this will be the fifth time that marriage will have been redefined in the United States:

  • The first was in the mid 19th century at the conclusion of the civil war when slaves were freed and able for the first time to freely marry.

  • The second was in the late 19th century when some states banned profoundly deaf couples from marrying.

  • The third was in the early 20th century when the laws concerning deaf couples were all repealed.

  • The fourth was in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling declaring interracial marriages legal across the country.

The fifth started in 2004 when the first state -- Massachusetts -- legalized same-sex marriage. This was followed by dozens of plebiscites, legislative actions and rulings by state and federal courts which spread marriage equality across the U.S. so that over 70% of Americans now live in a location where same-sex couples can routinely obtain marriage licenses.

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2015-MAR: A noticeable shift in emphasis for and against same-sex marriage:

National & state groups that have fought against marriage equality are now reducing their efforts. They are reorganizing their staff, group effort, and funding to promote "religious freedom" bills in various states. These are sometimes called "religious freedom to discriminate" bills because their main intent is to allow companies that sell goods and services to the general public to discriminate against the LGBT community and other minorities. So, for example, a restaurant owner may hold a religious belief common many decades ago that God created different races of humans and placed them in different areas of the world. He might believe that God intend that the races remain separate and to not mix. Thus, he concludes that he should either ban native, black, asian and other non-white customers from his store or sit them at the back of the restaurant.

Another description of these bills might be "religious freedom to violate the Golden Rule" bills, because the bills facilitate companies doing onto their potential customers as the owners of the stores would certainly not want others to do onto them.

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2015-MAR-26: Indiana: New state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) becomes law:

Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). He did this in pite of fierce opposition by business leaders within the state. At first, people were not certain exactly what the law involved. It was billed by the Governor and Republican lawmakers in the Legislature as a copy of the federal RFRA in that it protected religious freedom of individuals in the state. But others said that the Act grants company owners the "religious freedom to discriminate" against their customers. Some suggested that it was aimed at oppressing and denigrating members of the LGBT community.

It turns out that both act guarantee the religious freedom of persons to exercise their religious beliefs. However:

  • The federal RFRA bill Indiana bill does not define the term "persons." People have been interpreting the term to mean individual living members fo the species "homo sapiens."
  • The Indiana RFRA bill does define "persons" to include individuals, churches, religious groups, businesses, corporations, etc.

It appears that the Democrats, LGBT community, civil rights groups, etc are correct: the Indiana RFRA bill is written to allow comapnies to discriminate aginst lesbians and gays with impunity.

The tsunami of outrage was beyond anything I have ever seen before. Mayors of at least two cities, and governors of at leat two states now forbid their employees to visit Indiana for business purposes. Numerous sports figures objected. A bunch of large corporations cancelled plans to invest in the state. NASCAR condemned the act. The list goes on. A week later and the negative reaction towards the bill hasn't seemed to slow down.

There is some speculation that religious, social, and political conservatives expect that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon leglalize same-sex marriage across the entire country. Some feel that if they must live in a country with marriage equality, then they at least want to make life as difficult as possible for the LGBT community to marry.

A similar bill was passed by the Legislature in Arkansas. But the governor vetoed it. There is widespread speculation that he didn't want to bring the devestation to his state that the Indiana RFRA caused.

More details:

  • Part 1 RFRA acts in multiple states, with Indiana's examined in detail.
     
  • Part 2 Comparing the federal RFRA of 1993 and the Indiana RFRA of 2015. 

  • Part 3 Reactions to the Indiana law.

  • Part 4 More reactions.

  • Part 5 Governor Pence having second thoughts? Union relocates conference. Potential Republican candidates for the
    Presidency in 2016 defend RFRAs.

  • Part 6 NASCAR denounces Indiana's RFRA. Family Research Center circulates petition and comments further on RFRAs.

  • Part 7 Family Research Council circulates petition, and comments further on state RFRA. Further Indiana RFRA developments.

  • Part 8 Additional comments on Indiana's RFRAs. Assessing where the truth lies.

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2015-MAR-27: Senate passes a remarkable pro-equality bill:

In the early morning of MAR-27, the Senators in Congress completed a marathon session just before they and their staff went on their two-week Easter break. In a remarkable development, eleven Republican Senators and a majority of Democratic Senators agreed with a proposed change by Senator Brian Schatz (D) of Hawaii:

In the past, the Social Security and Veterans' Administrations had:

"... consistently recognized marriage for couples based on the state where they live -- not the state where they married." 5

This meant that when a same sex marriage couple moved to one of the few remaining states where their marriage is not recognized, they were suddenly deprived of marriage-related Social Security and VA benefits & protections for themselves and their children.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council -- a group that has consistently opposed marriage equality -- was outraged and greatly disappointed at this development. He wrote that Social Security and VA benefits had been:

"... the last two federal holdouts that respect state marriage laws."

He also said that Republican:

"Senators Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Shelley Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Thom Tillis (NC), Ron Johnson (WI), and Bob Corker (TN) made it clear that they were quite comfortable undermining state marriage laws -- even when many of these same Republicans (Tillis in particular) -- were fighting last year to defend them! 5

This development shows that the Republican Party may now be starting to take tiny steps toward support of marriage equality. In this case, they are valuing the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution over the same-sex marriage bans that still remain in force in a dozen or so individual states.

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Future events expected:

  • 2015-APR-28: The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a two and a half hour hearing on a consolidated case in involving appeals of four same-sex marriage-related cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

  • 2015-JUN/JUL: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in the consolidated SSM case involving four states. It is likely to resolve the same-sex marriage across the entire country, one way or the other. There are many predictions about the outcome of this ruling:

    • It could conceivably legalize same-sex marriage across the entire country as the same court did in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. That was the case that legalized interracial marriages across the U.S.

    • It might allow individual states to ban same-sex marriage but require them to recognize such marriages when solemnized in other states.

    • It could define marriage as a basic right for opposite-sex couples only, and give individual states the right to recognize same-sex marriages if they wish.

    • Other possibilities exist.

The population of the U.S. is about 320 million. About 5% identify as gay or lesbian, or will do so later in life. Another 5% are bisexual. That means that over 30 million Americans may want to marry a person of the same-sex, either now or in the future. That is a lot of lives to hang in the balance waiting for a Supreme Court ruling in mid-2015. However, they are greatly outnumbered by most religious conservatives who are anxious that same-sex couples not be allowed to marry.

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This topic continues with developments during 2015-APR.

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References used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Mark Your Calendars for the 2015 March for Marriage!" National Organization for Marriage, 2015-MAR, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  2. David Badash, "Just One Month Away And NOM's March For Marriage Lists Zero Sponsors Or Speakers," The New Civil Rights Movement, 2015-MAR-25, at: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-MAR-10
Latest update: 2015-MAR-26
Author: B.A. Robinson
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