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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious freedom to discriminate and denigrate:

Part 1 of 3:
2015-JUL: Conservative Christian leaders issue
statements opposing the gay marriage decision
of the U.S. Supreme Court during 2015-JUN.
Rebuttals included.

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Background on marriage equality for same-sex couples:

On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. This was a consolidated case involving for lawsuits about gay marriage, one from each of four states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. The court based their ruling on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That Amendment requires federal, state, district, territorial and local governments to treat people equally. In Obergefell, the court decided that the 14th Amendment also applies to same-sex couples who want to marry.

This ruling changed the status quo in relatively few locations in the United States: At the time of the ruling, only 13 states and 5 U.S. territories were still banning gay marriages.

This ruling is almost identical to that by the High Court during 1967. That case was Loving v. Virginia. That ruling legalized marriage for interracial couples across the country. At the time, 16 U.S. states, all in the south-east of the U.S. mainland, still had bans on interracial marriages. Now, almost half a century later, the vast majority of adults in the U.S. favor marriage equality for interracial couples.

Within two months after the High Court decision, same-sex couples were able to go to their local courthouse, obtain a marriage license, and be married, On the mainland, only a few counties were refusing to issue such licenses. Some of them had stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether. In most -- or perhaps all -- states, couples could simply go to another county in their state, obtain a license there, and proceed with their wedding. Among the U.S. Territories only American Samoa was not issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Their government was still trying to decide whether the High Court's ruling applied to them.

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A press conference by conservative Christian groups opposing the High Court ruling:

On 2015-JUL-01, representatives of eleven conservative Christian groups held a press conference on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. They expressed concern about the restriction on religious freedom and liberty that has resulted -- and will continue to occur -- from the court's decision in Obergefell.

  • Their concerns are not related to religious freedom and liberty in the traditional meaning of these terms. These include: the freedom of religious thought, religious speech, religious assembly, religious proselytizing, etc.

  • Rather, they are related to the emerging meaning of these terms: the freedom and liberty of people to discriminate against, and denigrate others -- specifically same-sex couples. Such discrimination violates the Golden Rule which is found in various forms in all of the major world religions.

We recommend that whenever people see the term "religious freedom" or "religious liberty" that they consider whether the the terms are used in their traditional meaning or the emerging meaning.

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Quotes from participants at the Press Conference:

  • 1. John Henry Westen, Editor in Chief for LifeSiteNews:
    "In Ireland, churches face fines for not letting same-sex couples have ceremonies on church property. In France, negative speech against homosexuality is banned, and in the Canadian province of Quebec, parents are forced to teach their homeschooled children the government's sexual ideology. ..."

    "Such laws, which are the next stage of the anti- Christian laws in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and elsewhere in America, are not just harmful to religious people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, men who sex with men have 44 times the HIV diagnoses of other men, and the rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 4 - 6 times that of other men. By controlling who is allowed freedom of speech, governments in other nations have caused great harm to public health and individuals who engage in same- sex sexual relationships."

Rebuttal:

    If the STI rates are so high among male persons with a homosexual orientation. then it could be argued that the government should encourage same-sex marriage on the basis that married couples will have fewer sexual partners.

    Fortunately, the First Amendment to the U.S. protects the freedom of religious speech, writing, and assembly. So everyone is allowed to express their opinion. Pastors, ministers, priests, etc. are free to refuse to marry couples on the basis that they are of the same sex, or of the "wrong" denomination, or of the "wrong" religion, color, etc. with impunity. They have been doing this for generations. However, this discrimi9nation does not necessarily extend to public accommodations." These are for-profit companies in business to provide goods and services to the general public. Some cities and states have human rights laws that limit the ability of public to discriminate against potential customers because of their race, skin color, gender, etc. Some human rights laws include sexual orientation as a protected class.

  • 2. Scott Schittl, Campaigns Director of the English language division of CitizenGo:

    "Religious freedom isn’t just an issue for Christians in Muslim countries.

    As we all know too well, it is an issue for Jews, Christians and Muslims and people of faith, generally, in the West particularly as the West becomes more and more secularized.

    We have seen this up- close in our petitions, with, among others: the persecution of a bakery in Northern Ireland for refusing to decorate a cake, saying, 'Support Gay Marriage,'; and, with florists and teachers here in the US who have unflinchingly told the truth about God’s design for humanity, even under threat of fines, prison, and job loss.

    Regrettably, this phenomenon is now rampant.

    We, conservatives and people of faith, must work like never before to reach out to our natural constituencies. And, we must make effective use of organizations who use the latest technologies to affect political, economic and moral outcomes in our interconnected society.

    Put in stark relief by the Supreme Court’s decision, I sincerely believe that there are huge numbers of people who are now, and who will be, in greater and greater numbers in the future, wanting to engage with us, precisely because they are interested in their own religious freedom.”

Rebuttal:

It is important to differentiate between the religious freedom of belief & speech, and the religious freedom of action. In the U.S., two people can carry on a conversation about their religious beliefs about marriage, even if one person is the owner of a public accommodation and the other is a potential customer. This is religious speech and is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, if the owner of a public accommodation takes an action based on their religious beliefs, and refuses to serve a potential customer, then they may have run afoul of a state or local human rights legislation.

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  • 3. Gualberto Garcia Jones, Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, etc. Statement in English:
    “ ... As a lawyer, I am shocked that the highest court in the land has definitively abandoned its role as arbiters of cases and controversies before them in order to become a super legislature of enlightened social engineers.

    And that is where we are today. There were many more cases which contributed to the legal and moral corruption of the United States, but this much is clear. Christian America is under siege by the forces of secularism. Kennedy is the new Blackmun, and Obergefell v Hodges is the new Roe v. Wade.

    There is no doubt that the advocates of same sex marriage will attempt to use the full force of the US Government to force Christians to secularize.”

Rebuttal:

The main function of the U.S. Supreme Court is to compare federal, state, or local laws to requirements of the the U.S. Constitution, and decide whether the former is constitutional or not. That is what the High Court did in Obergefell. They considered the bans on gay marriage in four states and determined that they violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thus the bans became unconstitutional and unenforceable.

It is true that Americans disagree about religious matters. There are hundreds of millions of followers of many different religions in the U.S., and a much smaller number of Agnostics, Atheists, NOTAs (NOT Affiliated with any faith group. They challenge each other and debate. That is what freedom of speech and religion is all about. But neither is under siege by the other.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Religious and cultural leaders: Supreme Court marriage decision imperils religious liberty, undermines Constitution," Life Site News, 2015-JUL-01, at: https://www.lifesitenews.com/
  2. "Quotes from Press Conference," 2015-JUL-01, at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > Same-sex marriage> same-sex marriage sub-menu > Kentucky > Supreme Court > here

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Copyrights held by the ten speakers.
Original posting: 2015-AUG-24
Latest update : 2015-AUG-24
Complied by: B.A. Robinson
Rebuttals by: B.A. Robinson

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