It’s not news now that the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision overturned both the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. Interestingly, I think a reasonably-good argument can be made that constitutionally, DOMA was indeed problematic from a federalist position, though I’m not nearly convinced that it should carry the day. My question, though, is why Justice Kennedy (“Sir Anthony the Schizophrenic”) chose in his majority opinion to employ federalism as part (the better part, by far) of his argument, and all the while in his pronouncements upon abortion law, seems to be comfortable with the trampling of federalism by Roe v. Wade.Supreme Court

That the redefinition of marriage will have some negative effects upon religious freedom seems unarguable; this article argues that those effects will be devastating:

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/06/10393/

Personally, I’m beginning to think about truly Christian responses to this, specifically our response to the entire institution of marriage, whether we ought to withdraw from state-sanctioned marriage (methinks so), whether we ought not to consider some redefinition of our own (more on this later). As long as I live in a state where real marriage continues to be the law, I can be content; when/if I reside in a state that defines it otherwise, I will prepare to take some fairly radical steps.

12 responses »

  1. ken says:

    I’m curious Byron, would you support someone who refused to rent a room to an inter-racial couple because the owner’s religion disapproved of race mixing? What about a kosher deli that hung up a sign saying “Jews only, no gentiles allowed” ?

  2. Byron says:

    Yes, I would, Ken, because I think we should give wide latitude to people’s religious beliefs, even if we don’t agree with them; if a Jewish deli owner barred me from his deli, I’d see that as his prerogative (and his financial loss). A second defense of this position is that I believe people’s rights to use their own property as they see fit ought to be more respected than they are. I do recognize that my position on such matters is outside of the mainstream of contemporary thought–but that’s certainly a place I’m accustomed to being!

    As an aside, as a homeowner who rents out an apartment currently, I believe I am free to discriminate as I see fit; it is when I advertise my home for rent that I become subject to applicable laws. That said, it is entirely appropriate that I suffer whatever consequences (primarily financial) that might stem from my choices.

    Interesting that I hadn’t checked my comments in a couple or three weeks, and happen to two hours after your post…

  3. ken says:

    So by your argument, (don’t allow gay marriage because some religious people object), inter-racial marriage should never have been allowed either (because some religious people would object).

    • Byron says:

      Three thoughts:
      1. “Don’t allow gay marriage because some religious people object” is not my argument; never has been and never will be.

      2. You’ll have to connect the dots for me between what I said in my response–which I understood to relate to a person’s property/business and how a person might be compelled by the state to use property/business in contradiction to one’s beliefs–and what you think I am arguing. I would never have guessed by your questions that you were taking the argument down the path you did, and I don’t see your questions as having pertinence to the point you make in your follow-up, but I’ll certainly allow you to explain.

      3. For the sanity of both of us, I think we’d be better off avoiding the comparisons between inter-racial marriage and gay marriage. I think we’ve hoed that ground enough… 🙂

  4. ken says:

    The entire premise of the web site you cited was:

    “if gay marriage is allowed then religious people who own businesses will have to recognize them even though it goes against their religious beliefs and you have infringed upon those peoples religious freedom. therefore, gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed”

    I.e. gay marriage should be banned because of some people’s religious beliefs.

  5. Byron says:

    Disagreed, Ken. Here is the first sentence from the article:

    “In recent essays here at Public Discourse, Mark Regnerus argued that same-sex marriage would harm marriage for everyone, and John Smoot argued that it would be bad for children in particular.”

    The fact that redefining marriage holds potential to harm religious freedom–which I think is demonstrably true–is the third issue that this particular website chose to highlight in its opposition. I.e., there are several reasons why marriage shouldn’t be so redefined.

  6. ken says:

    And yet neither Mark Regnerus or John Smoot nor any of these other so-called experts has been willing to have their theories reviewed under oath (i.e. say at the prop 8 trial or any other court cases dealing with gay marriage). Instead they deal in vague “threats” to children with no real evidence to support them.

    I also notice their concern for children doesn’t extend to children of gay couples. Children who are demonstrably harmed because their parents cannot marry. Even the Prop 8 defenses own expert (Blankenhorn) admitted these children would be helped by allowing gay marriage.

    and I retract the “entire” statement. However the issue you were addressing here was the religious argument.

    “The fact that redefining marriage holds potential to harm religious freedom”

    and is this “potential” harm any different than the “harm” caused by inter-racial marriage (i.e. to those who religious beliefs are opposed to such marriages).

    what about the harm to people who’s religious beliefs support gay marriage? Why should they be forced to adhere to YOUR religious beliefs about gay marriage?

  7. Byron says:

    OK, Ken, went back and re-read the article, so as to refresh my memory and comment better. And I don’t believe that the article is saying “gay marriage should be banned because of some people’s religious beliefs”, and there are several reasons for this:

    1. I disagree with your very approach to the subject in this respect: when you say “gay marriage should be banned” (for whatever reason), you assume the existence of an entity that I deny exists (or, better put, an entity that ever existed until very recent years). I reject the very terminology; it is not that I want to “ban” something that exists; it is that I continue to maintain that we are talking about the redefinition of the entire enterprise of marriage, not the “denial” of one valid form thereof. I’m not sure how we get past that impasse, but I think that’s a more important point than perhaps I’ve suggested before.

    2. From re-reading the article, I’m reminded that the point isn’t about people’s “beliefs” (I personally think adding the word “religious” is superfluous, but that’s not a rabbit trail I care to pursue); it’s about the loss of basic freedoms by virtue of this redefinition. From the article:

    “There are several well-known cases of bakers, photographers—even a religious nonprofit property owner—facing grave legal jeopardy for their refusal to offer their services or facilities in contradiction of their felt obligations to witness to the truth about marriage as it is taught by their faith.”

    In other words, it’s more than saying, “because I don’t believe the definition of marriage should be changed, it shouldn’t”; to the degree this article is an argument against marriage’s redefinition, it is an argument against the harm to people’s livelihood, etc., that would result from the normalization of this. Now, I don’t think you’re oblivious to this, because you do mention “harm” in your last post, but I think it’s important to say that this particular argument is about the real harm that this will cause to many people. Now, as I argued in response to your first post, it’s my belief that if a Jew doesn’t want to serve Gentiles in his kosher store, that should be his prerogative, but I recognize that this notion doesn’t play in contemporary American society–and it doesn’t seem likely to play in the event a Christian baker refuses to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding. There are thousands of discrimination lawsuits waiting to happen in these instances.

    Candidly, I can’t speak to Regnerus or Smoot in terms of the Prop 8 trial, so I won’t attempt to.

    When you speak of the harm that would come to children of gay couples, I honestly don’t buy it. Now, let me quickly add this: I can see harm in the sense of certain financial concerns, for instance (and I don’t doubt there might be others as well), but my remedy of this would not be to redefine marriage, but rather for the state to create some type of domestic partnership deal as has been done in some states and cases, if indeed that was the only other way to correct these harms. I’m amenable to that.

    I think your final thought begins to get into hypotheticals that are a bit far-fetched, to be candid. I suppose if you could give me some real life scenario where someone’s livelihood would be threatened, or where they’d face a discrimination lawsuit, if marriage weren’t changed, then I could consider it. My imagination isn’t at that point.

  8. ken says:

    Gay marriage exists whether you like it or not. And your arguments about its existence strike me more as someone sticking his fingers in his ears and going “lalalalala I can’t hear you.”

    ” I’m reminded that the point isn’t about people’s ‘beliefs’ (I personally think adding the word ?religious‘ is superfluous, but that’s not a rabbit trail I care to pursue)”

    Your own words in this article are:

    “That the redefinition of marriage will have some negative effects upon religious freedom seems unarguable; this article argues that those effects will be devastating:”

    You are the one who made it about religious freedom. Hence people’s religious beliefs.

    “it is an argument against the harm to people’s livelihood, etc., that would result from the normalization of this.”

    No the argument you are presenting has little to do with gay marriage. It about anti-discrimination laws. Because those are what are forcing the situations you cite, not gay marriage. And those laws are around for very good reasons. The laws were passed in reaction to the insidious and harmful discrimination against people because of their race, religion, nationality, gender and orientation. Simply put, if you want to operate a business in the US then you are not allowed to discriminate against people because of their race, religion, nationality, gender and (sometimes depending on where you live) orientation. The US has already learned the harmful effects of allowing businesses to hang out signs like “no coloreds allowed” or “no jews allowed” And trying to hide the bigotry of those signs behind your bible is never going to work.

    • Byron says:

      Well in one sense to the first point, you’re certainly right, Ken; some states have redefined legal marriage, and no, there isn’t anything I can do about it, except to determine how to respond to it and its attendant negative effects.

      To the second point, you equate the word “freedom” with the word “beliefs”. I see freedom as encompassing far more than simply “beliefs”; if our “freedom” extended only to our “beliefs”, then constitutional guarantees thereof wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re printed upon, because “beliefs” can’t be constrained by government anyway, right? What I think in my mind is my domain.

      Finally, I suppose you are technically right on this point as well; the issue is anti-discrimination laws, and I have admitted that I can make an argument that they ought not exist, though I am not at all, for instance, in favor of racism. But it’s a shame you have to label “bigotry” a sincere belief that marriage ought to remain what it has (essentially) for thousands of years.

      But I’m not surprised…

  9. ken says:

    “To the second point, you equate the word “freedom” with the word “beliefs”. I see freedom as encompassing far more than simply “beliefs”; ”

    the “freedom” you are referring to is based on religious belief. You entire argument is based on your religious beliefs about gays and marriage.

    “But it’s a shame you have to label “bigotry” a sincere belief that marriage ought to remain what it has (essentially) for thousands of years. ”

    thousands of years eh. So you support wives being little more than the property of her husband with no say in who she is to marry? Husbands having multiple wives? That’s the way marriage was thousands of years ago. I find the claim that marriage hasn’t (essentially) changed in thousands of years to simply be ignorant of the history of marriage. The “no coloreds/jews/muslims/japs/gays/etc” signs is what I consider to be bigoted.

    • Byron says:

      OK, Ken, think I’ll leave you with the last word on this one, so as to prevent us going round-and-round any further than we probably already have. Thanks as always for a good discussion.

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