March 5, 2016

MICHAEL NEEDHAM: Religious Liberty In America: The Next Chapter. It’s Impossible To Be Neutral When The Left Is On Offense.

In the minds of many moderate American voters, and certainly the political class in Washington, the Republican Party has a big problem: Whenever it seems to have figured out a formula for success, uncomfortable debates over so-called social issues raised by party-base activists seem to get in the way. In 2012 and 2014, it was the Republican Party’s supposed fixation with contraception. More recently, the issue du jour has been gay marriage.

Buying into the theory that active engagement on these issues is a losing battle that will do more harm than good, the Republican leadership has tried to avoid these thorny issues without alienating its base, to little avail. In 2010, for example, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels argued that Barack Obama’s successor in the White House “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues.” The base never got over Daniels’s remark, and Daniels never mounted a presidential campaign.

With last year’s Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, some Republicans believe it is now finally possible to retreat from the marriage fight and achieve that long-desired, and politically salving, truce. Ohio Governor John Kasich has argued that “now that the issue of gay marriage is kind of off the table, we’re kind of down to one social issue,” a positive development that, he argues, leaves the party more room to address other concerns like childhood education, the environment, and infant mortality. Republican consultant John Feehery has written: “The Supreme Court has decided that everybody deserves a right to have a family, no matter what their sexual orientation. So be it. Let’s move on.”

Are they right? Have we reached Governor Daniel’s truce? Is it time to move on?

Alas, moving on is not so easy for some Americans. Moving on wasn’t an option for the Catholic Church a decade ago, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court imposed a new definition of marriage equating same-sex unions with those between husband and wife. After that decision, the Church was forced to abandon its adoption services due to laws requiring that it place kids with same-sex couples in contravention of its teachings. Moving on has not been an option for Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of an Oregon bakery who were forced under state anti-discrimination law to shut down their business because they could not in good conscience violate their Christian faith by participating in a same-sex wedding.

Read the whole thing.

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