Biden, Democrats Moving to Ban Traditional Marriage Advocates from the Public Square

Seth Wenig

America is about to learn that what liberals actually mean when they claim to support “separation of church and state” is they want to use the power of government to silence those who disagree with them on same-sex marriage.

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For years, liberals have perverted the meaning of Thomas Jefferson’s “absolute wall of separation” for keeping the state out of the church to keeping those in the church who uphold the Bible’s definition of marriage out of the public square.

The occasion for this teachable moment is the “Respect for Marriage Act” now before the Senate. Democrats claim the proposal is required to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide, even though the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in 2015 did precisely that.

The House passed a similar bill last summer, so there are some differences between the two chambers’ versions that will have to be ironed out, but that will happen quickly and President Joe Biden will sign the measure into the law.

A dozen Republican senators voted with all of the Democrats to advance the proposal. Had this dozen GOP lawmakers voted against advancing the bill, it would still be tied up in the Senate, with an excellent chance of not going any further before the 118th Congress convenes. There’s no guarantee, however, that the new Republican-controlled House of Representatives would block the proposal.

There are two elements here that command attention. The first element is seen in a Washington Post news analysis by staff writer Aaron Blake that reveals one of the most important and fundamental divides in American politics.

The same-sex marriage bill, according to Blake, asks lawmakers “to codify state and federal recognition of a right that the Supreme Court has ruled already exists.” In other words, the rights of every individual American citizen are defined by law, as passed by Congress, signed by the president, and enforced by the Court.

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That understanding of the source of individual rights would shock and sadden the Founders, who declared in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 that:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …

See the difference? The American government was originally based on the understanding that the source of individual rights is the Creator and that government’s purpose is no more, but no less, than to protect those rights.

For liberals, government is the source of individual rights, and that means government defines those rights and has the power to redefine them as desired by whoever happens to be in control at any given time.

And since liberals are in control of the government, they intend to do precisely that—define the right of religious expression and practice so as to exclude from the public square all of those whose sincere faith requires them to reject same-sex marriage.

Simply put, the liberals are saying to millions of Americans that they have no right to disagree in the public square with same-sex marriage and the state can and indeed soon will take their property via taxes and use them to support the enforcement of same-sex marriage as a political right.

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That enforcement is the second element here that commands attention. The bill includes provisions that authorize the IRS to jerk the tax exemption of any church or non-profit that opposes same-sex marriage. The bill also encourages litigation to be brought against those same institutions in the court system to enforce the right to same-sex marriage.

Here’s what that means: Soon after Biden signs the bill into law, there will begin to be same-sex couples demanding to be married in evangelical churches they know to be opposed to the practice.

If the pastor refuses to perform the ceremony, the church will be sued and it will lose in court. That litigation will then be used by the IRS as justification for ending the church’s tax-exempt status, as well as the tax-deductibility of congregants’ tithes and contributions.

But that’s not all. The IRS is being primed to be ready for action against evangelical and traditional Catholic social service institutions as well. As Heritage Action for America explains:

Just months after Democrats used the Inflation Reduction Act to fund 87,000 new IRS agents, the Respect for Marriage Act would be giving those new agents carte blanche to harass and target religious schools and other faith-based entities that oppose same-sex marriage and eventually strip them of their tax-exempt status.

Worse, it would create a roving license to sue anyone acting “under color of law” – a loosely defined term that would include those providing government-funded or -regulated services. As a result, adoption centers and foster care providers with religious objections to same-sex marriage would have to close down.

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Talk about a slippery slope! Once government becomes the source and dispenser of individual rights, there is no such thing as a “safe space.” What follows, sooner or later, is official persecution of those who demand their right to practice their faith and then speak publicly and vote accordingly.

And don’t be fooled by claims the bill has been amended to include “protections of religious liberty.” As Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation puts it, such amendments are little more than “fig leaf, smoke and mirrors, lip service, bait and switch.”

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