'Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent' is a Nice Sentiment, But It's Unrealistic

A worthy group of same-sex marriage supporters have penned and signed a gracious letter in which they all allow that Americans ought to have the right to object to same-sex marriage and not lose their jobs and livelihoods over it.

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They write that the case of Brendan Eich motivated them to step forward. Eich was ousted as CEO of Mozilla because he donated $1000 to support California’s Prop 8 in 2008. He was targeted by dating site OkCupid’s leadership, and eliminated from his job. Eich got their attention because his case became famous. They fail to address less famous, yet even more pernicious, cases of intolerance for those who object to re-defining marriage. In those cases, same-sex marriage opponents were taken to court, and courts ruled against them. The full force of government now threatens their livelihoods.

The authors write that persuasion, not coercion, is the best way to achieve their aims.

Is opposition to same-sex marriage by itself, expressed in a political campaign, beyond the pale of tolerable discourse in a free society? We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission. Even in our constitutional system, persuasion is a minority’s first and best strategy. It has served us well and we should not be done with it.

It’s fine to acknowledge that Americans retain the right to defend an institution that goes back thousands of years and comes from a power far higher than Washington, but the authors of the letter never once acknowledge the fact that same-sex marriage’s recent progress is not owed as much to persuasion, but to coercive court decisions, intimidation and media bullying. Those court decisions go against votes held in states as diverse as Texas, North Carolina and California. Whenever Americans have had the chance to vote on whether to preserve the definition of marriage or to change it, they have voted to preserve it.

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But the courts and those pushing the court cases lack respect for those votes. Soon enough courts will impose a re-definition of marriage on every single state. The court decisions combined with the prevailing media winds, hurricane force in favor of re-defining marriage over the past few years, have surely intimidated many Americans into telling pollsters that they support same-sex marriage now, when in their hearts they are at least skeptical. They no longer feel free to voice their opinion. City ordinances like the ones recently adopted in San Antonio, Texas further chill free speech on the marriage issue. The authors acknowledge none of this.

So the proverbial train has already left the station. Persuasion was jettisoned years ago. Coercion will win. The lesson that others will learn from this is a dangerous one for the principle of self-governance.

The authors of “Freedom to marry” do not acknowledge any of this.

They also do not acknowledge the pernicious use of courts to target individual business owners who object to performing services related to same-sex weddings. Why not? Surely they are all familiar with the photographer and the baker whose livelihoods are now threatened because they took their religious beliefs concerning marriage seriously. Why did the authors run away from those cases? Is it mere convenience, or cowardice?

The authors write:

The gay rights struggle is about freedom and equality for all. The best and most free society is one that allows the largest number to live true to their core beliefs and identities. It is a society that allows its members to speak their minds and shape their own aspirations.

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For all? Do they really believe this? The majority of this country remain Christian. That majority played by the rules and has had its votes concerning marriage canceled. Eich was ousted at the company he co-founded because he played by the rules. What was done to him was evil. The lesson that his case ultimately teaches is that if you play by the rules, you’re a sucker and you will lose. That lesson is reinforced in the cases of the baker and the photographer.

Christians who object to re-defining marriage find themselves targeted via lawfare. When they step up and attempt to pass reasonable laws to defend religious conscience, they get compared to the racists who erected Jim Crow laws. They are no longer allowed to defend themselves via the ordinary means available to a self-governing people, either in court or through legislation. This is also dangerous, and evil.

The “both/and” nature of the letter is nice, but ultimately unrealistic and sentimental. The hard left that has always been behind the re-define and ultimately destroy marriage movement does not do “both.” It forces and enforces either/or. It bullies. It coerces. It is openly dishonest, hateful and intolerant. It knows no limits to what is acceptable and what is not, in debating in a pluralistic society. It is ruthless, and it is winning.

Now that courts are imposing re-definitions of marriage, there is no stopping further re-definitions to the point that marriage loses all meaning. Some have called for “government to get out of the marriage business” to settle the same-sex marriage debate amicably. How naive. The totalitarian left wants a massive government, and diluting marriage and the family provide a clear means to break one of the strongest buffers between the individual and the state — especially in our formative, childhood years. Eventually, the threat of lawsuits and the probability of losing livelihoods will force Christian religious groups and their leaders and supporters to abandon any involvement in marriages, at least in a public sense, as they have already been driven out of involvement in adoptions and other services. Driving religion out of marriage will have consequences.

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The “freedom to marry” letter will not even slow any of this down.

 

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