So the eventual fallout with the Supreme Court ruling knocking down state laws that prevent same-sex marriage is that homosexual people can now enjoy the same rights and privileges that straight people have been enjoying for a long time. Yet, in some sections of the country, there is a vociferous yet futile pushback. Some people who don’t want the world to change are crying about activist judges (yet not about activist legislators), and are screaming about the SCOTUS ruling being an affront to their religious liberty.
Here’s what’s wrong with this stance: the SCOTUS ruling does not, in any way, require clergy to marry gay couples. That is still covered under the separation of church and state. It is not an infringement of religious liberty. It does not force religious adherents to do anything. One can still practice and believe as they wish; that is our right. But that right extends only into matters of religion. In matters of society, that is not the case. The SCOTUS ruling nullifies all secular laws that prevent homosexual marriage, so even if those laws are still on the state books, they are unenforceable because any couple prevented by those obsolete laws can file suit against the state, county, or clerk, and the state will lose.
The answer to this “affront” against religious liberty, as proposed by those who don’t want to play by the rules, is to stand behind any religious liberty laws (of man) and refuse to issue licenses. Just because they disagree with homosexual marriage, they claim that they can deny the license on religious grounds. The Texas attorney general threw this solution up for any county clerks to follow in case they had objections.
However, the final answer to that problem is the growing notion that if a public servant cannot fulfill the full duties of their civil service role, they should step down from office if they don’t want a civil rights lawsuit on their hands. Most counties, when they look at the balance sheet, would rather not go into protracted litigation simply because one or two county employees don’t want to do their job.
So why do so many True Believers weep and gnash their teeth over gay marriage being an affront to their religious liberty? Initially, I had a hard time understanding that. But to get to the root of the issue, I had to draw upon my own experience from when I was a dyed-in-the-cloth True Believer. The issue of religious liberty stems from the notion that all things in the world are under God’s kingdom, and that all ideas held by the church are the law of the land. In their eyes, their reality is the only reality. It follows, then, that the church’s idea of marriage is the only law allowed. To have the law of man (or any other religion) come in and say, “Hey, there are other realities,” is ecclesiastically uncomfortable, and to them it feels like a personal attack, an attack on the faith. “How is it possible that God’s Kingdom must make space for this? There is only God’s Kingdom!” Any statement that mandates that other viewpoints are also valid is seen as an attack.
When a viewpoint doesn’t fit reality, it is time to adjust the viewpoint or let it go. Even faith can evolve (nobody is stoning people who get divorces, case in point). The fact of the matter is that homosexuality is a part of reality. Allowing homosexuals to marry is not a religious attack.