Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, June 22, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage Endangers Religious Liberty

The word “marriage” doesn’t appear even once in the text of the U.S. Constitution, and the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion. But that hasn’t stopped government from already trying to silence anyone who believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Some states are trying to punish businesses that decline to provide services for gay weddings, such as a baker asked to bake a wedding cake or a photographer hired to take pictures. The federal government wants its employees to endorse gay, lesbian, and transgender lifestyles. All this has already occurred even though the Supreme Court has not said that the Constitution requires gay marriage in every state. If the Supreme Court finds a Constitutional right to gay marriage, government will be empowered to run even more roughshod over religious liberty.

Justice Antonin Scalia noted one area where this could happen during oral arguments in the marriage case called Obergefell v. Hodges. He pointed out that states give ministers the authority to conduct marriages. If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, that won’t change the minds of religious leaders who believe the Biblical definition of marriage. If there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the natural consequence will be to remove authority over performing marriage from ministers who disagree. Some states that permit same-sex marriage make exceptions for clergy, but Justice Scalia recognized that those exceptions will not hold up. As he said, “You can’t appoint people who will then go ahead and violate the Constitution.”

The lawyer arguing for same-sex marriage protested that religious liberty is safe, but it’s hard to take her at her word. There’s no reason why clergy would be off limits. In creating a new constitutional right, the Supreme Court would be erasing our oldest right, free speech in the First Amendment.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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