by Jack Minor
When the United States Supreme Court issued its radical decision overturning millennia of beliefs regarding the nature of marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion claimed that those who had religious objections and concerns over the ruling need not worry, because they still had constitutional protections under the First Amendment. However, yesterday the court revealed that Kennedy’s assurances were worthless.
“Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.”
He then went on to say that those who had religious convictions against same-sex marriage would be free to hold those beliefs.
“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
At face value, his decision appears to be reasonable and accommodating of both sides of the issue. However, in just a little over two months, the court has indicated that it has no intention of honoring its claims of religious freedom.
In Kentucky, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis stated that based on her sincerely held Christian beliefs she could not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Not wanting to discriminate, Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses, even to traditional opposite-sex couples.
However, “gay” activists said that she was discriminating against them and sued to force her to issue the licenses. When Davis reached out to the state to find some way of providing her a religious accommodation that would still allow the county to issue licenses, the “gay” community said that was not good enough and she had to issue the licenses herself.
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear her case, letting a previous ruling stand that said she must issue the licenses. The following day, those on both sides waited to see what she would do. No doubt, “gays” were waiting with anticipation to see if she would back down. If Davis were to have done so then she would be open to criticism by these same activists with charges of hypocrisy for compromising her beliefs.
To her credit, Davis showed that her beliefs really are “sincerely held” by refusing to issue the licenses despite a crowd showing up to obtain marriage licenses.
Davis issued a statement affirming that she must remain true to what the bible teaches in this area.
“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision. I was elected by the people to serve as the County Clerk. I intend to continue to serve the people of Rowan County, but I cannot violate my conscience.”
Now, Davis and her staff have been ordered to appear before U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning where she could face contempt of court charges that result in financial penalties and jail time.
Davis has received death threats for exercising her First Amendment rights to freely exercise her religion. But it seems those who wish to punish her realize the optics of seeing a woman taken away in handcuffs for believing the Christian teaching on marriage might harm their case for tolerance. They are calling for the judge to impose financial penalties but no jail time. By doing so, they can punish Davis without it providing a visual image to illustrate their real feelings to those who disagree with them on this issue.
If the Supreme Court really meant what it said when it claimed that those with religious beliefs have their rights, they would have taken up this case in order to show that they are willing to stand for the First Amendment. That they did not do so shows that the official position of the court is now that Christians are second class citizens and must keep their beliefs to themselves.
What is amazing is the double standard being applied. Here in Colorado, Jack Phillips, a Christian cake maker was told he must make a cake supporting same-sex marriage, despite his religious objections due to sexual orientation being a protected class.
However, in the same civil rights statutes religion is also a protected class. When a Christian went to homosexual bakeries and asked them to make a cake with bible verses affirming marriage between a man and woman, they refused for the same reasons Phillips did.
Yet a judge ruled that while Phillips must make cakes that go against his beliefs, the homosexuals are perfectly within their rights to refuse to make the cake with bible verses because it goes against their beliefs about marriage.
Prior to the American Revolution, in Virginia Baptist preachers were arrested in their churches and homes and thrown in jail for not getting a license from the state to preach. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were so shocked to see these good and moral people thrown in jail for simply exercising their conscience that it inspired them to take up the cause of defending these preachers. This also caused them to so vehemently take up the cause of individual liberty.
Today, more of God’s people need to be as courageous as Davis, even if it means going to jail. By doing show, we are showing the world we truly mean that the bible is the inspired word of God. This in turn has the potential to have the same effect that happened in Virginia where those who previously supported the homosexuals will wake up and see that they are not really about tolerance, but forced advocacy.