Saturday, June 27, 2015

being and behavior

"Truth is not determined by a majority vote." - Pope Benedict XVI

On Friday, the Supreme Court made it illegal for states to outlaw same-sex unions. I'm not a lawyer - and I'm certainly no expert on the Constitution - but I agree with those who have called this decision "judicial activism". 

To a first point, whether or not you agree with same-sex unions, I firmly believe this was an issue that should have been left to the states - to the people - to decide - and not left to the judgment of nine lawyers (to borrow from Justice Scalia's term from his dissenting opinion). Reading through the majority and minority opinions issued by the justices, I don't buy the majority opinion's business about gay marriage falling under the 14th Amendment. I will reiterate, I am no expert in Constitutional law, but this seems like quite a stretch. 

To a second point, I am Catholic. Before you accuse me of hating gays or of homophobia, or whatever, let me assure you: I don't hate gays. I wish them absolutely no ill will.  I have had many gay friends. But no, I don't find homosexual behavior to be morally acceptable. Moreover, the Church does not teach that homosexual people are bad or evil in any way - the Church teaches that homosexual behavior is wrong, because it is contrary to the natural law. 

As a sidebar, I know there are plenty of Christians who have been hateful toward LGBT people. And I'm sorry for that. It's not right. Hate is not a Christian virtue. I firmly believe that we can all love each other without loving, condoning, or agreeing with each other's behavior. 

And that brings me to the problem I see in this debate. 

There is a difference between being and behavior. 

We shouldn't discriminate against people on the grounds of who they are. Whatever you believe about homosexuality's origins - whether it is innate or learned - and I do not seek to comment on that here - if someone is gay, that does not give anyone grounds to discriminate against them for being gay... Just the same way that we don't (or shouldn't - I realize discrimination is alive and well in many places) discriminate against people based on their race, or gender, or religion, etc. 

However, behavior is different. If we consider someone's behavior to be offensive, or immoral, why should we be forced to condone it? The U.S. doesn't condone murder... Oh wait, actually the U.S. does - thanks, SCOTUS, for Roe v. Wade! And for the death penalty, too! 
But - as a Catholic - I certainly do not condone murder. 

I also believe it's immoral for couples to live together outside of the bonds of marriage. Many of my friends lived with their spouses before marriage. I certainly didn't hate them for it, but I didn't agree with it. And the beauty of America is, I don't have to agree with their behavior. I don't have to condone it. I don't hate my gay friends who are in homosexual relationships - but I do believe that homosexual behavior is immoral, and contrary to the natural law. And as an American, I HAVE THE RIGHT to believe that. And you, if you are pro-gay-marriage, have the right to disagree with me. Neither of us have the right to be hateful to one another if we disagree with each other's views.

All this is to say, judicial activism won yesterday. The states lost. And whether you are gay or straight, conservative or liberal, you lost - because as Americans, we all lost the right to decide on the gay marriage issue as a nation, and ceded that right to nine lawyers (who, as Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissenting opinion, are nowhere near statistically representative of the U.S. demographic).  

And despite the majority opinion's weak assurances to the contrary, religious freedom has certainly lost. Since civil gay marriage is now the law of the land, it is difficult to believe that legal challenges to religious groups who find gay marriage incompatible with their religious convictions, will not follow in droves. They will. We need look no further than Canada for such evidence, as noted in this article from The Federalist. The leap is not too far at all. 

I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks their religious freedom will be protected under this new law is kidding themselves. All we need do is wait for "religious conviction" to become synonymous with "hate speech" - instead of being protected by the First Amendment. Popular culture is basically already there: it is quite apparent that holding a traditional view of marriage, or any kind of traditional Christian belief, is considered by many "progressives" as hateful, bigoted, and only worthy of denigration. Hillary Clinton's recent remark that "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases, have to be changed," with respect to abortion and women's reproductive "rights," is one shining example among many.

And so it begins. Or perhaps more correctly put, so it continues. 
Lord, have mercy on us. 

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