Since yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, there has been a lot of concern from people of faith about whether or not they’ll be forced to marry a homosexual. No, that is not a grammatical error. If we look at the reactions all over social media it would seem that we’re heading for a disaster of biblical proportions and one is left to assume that that not only includes dogs and cats living together, but that we will now be forced to find a same-sex partner and consummate our marriage. But that’s not the case. Not even close. So let’s all take a deep breath and look at the facts.
First up, now that same-sex marriage (after today I will only refer to it as marriage) is legal in all 50 states the only political issues that are still up for debate are: “gay adoption, the tax-exempt status of religious organizations that wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; and the obligation of private churches and individuals to recognize and perform same-sex marriages” according to Emma Green of the Atlantic.
A couple of weeks ago, Michigan legislature passed a trio of bills that would allow publicly funded adoption agencies to refuse placing children with same-sex parents based on religious grounds. There is concern now that these agencies may lose their public funding if they continue to uphold such policies, as well they should. Many proponents of individual freedom have argued that the states use of taxes to punish and reinforce cultural norms is a form of tyrannical coercion. If that is the case then these agencies that wish to express their religious freedom should willfully unburden themselves of the state’s influence; otherwise, if they wish to continue receiving public fund in the form of tax revenues they should serve the entire public equally. The price for individual freedom means more than saluting our nation’s flag and sending our children to war. That goes for any religious organization receiving tax dollars.
The question of tax-exempt status for religious organizations that wish to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation came up during oral arguments in the Supreme Court case of Obergefll v Hodges. Emma Green again writes: “Alito raised a 1983 case involving the evangelical Christian Bob Jones University, which had refused to allow interracial dating on its campus. The Court ruled that the school could not be tax exempt if it maintained its ban; the university accepted the consequences, not changing its policy until 2000.” Let’s be clear, Bob Jones University chose to discriminate against interracial couples rather than be tax exempt. They did that shit for 17 years! They chose to exercise their religious freedom until it was no longer financially advantageous. Therefore, it seems rather obvious what the impact of Friday’s decision will mean for other churches: “You can be bigots as long as it’s affordable.” And as we have seen in the past, bigotry can be profitable… for a limited time.
Which brings us to our final, and seemingly most vital issue: Will churches have to perform same-sex marriages against their will? No.
Really, it is that simple.
According to USAToday, “[F]or clergy in most faiths, the Supreme Court’s decision throwing out civil bans on gay marriage doesn’t change anything. They either already were allowed to officiate at wedding of gays and lesbians – or still are prohibited from doing so.” The church had nothing to do with my different-sex, heterosexual marriage. In fact, it was ordained by my Lesbian sister. This ruling will not allow Gays, Lesbians, Bi-Sexuals and Transgenders to kick in the church doors and force the clergy to perform a wedding ceremony. It will, however, allow all of us to go to the city courthouse and get a marriage license so that we all enjoy the same rights of a contractual union between two willing parties. And should polygamy every make the mainstream, then we can debate if those relationships have the same rights as corporations – being people and all.
So relax, bigots. The people that are unwanted in your lives have gotten the message. No need to beat it over their heads like a Truth campaign. They won’t have their weddings in your churches and they won’t be offended if you don’t send them a gift. Apocalypse averted.