Thursday, June 23, 2011

At the wire in New York. Whose religious liberty?

The marriage equality bill in New York right now is stuck in GOP conference while they debate bringing it to the floor. The GOP is the majority party. The bill needs 32 votes, and some of them will have to come from the Republicans.

NOM, the Catholic Church and other opponents of equality are trying to prevent the bill from even being voted on. The Republican caucus is in a bad place, though, because polls show New Yorkers favor equality, and the equality advocates have made it clear that the Republicans will pay electorally if they refuse the vote.

As Paul Schindler writes
,I have to reflect on an emotion I’ve experienced separate from anxiety and anticipation. Namely, irritation….the larger measure of my frustration comes from the unpalatable experience of sitting and waiting day in and day out while a nearly opaque political dance unfolds that is, in fact, a referendum on my dignity as a citizen. The fact that my equality –– which according to core American values is God-given or, in more secular terms, mine by right of birth, should be in the hands of elected officials who show such cavalier disregard for basic notions of fair play and equal treatment is a truth I will never be able to accommodate myself to.
The big fear that the opponents play on is "religious liberty". They want the right to use YOUR dollars to discriminate against YOU. The idea that a pair of flouncing gay men in feather boas will waltz into a Catholic church and demand to be married! Oh, the horror! But the whole concept is ludicrous, a red herring.

The FACT is that clergy of whatever denomination have total discretion in who they marry. It's why Roman Catholics who are divorced cannot sue Monsignor for a church wedding. It's why the orthodox Rabbi can decline to marry a mixed faith couple. It's why the Imam can refuse marriage to a couple not of his congregation.

THERE IS NO WAY a gay couple could FORCE a church to marry them. What this is, is simply a fear tactic, crude but surprisingly effective, to scare little old blue hairs into thinking that Teh Gayz are going to march into their church and have orgies in the aisle.


BUT if churches and religions are given such wide latitude to define Who's in and Who's Out, shouldn't they be happy to keep that wall of separation?

You see, the issue isn't being forced to marry the homos. The issue is trying to keep their hands in the cookie jar of Federal largesse while actively discriminating against fellow citizens. You don't get it both ways. (More details on this from jarred's blog here.)

And it's very lucrative for religious groups to receive money to do things like adoption, etc. But it insupportable that they should be given the RIGHT to discriminate in the civil sphere. Discriminate all you like within the walls of your church/temple/synagogue. But in the public square, all citizens are equal.

Susan Brooks Thistlewaite writes:
The 'pre-emptive' discrimination against gay families on the part of Catholic Charities shows why a "wall of separation" (Jefferson) between church and state was, and remains, such a good idea. Indeed, it would be a big mistake to "exempt" religious organizations that receive government funding and allow them to discriminate against some Americans because of their religious beliefs. Just stop giving taxpayer dollars to religious organizations for them to distribute. That will solve the problem. If we keep church and state separate, these issues do not arise….

Jesus said basically the same thing when he advised, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's..." It's good advice. Caesar's money, Caesar's rules.
So let's be clear. The only religious freedom being impinged in New York or anywhere, is the freedom of supportive congregations to legally marry gay members.

(Cross posted at Friends of Jake)


JCF said...

The haters aren't afraid of being "forced" to do ANYTHING.

They're afraid of being disliked. Disrespected. Disagreed with. Looked down on. if ANY of those things are their freakin' BIRTHRIGHTS!!!! >:-(

No, Archbishop Dolan, Senator Diaz, et al: respect, agreement, being liked---you have to EARN those things.

And right now, you're doing ANYTHING *but*!

Jarred said...

Don't forget the lies about religious organizations being "forced to close down adoption services." An EDGE article mentioned that they're talking about "religious protections" for that issue, too. I blogged about that, too.

I'm totally on board with you. It's more religious fearmongering and anti-gay nonsense.