Opinion Pieces


Gay marriage threatens religious freedom and GOP principles March 12, 2014 by Richard Nelson

Last Tuesday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway refused to defend the Commonwealth’s marriage law which put him in good company with fellow Louisvillian and former GOP Chairman Brad Cummings. Cummings recently waved the white flag of surrender and called on the Kentucky GOP to abandon its defense of man/woman marriage.

A teary-eyed Conway said if he appealed the ruling that he “would be defending discrimination.” Discriminating minds might wonder how Mr. Conway defines discrimination. Literalists may equally ponder why he defended the law for five months in federal court if he really felt this way.  But what politician-aspiring-to-be-governor ever let consistency get in the way when he can default to decrying the woes of discrimination—a once useful term when synonymous with bigotry during the black struggle for civil rights? The term has been handily retooled today and attached to anyone who makes a moral judgment, especially regarding judgments of human sexual behavior. 

To say that redefining marriage doesn’t affect anyone else’s marriage is inaccurate. How human beings order themselves in the most intimate of ways and government recognition of such has everything to do with the success or demise of their civilization.

Marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher put it bluntly: “sex makes babies, society needs babies, and babies need mothers and fathers.”  Sometimes the obvious must be restated. Revisionist marriage, while at odds with nature, is also at odds with society itself as it is inherently incapable of producing the great public good produced by heterosexual marriage.

The critical public task of marriage Gallagher says is “to regulate the sexual relationships between men and women in order to reduce the likelihood that children (and their mothers and society) will face the burdens of fatherlessness, and increase the likelihood that there will be a next generation that will be raised by their mothers and fathers in one family where both parents are committed to each other and to their children.”

What? Is this woman from Mayberry? Before you can say “awe shucks Aunt Bea it’s the 21st century, get over it,” marriage revisionists will pull the race and bigotry cards from their stacked deck of moral relativism and say that denying “marriage equality” is akin to refusing service to blacks at a lunch counter.  Problem is that we are not talking about race. Nor are we talking about restaurant service. We are talking about a covenant that Christians, Jews and Muslims believe a sacrament that God ordained. We’re also talking about an institution that many in the non-religious community recognize as irreplaceably different from all other relationships. Stating that some relationships are different isn’t an act of bigotry.

Male and female relationships are bound with a potency that other relationships lack. But the ground has shifted. Now the question is: should people of faith be forced to violate their conscience by materially participating in an act they believe sacrilegious? 

Redefining marriage is incompatible with religious freedom—the ability to live in society according to one’s moral convictions. We all want tolerance, but when tolerance means that a baker will face jail time, as did Jack Phillips who owns Masterpiece Cake shop in Colorado, for failing to lend his talent and trade to an activity he believes is sinful, then modern notions of tolerance need to be redefined.

The Republican Party should be inclusive. In fact, Americans have an inherent inclination toward inclusivity. We’re a melting pot after all. But when inclusiveness defines down an irreplaceable human relationship to the realm of “whatever” then it is time to revisit the meaning of inclusiveness.

Christians like Reverend Louie Giglio and gospel singer Donnie McClurkin experienced how a relativistic, hyper-sensitive culture defines inclusiveness when they were both disinvited from participating in major political events last year (Obama’s inauguration and MLK commemoration). Their transgression? Each simply said that homosexuality is a sin—years ago. Clearly the Unforgivable Sin.

Interestingly, protecting marriage was a plank in the GOP’s original 1856 platform; “it is […] the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism--polygamy, and slavery.”  Polygamy was practiced in the Utah territory and the party dedicated to preserving human rights insisted that polygamy should be outlawed. Kentucky Republicans should uphold the dignity and respect of homosexuals as made in the image of God just as they fought for civil rights for blacks 158 years ago. They should equally reject marital norms outside one man and one woman just as they did in the beginning. Should the Republican Party stray from founding principles, it will likely find itself in the company of the Whig Party—a sorry footnote in political history.

Note: This first appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal on March 13, 2014.



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