I have an important public service announcement for everyone who changed their Facebook and other profile photos to a rainbow recently. Absent some massive desire for more color in your life, you probably did this to celebrate the United States Supreme Court magically creating a constitutional “right” to a marriage license for gay people. Didn’t you?
I suppose you think this makes you quite tolerant, and forward thinking, but it doesn’t. I imagine you think you’re advancing freedom, but you’re not. You probably feel really good about yourself for helping gay people gain acceptance in society, but that’s not even remotely close to what you’re actually doing.
Were the court to strike down marriage licenses as an interference with contracts, I would celebrate with you. Were a legislature to repeal all laws pertaining to marriage, I would join your parade. Despite what these despots would have you believe, an opposition to government involving itself in more people’s sex lives is not an indicator that one hates gay people. I am entirely uninterested in the sex lives of complete strangers, and I think the government should hold the same position. Any person or group should be able to enter into any contract they see fit, and call it anything they want. Any person or group should be able to do whatever they want sexually without fear of government violence. Were the court to recognize these obvious truths, this would be a cause for celebration, but that’s not what they did.
The court decided that the constitution, despite lacking any language saying so, promises everybody a “right” to a “license” to marry. That statement on its face should set your reason thermometer to absolute zero from the start.
Firstly, a “license” is an indicator that you do not have a “right” to do something. Licenses are a thing government issues, specifically to prevent someone from doing something, until they get government permission to so do. They are, by their very definition, a constriction on rights, a limiter of freedom. To license a thing is to outlaw it, and to then grant one permission to break that law. To say that you are fighting for gay “rights” by seeking to have licenses issued to them, is not just a complete failure to understand rights, it is a complete failure to understand rudimentary English.
Secondly, while I don’t have much use for constitutions these days, if a government is going to exist, it helps if it has some basic rules to follow. Despite the bizarre reasoning the court used to justify its decision, there is nothing in the US constitution which defines, mentions, or guarantees marriages. Absent an amendment, marriage is a thing the Federal Government has no role in whatsoever. So to the extent any government entity is to be involved, it is a matter for state and local governments to handle.
If the Supreme Court has any purpose to interfere with state and local laws, it is to strike down laws which are in contradiction to the constitution. This cannot be said of state marriage laws, since marriage appears nowhere in the constitution. The court has allowed ever greater restrictions on guns, and ever lessening restrictions on searches and seizures, even though striking down such encroachments on freedom would actually expand liberty and suit their purported purpose. So why the sudden concern for the wellbeing of gay people?
The answer is quite simple. To expand federal authority, centralize power, and give the left a win that they would never be able to accomplish through elections. While portrayed as being a lessening of restrictions on gay people, it is an increase in the power of the court and of the federal government, which could just as easily be used to federally ban homosexuality entirely.
Perhaps the most important problem we will now be facing, is the anti-discrimination lawsuits that are soon to follow, and we can expect it to go well beyond cakes, flowers, and wedding halls. What we’re inevitably going to see in the near future, is discrimination suits against churches. Soon, the “right” to “gay marriage” will be pitted against the freedoms of religion and association in court.
Now, plenty of people have addressed this part, and the abhorrent nature of a government forcing a religious institution to do something that is against its faith is almost too obvious to mention. So instead I’m going to take a different angle so often overlooked by gay activists and my fellow atheists. The religious conservative activism that is certain to follow any such challenge. Far from forcing society to accept homosexuality, this is going to compel a backlash which will see more hate and hostilities towards homosexuals than at any time in recent history, and that tension will result in political changes that do not favor gays.
As I mentioned in my piece about Indiana’s “religious freedom” law;
If a restaurant owner today hates gays, do you imagine he will like them more or less after government bureaucrats threaten him with fines and imprisonment? You might well land somebody a job, or get someone a lunch with such a policy, but you’ll certainly not solve the underlying problem of ignorance and irrationality. You have only escalated the conflict from an interpersonal one to a political one.
For a religious man to hate gays because he thinks his god told him to is irrational. For a religious man to hate gays because they are his political rivals and oppressors makes perfect sense, and is more difficult to argue with. The nature of political battles in America being partisan, it represents an even bigger problem. Not only do gays force him to do business with them, but they elect Democrats to do so, and they then raise his taxes, confiscate his weapons, and force other costly regulations down his throat. His religious bias now has real world backing behind it. “The gays did this” is seared into his mind, and he’s not wrong about that.
Far from correcting his behavior and encouraging him to abandon his irrationality, he is given political support from people who don’t much care for his beliefs, but see the government as the bigger problem. He is courted by politicians who feed off of his biases, promising to overturn or repeal the law that is forcing him if elected. He becomes politically active where he might not have been before, and his biases are thus imprinted on the political figures he helps to elect.
Since politicians are democratically elected, and most Americans still identify as members of some religious group, atheists really ought to be careful about stirring religious folks to political action. There is next to nothing left of the constitution these days, and a theocratic government is really just 50.01% of the vote away from becoming a reality in America. The same political process that bans discrimination, could just as easily make homosexuality a capital offense punishable by death. The same goes for heresy, ethnic cleansing, or any number of policies we all like to think we’re beyond these days.
A dignified atheist should reject the irrationality of State power the same way they reject the irrationality of religion, but with the added incentive of opposition to violence.If you think that backlash had potential for disaster when we were talking about bakeries and florists, just you wait and see what happens when it kicks down the doors to the house of worship.