The problem with the gay marriage debate is the insistence to have it on just two grounds. You’re either for gay marriage or against it. There’s no so-called “Option 3” discussion where both sides have a chance to be partially satisfied. This involves getting the government 100% out of marriage. It’s something Ed Morrissey and Jazz Shaw have both advocated here at Hot Air and they’re right. Marriage should be privatized.
Ed’s 2012 piece discussing his “Yes” vote on the Minnesota marriage ballot initiative is worth a re-read because he really provides a powerful argument into why marriage privatization should happen, especially to protect churches (emphasis mine):
Right now, churches act as agents of the state in conducting weddings. For those who think that a change in definition would not inevitably lead to mandates on churches to “not discriminate” in conducting ceremonies for those relationships which violate their religious doctrines hasn’t been paying attention to the HHS mandate. In that case, the federal government will force religious organizations (schools, charities, health-care providers) to violate their doctrines by facilitating access to contraception and sterilization, and that’s without the added lever of acting in stead of the state, as churches do when officiating at weddings. Instead of leaving marriage to the churches, a change in definition will give the state a powerful way to either force churches to perform weddings that violate their belief systems or stop performing them altogether.
Edi isn’t the only one to have this fear. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash echoed Ed on Facebook over the gay marriage ruling:
Those who care about liberty should not be satisfied with the current situation. Government intervention in marriage presents new threats to religious freedom and provides no advantages, for gay or straight couples, over unlicensed (i.e., traditional) marriage. But we shouldn’t blame the Supreme Court for where things stand.
It’s not just “straight, white Republican men” who feel this way. Meredith Ancret is a conservative who is also a lesbian. From her blog:
My main fear with this case was that it might be used as legal precedent to violate the 1st amendment and force religious institutions/leaders to host/perform gay marriages.
Though it may of course spawn legal challenges, I don’t believe it sets up precedent to force religious leaders to be involved in solemnizing any marriage they do not wish to be involved in.
The biggest problem is how emotional the debate has become. Facebook is full of people with rainbow-colored avatars, while other supporters talk about the “buzz” they’re feeling because of the Supreme Court’s decision. Opponents say Friday’s decision shows the Supreme Court is undermining their legitimacy. Rod Dreher has a Time article where he writes the sky isn’t falling, but it’s basically falling (emphasis mine):
One can certainly understand the joy that LGBT Americans and their supporters feel today. But orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. And we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities.
He’s right and wrong on this part. There is some discrimination against religious groups at Cal State because of the university’s stupid so-called “non discrimination” rules. But it’s doubtful Christian families are going to have to change the way their faith is practiced or how it’s taught to their children. There’s nothing wrong with being vigilant, but Dreher’s hyperbole needs to be dialed back a notch:
Obergefell is a sign of the times, for those with eyes to see. This isn’t the view of wild-eyed prophets wearing animal skins and shouting in the desert. It is the view of four Supreme Court justices, in effect declaring from the bench the decline and fall of the traditional American social, political, and legal order.
This is why the marriage privatization debate needs to be considered on the right. By untangling the messy connection between the church and state on marriage, it can actually protect the rights of churches. The good news is marriage privatization is already starting to make headway in some Republican-controlled states. The Oklahoma House and the Alabama Senate both passed bills privatizing marriage. Alabama Senator Greg Albritton explained Senate Bill 377 pretty well during debate:
“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties…Go back long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”
His bill passed with both bipartisan support and opposition. It’s anyone’s guess whether the legislation will get anywhere in the Alabama House. But this is why the debate is necessary and why marriage privatization should be considered and advocated. It can protect religious liberties far better than any other piece of legislation. The gay marriage debate has been wrong from the beginning. Hopefully it will now start to right itself and marriage privatization becomes more of a reality.