Marvin Olasky this morning:

Was AP coverage [of the New York gay marriage vote] improved by its follow-up report at 9:03 a.m., which stuck on—like a fig leaf—brief sentences by opponents of same-sex marriage? (Maybe someone remembered AP’s ethics code.) Not really, because the story did not even mention the past few days of State Senate negotiations concerning what will become the new battle in New York: What happens to the religious freedom of those who want to uphold biblical standards concerning marriage?

Al Mohler, on Twitter last night:

Also note how many NY senators were willing to sacrifice marriage with flimsy promises of religious liberty protections. Watch carefully.

The New York Times today:

Language that Republican senators inserted into the bill legalizing same-sex marriage provided more expansive protections for religious organizations and helped pull the legislation over the finish line Friday night.

The Republicans who insisted on the provision did not only want religious organizations and affiliated groups to be protected from lawsuits if they refused to provide their buildings or services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, they also wanted them to be spared any penalties by state government. That would mean, for example, a church that declined to accommodate same-sex weddings could not be penalized later with the loss of state aid for the social service programs it administers.

Such language is not unheard of; New Hampshire, which also approved a same-sex marriage bill, included similar protections.

The answer to the question—”what happens to the religious freedom of those who want to uphold biblical standards”—is answered in the text of the bill that passed last night: absolutely nothing.

About The Author

David Sessions

David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol, and is currently a doctoral student in modern European history at Boston College. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Jacobin, Slate and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter here.

0 Responses to The Disconnect

  1. Chuck says:

    The protections in the state law mean very little if the activity is outside of the actual church building. Any lawsuit that would be filed would be a federal one under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the state provisions would mean nothing.

  2. Matt S. says:

    This is one of those moments where I not only disagree with certain people (Olasky and Mohler) but don’t seem to exist in the same cognitive and moral universe as they do.

    This is the problem with identity politics, which conservatism most certainly has degenerated into — whatever the actual protections for religious freedom in the bill, they are not to be believed because The Gays and anti-Christian socialist left-wing radical progressives were behind the legislation. Facts cease to matter, and all that is left is a primordial affinity for people “like me.” Things become true or false based on who says them rather than their relationship to reality.

    Of course, its also worth noting that “religious freedom” for someone like Mohler really means having things be as he says they should be. Its not enough for him to be left alone; public policy must actively affirm his views. For the world to be safe for Al Mohler, for him to be really free, it must be made over in his own image. There’s no sense with these people that religious freedom mainly is a negative right — to not be interfered with as you go about worshiping God how you think best. I don’t believe in a sanitized, totally “neutral” public sphere, but there has to be some sense that in a pluralistic liberal democracy public policy cannot be completely the expression of the beliefs of a particular religious faction.

  3. Dusty says:

    Mohler and Olasky are evangelical Christians before they are conservatives. Their stance on the gay marriage issue is a Biblical one. Mohler doesn’t want things “his” way, but God’s (as clearly articulated in His Holy Scriptures) way.

    It is entirely legitimate to worry about any law that legally puts gay marriage on the same footing as traditional marriage. Everywhere else in the world that gay marriage is allowed, litigation has been brought against clergy for not marrying gays and lesbians, or for preaching against homosexuality from the pulpit.

    It doesn’t seem paranoid to think it could happen here, in the most litigious society in human history.

    I don’t mean to pick a fight at all, just wanted to throw another perspective in here. Thanks for the interesting post.

    • M says:

      Living in Canada, where gay marriage has been here for six years, I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been any litigation against clergy, or it would have made big news. In fact, the Supreme Court here made it explicit that freedom of religion meant it was unlikely that religious institutions could be compelled to perform such marriages.

  4. Mark Perkins says:

    Perhaps, M, it’s simply that the cases have been thrown out. I don’t know the particulars of Canadian litigation, but I feel certain that someone will eventually sue someone in New York for not performing a gay marriage at some point. Given the Times’ blurb quoted, it probably won’t be a big deal and will probably be thrown out before it can make news, but Dusty’s at least right in that someone will sue someone. Americans do not tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to bringing suit.

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