The idea that democratic actions — referendums and legislative maneuvers — motivated by religious convictions are marks of bad law is in danger of infecting society. It has probably graced the lips of every same-sex marriage advocate: Your religious views are your business, but they don’t belong in law that I have to abide by.
Wednesday, Alison Arngrim told me via Twitter: “Any religion may prohibit for it’s [sic] members anything it wants. But non-members are not obligated to agree or abide by it.”
Sure, in the sense that a religious institution’s beliefs don’t dictate the actions of other religious or non-religious sects. But why is law, motivated by religious fervor, automatically dubbed unconstitutional? Or worse, hateful?
If it’s wrong for one to vote against same-sex marriage because they feel their religion requires them to, is it okay for another to vote against it for non-religious reasons? I know atheists who ardently oppose abortion. Is their concern viable, but not mine?
Incidentally, I was also told: “Those with religious dietary restrictions may eat as they please. But I can still legally buy bacon at the supermarket.” So a legal restriction of pork motivated by enthusiastic Jewish voters is wrong, but Mayor Bloomberg’s obsession with your weight fully justifies a ban on salts and saturated fats. Dandy.
Our government, like all democracies, accommodates the moral views of the people in its laws. What motivates that moral outlook should be irrelevant. In the case of the Defense of Marriage Act controversy, if there is an equal protection issue, let it be resolved. But let’s not entertain this ridiculous attitude that uses “hate” and “unlawful” as synonyms for religious conviction.
It doesn’t help when the highest Court embraces a similar idea. Same-sex marriage advocates can now find their fodder in places like Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in United States v. Windsor.
The Court’s lengthy opinion regarding the constitutionality of DOMA reads like a hit piece on the law’s supporters. We’re told in the Court’s holding, “the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does.” Further, that DOMA came about out of a “bare … desire to harm” homosexuals.
In his inevitably biting dissent, Justice Scalia lambastes “the Court’s conclusion that only those with hateful hearts could have voted ‘aye’ on this Act.”
Love it or hate it, DOMA’s purpose was to help determine how the federal government would recognize marriages (marriage being a function of the states, but married people requiring federal benefits). As Justice Scalia notes, it prevented state law from “automatically [altering] the basic operation of federal law, unless and until Congress made the further judgment to do so on its own.” This might be a new concept to readers of the majority opinion who read that DOMA’s purpose was to “impose inequality” and “a stigma” upon homosexuals, which would “humiliate” their children.
This isn’t a challenge to a concern over equal protection, only to the presumptuous nature and rhetoric of same-sex marriage proponents, and the incautious remarks of judges that now fuel them.
After all, in the stinging words of Justice Scalia: “It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.”