Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Gay Thing: North Carolina Senate Passes Religious Exemption Law for Magistrates on Marriage

Crazy. Mean. Illogical. Desperate. Stupid. Unconstitutional.

All of those things--and more--apply to the law just passed by the North Carolina Senate, and those like it in various stages elsewhere across the country. It is a transparent attempt to discriminate legally, in legal matters that legislators simply don't like. It sets bad precedent, will--if fully enacted--create a plethora of unintended consequences for all citizens, and will stand as an embarrassment years down the line.

Let's start with the basics. More and more, high courts are finding that bans against same-sex couples civilly marrying are unconstitutional. A civil marriage need not and often does not have a religious component. Indeed, the "holy matrimony" part of a civil marriage is completely optional. Setting aside the fact that there are religions and religious denominations that do recognize same-sex marriage, religion--as it pertains to civil marriage--is irrelevant. Interfaith couples may legally marry, atheists and agnostics may legally marry. Beyond that, all manner of what many religious people consider "sinners" may legally marry, from 2nd and 3rd marriages, to open marriages, to convicted convicts marrying. I list these things not to compare them, merely to point out that magistrates (and other authorized state officials) have seldom expressed objection to granting these people marriage licenses.

Barronelle Stutzman, the florist who won't do
gay weddings. Because: Jesus. Image from
Until now. For some reason that no religious fundamentalist has adequately explained to me, two things: a) homosexuality and b) abortion are the primary causes of concern for many conservative Christians. Jesus never mentioned either subject of course, and actual Biblical concern with them is quite scant compared to say, adultery, inhospitality and man's inhumanity to man. But for whatever reason, The Gay makes either #1 or #2 on these folks' list of religious concerns. Fine.

It's still irrelevant. Civil same-sex marriages are not being forced upon any church. They're not being performed in the name of these unaccepting churches' Gods. A minister, priest, rabbi, reverend or pastor is not required--unless he/she is working as an employee of a civil authority--to perform a same-sex marriage. Moreover, a civil marriage is a civil contract, and should be no more objectionable to a "magistrate" than should a building permit or business license. The religion of the magistrate, or that of the marriage participants is utterly beside the point. There is no religious test for civil office, and there is no religious test for civil marriage.

The case for "sincere religious belief" being an impediment to these people is rather thwarted by their silence lo these decades past, where surely each and every one has issued licenses to people who do not follow the magistrate's faith (and why on earth should they have to, anyway?). It is extremely telling, and plainly obvious what's going on here. It's bigotry wrapped in religion. Naked animus presented as "faith." The magistrate is not sanctifying, blessing or celebrating a "holy matrimony," they're registering a civil contract.

The couple who won't sell cake to gay people.
Again, Jesus. Image from Back to
All of this "sincere belief exemption" stuff gets even more shaky when it comes down to wedding vendors. This group (traditionally stuffed with gay professionals, oddly enough) has seemingly and suddenly become a very sanctimonious, religiously delicate bunch. Though they rarely if ever point to what part of their religion commands that "though shalt not sell thine product or service to the gays," it has become their chief concern of late. They're willing to make a public case of it, get hit with fines and citations, potentially lose their business, and then tour the conservative speechifying circuit over the issue. Over someone else's celebration. Never before have I heard that a customer must follow a vendor's religious beliefs in order to be allowed to purchase their product or service. Never before was selling a cake, or flowers, or renting out tuxedoes considered participation in, endorsement of and celebration of an event.

The reason we never heard this storm before is because it's disingenuous. As I stated at the top, it's a desperate attempt to fight a lost cause by other means. It stinks to high heaven (heh) of animus and rancor. And it's so short sighted, it almost can't be believed. Because for all of the previous faux panic over "Sharia Law," many of these legislators and their supporters are quite happy stirring some religion into state, so long as it's their brand of religion. What they're not considering is that religious exemptions here will open the floodgates for a) Non-Christian religions small and large demanding exemptions to b) all kinds of laws and regulations.

Before you accuse me of presenting a slippery slope fallacy with that last bit, please tell me: what would limit this precedent to Christians? And what would limit it to wedding industry vendors?


NC Senate passes a lawless law on same-sex marriage

Despite North Carolina's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, marriages are proceeding because federal courts have ruled such bans in other states are unconstitutional. In a few months, the U.S. Supreme court will resolve the matter. But some North Carolina Republicans refuse to apply common sense and want to keep fighting for the ban in court. And now, thanks to a push from Phil Berger, the Eden Republican and president pro tem of the state Senate, more anti-gay marriage foolishness is afoot. . .

Read more at: NewsObserver

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