Reality always triumphs over ideology. When homosexual marriage proponents try to tell you that churches, faith-based institutions, and religious individuals of all stripes will not be impacted by the redefinition of marriage, they are telling you porkies – and they know it.
One simply has to look at places that have redefined and thus trashed marriage – churches and believers are being trashed as well, as I have documented for years now. We already have hundreds of cases of this happening right now, and it gets worse each passing day.
Let me look at just a few more recent examples of this, then look again at how precarious things are in Australia. Let’s begin with Sweden which legalised homosexual marriage in 2009. Just recently the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven said this:
“We Social Democrats are working to ensure all priests will consecrate everyone, including same-sex couples… I see parallels to the midwife who refuses to perform abortions. If you work as a midwife you must be able to perform abortions, otherwise you have to do something else… It is the same for priests.”
In Ireland homosexual marriage was legalised in 2015. Assurances were given that no one would be adversely impacted by this, and that religious bodies would be just fine. But within months of the law change this took place:
The Irish Parliament has passed a bill forcing publicly-funded Catholic institutions, including schools, to employ open homosexuals. The bill, which extends the ban on discrimination in the “equality law” to religiously-based institutions, affects the 90 percent of the country’s schools that belong to the Catholic Church. While homosexual groups and media pundits hail the new law, defenders of the Catholic schools and teachings say the law is unconstitutional.
And consider this stark remark made by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow in the UK. Speaking to a homosexual audience he said this:
“We don’t want to behave like it’s all over, everything’s been done and nothing remains, because that isn’t true. I still feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right.”
Always nice when the other side spills the beans. But such talk is common of course from the homosexual camp. They have long insisted that churches and religious bodies should not be granted any exemptions. In my 2011 book Strained Relations I quoted American legal expert Roger Severino on all this:
The legal definition of marriage does not exist in isolation; changing it alters many areas of the law. For example, the definition of marriage plays an important role in the law of adoption, education, employee benefits, health care, employment discrimination, government contracts and subsidies, taxation, tort law, and trusts and estates. In turn, these legal regimes directly govern the ongoing daily operations of religious organizations of all stripes, including parishes, schools, temples, hospitals, orphanages, retreat centers, soup kitchens, and universities. Moreover, current law provides no room for non-uniform definitions of marriage within a state, it is all or nothing….
Changes in marriage law impact religious institutions disproportionately because their role is so deeply intertwined with the public concept of marriage. . . . The specific consequences that will likely flow from legalizing same-sex marriage include both government compulsion of religious institutions to provide financial or other support for same-sex married couples and government withdrawal of public benefits from those institutions that oppose same-sex marriage. In other words, wherever religious institutions provide preferential treatment to husband-wife couples, state laws will likely require them to either extend identical benefits to same-sex married couples or withdraw the benefits altogether.
Exactly. And homosexual activists in Australia know full well that this must be the endgame: no religious protections whatsoever. Consider a recent survey of over 6000 homosexual Australians taken on this issue by a leading homosexual advocacy group. As one report puts it:
The survey, funded by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in partnership with just.equal, showed sky-high opposition among LGBTI Australians to refusal-of-service exemptions targeted exclusively at same-sex couples, whether applied to civil celebrants, private businesses, or employees at a government marriage registry.
Targeted same-sex couple exemptions for religious celebrants – which would be on top of an existing provision stating religious ministers do not have to marry any couple – were opposed by 60% of respondents….
92.6% of respondents opposed exemptions for civil celebrants to wed same-sex couples based on conscientious or religious belief. This dropped slightly to 91.2% when asked if they would accept a civil celebrant exemption in order to achieve same-sex marriage.
Indeed, back in 2012 there was a federal inquiry into anti-discrimination legislation. Back then one pro-homosexual group after another told us what they think of religious exemptions. Here are just some of them that I quoted at the time:
-Legal Aid Queensland: “… argues for the removal of those (i.e., religious) exemptions”.
-Legal Aid NSW: “… does not support the retention of any exemption on religious grounds”.
-Public Interest Law Clearing House (Vic) Inc: “The Consolidated Law should include no exemptions for religious organisations in relation to the protected attributes of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
-Discrimination Law Experts Group: “We recommend that the religious exceptions be repealed.”
-ANU College of Law “Equality Project”: It “rejects permanent exemptions on religious grounds for institutions or individuals”.
-Human Rights Law Centre: “These exemptions are manifestly inappropriate and inconsistent with Australia’s human rights obligations and international best-practice.”
-HIV/AIDS Legal Centre: “Remove entirely any religious exemption to discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
There are plenty more such quotes that could be offered here. So much for religious freedom. The same militants calling for the destruction of marriage have made it clear that they want the destruction of religion as well. Mark my words, there can be no compromise here – the other side will not allow it.
Let me finish with some wise words from Princeton University’s McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George. He highlights the folly of thinking that somehow compromise can be achieved here:
The fundamental error made by some supporters of conjugal marriage was and is, I believe, to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any type. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.” There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted.
Perhaps parts of such a bargain would be accepted by liberal forces temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined; but guarantees of religious liberty and non-discrimination for people who cannot in conscience accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed. After all, “full equality” requires that no quarter be given to the “bigots” who want to engage in “discrimination” (people with a “separate but equal” mindset) in the name of their retrograde religious beliefs. “Dignitarian” harm must be opposed as resolutely as more palpable forms of harm….
The lesson, it seems to me, for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds.
All over the West these sorts of laws are being used, and they are all rather sneaky. They will speak about “exemptions” for religious bodies, but then define what that means so narrowly that basically no one is safe. Thus a Sunday school class may fall afoul of the law. A Bible study held in a home, conducted by the pastor, might not be safe. And plenty of other religious bodies (schools, bookstores, etc) will not be safe. So what we have here is a war on religion.
In sum, homosexual marriage changes everything, and religious bodies are among the biggest losers. It is never wise to let the State determine what religious bodies can and cannot do here. Remember, when the State arbitrarily decides that religious groups can be granted certain exemption “rights,” it can just as easily take them away.
You have been warned.