Lately everyone is up in arms about the handful of elected officials (country clerks and judges and the like) who have decided to defy the recent SCOTUS ruling by refusing to do any aspect of their jobs that involves licensing or marrying same-sex couples, based solely upon their own personal religious objections. Huh. I guess it’s only okay to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution when one does so by invoking the First Amendment of the Constitution to do so. Wait, what?
That way lies madness. That road leads straight to “let me tell you why the Constitution protects only MY RIGHTS and why I’ve decided it doesn’t actually apply to anyone else unless I say so” territory. There’s a whole year of blog articles right there waiting to be written on THAT position and the ridiculous hypocrites who so gleefully espouse it.
But to be honest, my FAVORITE moment from the actual SCOTUS case came at the very beginning, last April, when— right out of the chute— conservative Chief Justice Roberts started the proceedings by asking gay rights lawyer Mary Bonauto why she believed that the SCOTUS should “force churches and religious leaders to preside over a homosexual wedding that, when taken as a whole, would offend their moral conscience.”
Everything stopped cold and everybody looked at him like he was a complete idiot, then a shocked Bonauto offered a short explanation on the Constitutional separation of church and state.
Then the other Conservative judges LITERALLY huddled up and gave Roberts a talking-to about how they weren’t allowed to bring religion into it as a matter of Constitutional law. Which, apparently, Roberts didn’t know or correctly understand.
That’s OUR CHIEF JUSTICE of the SUPREME COURT. And he didn’t understand the first and foremost fact of the case— that the Federal government’s establishment of marriage has absolutely NO religious quotient to it at all. It’s SECULAR CONTRACT LAW.
You don’t need a priest or pastor or reverend or church or any of that to be married in the eyes of the law; just a Justice of the Peace, a witness, and a signed document.
FURTHERMORE, if you DO get married in a church, the government doesn’t legally acknowledge it UNLESS you have the legal (secular) document to go with it.
So, to recap:
Go to courthouse, have witness, sign document in front of Clerk or Justice= married.
Go to church, burn candles, exchange rings, say vows, kiss the bride in front of priest or pastor or whatever, get pronounced “man and wife”= NOT MARRIED. Not without the other stuff.
All the new ruling covers is the courthouse stuff, NOT the church stuff. Separation of church and state. The SAME principle of law that says the feds can’t force Hobby Lobby to buy insurance that pays for abortions “on religious grounds” prevents the feds from forcing church workers to perform religious marriage ceremonies that would violate their own religious morals.
But that same principle of law ALSO means that same-sex couples can now skip the church, shoot the middle finger at any religious doctrine opposed to such a union, and go straight to the courthouse and be officially married and receive all the legal rights that go with it.
Chief Justice Roberts apparently didn’t KNOW that “religious objections” could not be used as a point of contention in the recent SCOTUS case. But he did seem fully aware that, when it came time to vote, if no argument could be made based on “religious objections” then there is NO real case to be made against same-sex marriage. That’s seriously the only real obstacle blocking it. And it can’t be used in Federal court.
Because separation of church and state. Same as Hobby Lobby.
The only OTHER argument to be made, which was made by Scalia, is “the SCOTUS can’t make this decision when the majority of the citizenry might disagree with our ruling if put to a national vote.”
Which is ridiculous. What was being defined is a RIGHT. Those are included in the Constitution so they don’t HAVE to be voted on. Specifically to prevent a majority from voting to take those rights away from a minority they don’t like. That’s why we HAVE a Supreme Court— to interpret how best to implement the law in regard to the Constitution, and how it must be objectively judged. Scalia LOVES to wield that judicial power for his rich corporate constituents. He only whines about “the SCOTUS playing God” when he doesn’t get his way.
The Federal government can’t force any employee of any church to perform any ceremony to which they religiously object. The Federal government CAN fire or remove a FEDERAL EMPLOYEE for refusing to perform his or her job requirements on religious grounds, though. The government isn’t required to keep paying anyone to do a job they refuse to do, for whatever personal reason. The government can also penalize anyone who attempts to prevent other citizens from taking full advantage of their own Constitutional rights as citizens, and can enforce legal rulings against those who do so.
Can regular church officials or preachers or whatever be punished for practicing their religion however they want (provided it doesn’t violate civil law)? Nope. Though any of those people might be liable to a lawsuit if it is clear they are discriminating against homosexual people in their non-church, non-religiously-protected business.
Meanwhile, the longer this goes on the more blatantly obvious it is that many who would innocently bat their eyes while claiming to champion “religious freedom” are actually only interested in championing their OWN RELIGION at the expense of all others. But that is expressly forbidden according to Constitutional law. Thank you, James Madison, for so eloquently explaining what you meant when you wrote the words “freedom of religion” in the Bill of Rights, thus:
“Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observance of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform.”
—James Madison, Annals of Congress, Sat Aug 15th, 1789 pages 730 – 731. Link.