On November 29, the US Senate passed the Marriage Equality bill by a vote of 61-36, putting same sex marriage on the same plane as traditional marriage. Through almost all of civilization, marriage and family was recognized as the foundation of society. Doing what feels good, placing no limits whatsoever on sexual behavior, and not worrying about the nation’s future and our children’s inheritance has become the basis of our newly “enlightened” society. My generation has failed to defend and pass on our values.
The Senate needed 60 votes to avoid a filibuster on Marriage Equality. Retiring Republicans, like Rob Portman and Richard Burr took the difficult vote, so other Republicans can avoid voters’ ire in two years. Republicans wonder why they didn’t perform better in the last election; now, they are hoping voters forget the party’s actions when the next “most important election of our lifetime” comes around. Stand up for principles and voters will support you; they will not always support you because you are slightly better than the other party. Neither party is worth supporting in this instance (or in far too many other instances, unfortunately).
The U.S. House passed the Marriage Equality bill earlier by a vote of 267-157, 47 Republicans joining all House Democrats in favor. Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine who sponsored this bill defended it this way:
“The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that all married couples—including same-sex and interracial couples—are entitled to the rights and responsibilities of marriage, regardless of the state in which they live,” said Senator Collins. “Let us remember that we are talking about our family members, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends. I am proud to have stood—and I will continue to stand—with them in the efforts to secure their rights, while also steadfastly protecting and respecting religious liberty.”
Several religious organizations endorsed the bill as well:
The religious freedom protections in Senators Baldwin and Collins’ legislation have been endorsed by a number of religious and legal groups. These include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the AND Campaign, the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, the Center for Public Justice, and the 1st Amendment Partnership.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement on Tuesday, November 15, 2022.
The doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints related to marriage between a man and a woman is well known and will remain unchanged.
We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
We believe this approach is the way forward. As we work together to preserve the principles and practices of religious freedom together with the rights of LGBTQ individuals, much can be accomplished to heal relationships and foster greater understanding.
But what about the concerns of churches that have not endorsed it? What about the voters concerned about the dilution of traditional values? What about the litigation that will force us to accept beliefs contrary to our own?
What is the Real Goal?
The US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stated the problem clearly:
The bill is well-intentioned but ultimately misguided. The Equality Act discriminates against people of faith, threatens unborn life, and undermines the common good.
The ultimate goal is not to protect the rights of same sex couples. This has been the misdirection for twenty years. The bill does far more than affirm the rights of same sex couples.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
There should be no argument at all. There is no imminent threat to same sex couples. They are not under attack by ordinary citizens, by religious organizations, nor by any other mainstream organization. They have the freedom to engage in their preferred lifestyle. This is America and we respect their choices, whether we agree or not. The USCCB noted:
The “LGBT” people are not subject to systemic discrimination on the scale that has historically warranted the creation of a new federal policy, such as was necessary when the Civil Rights Act was passed. Widespread patterns of segregation or denial of basic goods, services, or opportunities to people who identify as “LGBT” are not evident. On the contrary, “LGBT” people today are often held in high regard in the market, as well as the academy, local governments, and media.
The Marriage Equality bill adds protection of inter-racial couples to advance the false narrative that America today is still very much racially biased, something which has not been remotely true for more than fifty years. It is another distraction. If anyone today dared to publicly criticize inter-racial marriage, how quickly would their business would be boycotted and their church would be abandoned? Media would highlight them incessantly. Inter-racial language is a cudgel against political opponents who rightly voted against this bill.
The church, traditional values, and ultimately our religious liberty are what’s truly under attack. Our religious values are frequently and casually targeted by politicians, often with barely anyone noticing. California Senator Diane Feinstein told Judge Amy Coney Barrett “the dogma lives loudly in you”, implying following strong religious beliefs made her unfit to serve in government. Under ObamaCare, the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor were threatened with fines for refusing to pay for contraceptive care, a violation of Catholic doctrine. Colorado baker Jack Phillips has been sued multiple times for refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages; he should be forced to work for those who choose to offend him?
Same sex couples, drag queens, transgenders, sex change and gender fluidity advocates, everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella, have achieved political ascendancy today. However, religious groups remaining true to their principles refuse to affirm such sexual behavior. This affirmation of this sexual behavior is the ONE thing withheld, but the one thing demanded above all else. Otherwise, the LGBTQ are fully accepted by today’s religious communities.
Where is the discrimination of LGBTQ by Americans? Their flag is worn by the US Soccer Team in the World Cup; their agenda is flouted continually by media and the Democrat Party. The LGBTQ cause is pushed incessantly by pop culture; if you don’t solicit gay promoting movies, you are labeled a bigot. Sorry, but your sexual behavior should be not synonymous with your identity.
On Tuesday, June 14, Buzz Lightyear actor Chris Evans slammed concerned parents who don’t want their kids to see homosexuality in Disney’s animated films. “The real truth is, those people are idiots,” Evans told Reuters, attacking critics of the same-sex display.
Religious organizations are asked to deny their fundamental principles or risk being attacked as hateful and bigoted. A few have acceded to the ransom. Years ago, the call was “stay out of our bedroom” (no problem. I’m not interested), then it was “we just want the same rights as traditionally married couples” (Ok. Find a church willing to marry you, but don’t demand it from mine), and today the agenda is to force these new values on our children and to condemn parents, churches, and others who simply notice the change.
Public schools have become the newest battleground. I noticed this educator’s comments, and you should as well. It is not hateful to demand accountability:
Joseph Bruno speaking to an undercover reporter about LGBTQ sex education at the school.
“I had, like, our LGBTQ+ Health Center come in [to the classroom],” Bruno said in the edited video. “They were passing around butt-plugs and dildos to my students – talking about queer sex, using lube versus using spit.”
“They’re just, like, passing around dildos and butt plugs,” he continued. “And we had a drag queen come in to pass out cookies and brownies and do photos.”
Should we really accept such comments? Should we dare to notice? They are not unique, or the most egregious, by any stretch.
It is Not About Hate
Those faiths affirming the new LGBTQ version of sexuality have lost their way and are doomed. Those faiths which remain true to principles, still accept and tolerate those of the LGBTQ community; only affirmation of unbridled and unnatural sexuality is withheld. The fight over this affirmation is the source of all the conflict.
My faith’s religious text instructs: “those without sin cast the first stone”; we are also told to “love our enemies”; we are told “blessed are the peacemakers”. We are reminded often “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Christians are repeatedly instructed, by both the Bible and by their religious leaders (of today and of the past), not to hate nor condemn. Those who claim that Christianity teaches otherwise are either lying or ignorant. Certainly, individual Christians fail to live up to these standards at times, but hate and bigotry are not tenets of our faith, and are not condoned by the clergy or the overwhelming majority.
Christians are also clearly directed regarding right and wrong. All of us need to hear “no” from time to time. We need limits or we will surely stray to destructive behavior. Parents should provide the limits during our youth and God’s law provides limits later in the life.
Let’s be clear: the Bible does not condone homosexual behavior. Christians who deny homosexuality is a sin are ignoring the faith’s teachings. They are compromising the faith’s principles, something they have no right to water down. Christian teaching is crystal clear:
While they claimed to be wise, in fact they were growing so stupid that they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an imitation, for the image of a mortal human being, or of birds, or animals, or crawling things.
That is why God abandoned them in their inmost cravings to filthy practices of dishonoring their own bodies-because they exchanged God’s truth for a lie and have worshipped and served the creature instead of the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
That is why God abandoned them to degrading passions: why their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural practices; and the men, in a similar fashion, too, giving up normal relations with women, are consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameful things with men and receiving in themselves due reward for their perversion.
In other words, since they would not consent to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to their unacceptable thoughts and indecent behavior. And so now they are steeped in all sorts of injustice, rottenness, greed and malice; full of envy, murder, wrangling, treachery and spite, libelers, slanderers, enemies of God, rude, arrogant and boastful, enterprising in evil, rebellious to parents, without brains, honor, love or pity.
They are well aware of God’s ordinance: that those who behave like this deserve to die — yet they not only do it, but even applaud others who do the same. Romans 1:23-32
These words are not subtle or nuanced. We are not to engage in unnatural sexual practices ourselves and we are not to condone such behavior in others. Many of us speak clearly in this regard, and it is not hatred or bigotry to condemn the sin. We correct our children for lying, cheating, etc., not out of hatred, but out of love. Not to speak clearly with regard to sin is itself problematic.
God also destroyed the first people who engaged in homosexuality. Again, the message is crystal clear:
The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
. . . The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”
. . . Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. Genesis 19: 1-8,12-13,24-25
Yet, Christians are also called to love, accept, and indeed welcome other sinners. We are all sinners. I am no less deserving of God’s condemnation for my own sins than anyone else. This realization should keep me humble. I must be tolerant and respectful of the LGBTQ community, tolerant and respectful of them as human beings, but not accepting or affirming of their sexual behavior. These principles are clearly stated in the Bible and clearly articulated by our Church leaders, from Pope Francis on down. Again, those who tell you otherwise are either ignorant or lying; they, in fact, are the problem.
Protects Religious Liberty?
Supporters of the Marriage Equality Act claim it protects religious liberty, but does it? The bill goes well beyond the protection of same sex marriage. I quote again from the Catholic bishops:
The Equality Act would add the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the definition of “sex” (§ 9), and add “sex” where it is not already present, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (§§ 3-8); government employment statutes (§ 7); the Fair Housing Act (§ 10); the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (§ 11); and jury selection rules (§ 12).
the Equality Act codifies the new ideology of “gender” in federal law, dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting “gender” as only a social construct.
[it] forces religiously operated spaces and establishments, such as church halls, to either host functions that violate their beliefs or close their doors to their communities
Even before this new legislation was passed, Yeshiva University, a Jewish religious institution, was told it must host an LGBTQ club. Religious liberty is protected in this instance?
[it] requires women to compete against men and boys in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower facilities with men and boys
What does sharing locker rooms have to do with marriage equality? Advocates are trying to win a different debate through deceptive means.
(it) forces faith-based charities that serve all people to violate their religious beliefs, and threatens the welfare of thousands of beneficiaries of charitable services such as shelters and foster care agencies, by forcing a multitude of them to be shut down
Catholic charities will not adopt to gay couples. The Church stopped offering adoptions, depriving children and families of much needed help, rather than violate religious principles. Does the bill protect religious liberties or pander to a growing political constituency instead?
Catholic adoption services have been shuttered in Massachusetts (2006), San Francisco (2008), Washington, D.C. (2010), Illinois (2011), and Buffalo (2018); and similar situations are unfolding in Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Illinois, about 2,000 children were displaced when Catholic Charities’ operations shut down. Christine Rousselle, “House committee moves to protect religious adoption agencies,” Catholic News Agency, 12 Jul. 2018.
Children in need of foster care or adoption would have fewer service providers under the Equality Act. Because many faith-based agencies’ principles require them to seek to honor a child’s right to a mother and a father, they would be shut down. This is unconscionable as the number children in foster care, now over 400,000, is increasing in the midst of the opioid epidemic. Contrary to proponents’ claims, the Equality Act’s nondiscrimination clauses would not widen the paths for placing children in need with families; they would do the exact opposite.
Are the bill’s advocates even aware of the impact on religious charities? Do they care?
Counseling and other social and wellness based services are critical to helping disadvantaged persons flourish in many aspects of life. Those who commit themselves to such roles often do so with a love of others that comes from their faith. Faith-based employers in these fields must retain the ability to hire talented people from diverse backgrounds – including religious – who do not publicly act in contradiction to principles of their service organization’s mission.
All other charitable services that would seemingly have little to do with “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” – such as food or refugee services – could still be affected by the Equality Act because financial impacts upon any component of a multifaceted charitable organization would have a ripple effect on others.
Catholic charities do not simply turn away people from needed services on account of their professed sexual orientation or gender identity. They work with all people in every practical way to meet essential needs, including finding alternative or individualized options when necessary. They serve people as individuals, in accord with their human dignity, and should not be stripped of their freedom to operate as such in accord with the Catholic faith.
Emergency, transitional, or other charitable shelters – including but not limited to those run by faith-based organizations – would be required by the Equality Act to house vulnerable, sometimes traumatized, women with biological men or be shut down.
The bill seeks to influence another cultural debate: abortion.
[it] jeopardizes existing prohibitions on the use of federal taxpayer funds for abortion, likely pressuring or even mandating the performance of abortions by health care providers in violation of their consciences, and ultimately ending more human lives
Do legislators intend we shut down Catholic hospitals to advance the cause of abortion?
The same reasoning—and the same conclusion—applies to the bill’s non-discrimination provisions as applicable to federally-funded programs and activities. Indeed, abortion advocates themselves are currently reading the federal funding provisions of the bill to permit women to successfully challenge the denial of abortion.
The bill attempts to influence education, both religious and non-religious.
The Act could lead to schools’ having to change their curriculum to falsely teach children that they can change their sex, and that doing so, and that having same-sex sexual relationships, are the only way for some of them to be healthy (in addition to including LGBT-affirming representation in everything from history to math problems).
It would likely require all fraternities and sororities to become fully co-ed or disband.
The unintended (or are they actually intended?) consequences are legion.
One potential manifestation of this risk was highlighted in a now-famous exchange between Justice Alito and then-Solicitor General Donald Verrilli at the time Obergefell was argued in 2015, in which Verrilli correctly (and repeatedly) acknowledged that, once same-sex marriage is recognized nationwide, many colleges, universities, and other non-profits could lose their tax-exempt status based on their refusal, rooted in religious belief, to recognize same-sex marriage.
Key sections of the Equality Act do not distinguish between public and non-public schools, religious or non-religious. As a result, non-public schools would face almost all of the same impacts as public schools, if they are deemed to be recipients of federal financial assistance or considered “public accommodations” under the bill’s expansive definitions.
The Act’s terms would thus reach all nonpublic colleges and universities that educate students in need of federal student aid, and all non-public schools that provide services to students through federal poverty programs could also be regulated by the Act. Further, religious schools’ prospects for securing relief in court would be greatly diminished as the Act takes the unprecedented step of exempting itself from the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The bill passed both the United States House and Senate with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. RFRA provides a balancing test when the government attempts to restrict the free exercise of religion.
Without RFRA, they are unprotected, but with RFRA, they have a fair opportunity to make their case. Although they should win, there is no guarantee they will under RFRA; but at least they will have their day in court. Once again, this is not a “license to discriminate,” but instead a reasonable attempt to achieve fairness for all.
The bill seeks to influence medical decisions and support gender transition, a morally reprehensible practice, forced upon minors today:
[it] hinders quality health care, by forcing health care professionals, against their best medical judgment, to support treatments and procedures associated with “gender transition.”
Change your views, look the other way, or be subject to lawsuits. Anyone, religious or not, can object to new-fangled 21st-century principles advanced by a government which should have no role in such matters:
Instead of guaranteeing people’s rights to receive basic goods and services and earn a living, which should be upheld, the Act can inhibit the ability of people of faith to earn a living in certain professions. Wedding and event vendors, for example, would be required to apply their craft to celebrate same-sex relationships or “gender transitions” regardless of their sincerely-held beliefs about what marriage is. Employers who provide health coverage to their employees would have to pay to cover “gender reassignment” procedures according to the provisions of the Equality Act.
Individual workers could be expected to express or conform to views with which they disagree to keep their jobs. For example, whether in correspondence among fellow employees or in interactions with the general public, working Americans would be expected to regard others in accordance with their preferred “gender identity” under threat of law. This impacts the freedoms of speech and conscience. Already, some working people may lose their jobs for “misgendering” others, even if they agree to call someone by a preferred name.
Government was the problem in the past when it forced discrimination of blacks and others. It is the problem today as well when it discriminates against those who disagree with its views on sexuality. It is one thing to ask people to accept others’ immutable characteristics; it is another to demand acceptance of behavior we do not all agree with:
Title III of the Civil Rights Act (42 USC 2000b)
Enforces requirement that state and local government facilities, other than schools and
colleges, must grant equal use regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.
§4 would add “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity)” to the list of protected classes.
Government should not discriminate itself, but it should also not force upon us its own subjective (and highly suspect) view of morality. The marketplace does a better job of enforcing these common values. Government essentially asks everyone to accede to its view of sexual identity, while pretending it has the moral high ground. It does not:
employers with 15 employees may not take an adverse employment action
or create or allow a hostile work environment based on someone’s race, color, religion,
sex, or national origin. Under Bostock, “sex” includes “sexual orientation” and
“transgender status.” §7 would expressly add “(including sexual orientation and gender identity)” to “sex.” It also specifies, in §7(b)(3) and (c)(2), that where sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, individuals must be treated in accord with their “gender identity” as if it is their sex.
The bill is supposedly about marriage equality. What does any of this have to do with marriage equality?
Title XI of the Civil Rights (42 USC 2000h et seq.) Contains “Miscellaneous Provisions” of the Civil Rights Act. Inter alia, §9(2) adds a definition of “sex” in laws amended by the Equality Act (EA) to include “(A) a sex stereotype; (B) pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition; (C) sexual orientation or gender identity; and (D) sex characteristics, including intersex traits.” It establishes that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” It defines “sexual orientation” as “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality” and “gender identity” as “the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerism, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” (2) further states that “an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.” §9(3) self-exempts the EA from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the first statute known to do so.
To summarize the Church’s position:
Our core beliefs about the dignity of the human person and the wisdom of God’s design motivate both our positions on marriage, life, and sexuality, and our call to serve those most in need and the common good. By running roughshod over religious liberty, the Equality Act directly undermines the Church’s ability to fulfill that call.
The definition of “gender identity” in the Equality Act (“gender-related identity”) is circular, and therefore unsound. The logical inconsistencies required to maintain gender ideology are abundant: one must believe gender is fluid yet immutable; that “gender affirming” surgeries are medically necessary yet cannot be required before changing a birth certificate; that biological sex is meaningless but traits that are stereotypically anchored to “sex” must be used to define “gender identity”.
Amendment to Protect Religious Liberty Rejected
Utah Senator Mike Lee challenged the bill’s supporters to prove they are for religious liberty. Yet again, our leaders failed to support that which they are on record supporting.
My simple, common-sense amendment would prohibit the federal government from retaliating against any person or group for adhering to sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions about marriage.
Without my amendment, the RFMA would only exacerbate and nationalize the discriminatory policies already in place in Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and the District of Columbia, where religious adoption agencies are essentially shut down unless they recognize same-sex marriage. It would threaten the work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to provide foster care to unaccompanied alien children and place religious adoption agencies at risk of shutting down.
I have yet to hear from a single member of Congress — on either side of this legislation — arguing that the government should discriminate against faith-based institutions and individuals. Quite to the contrary, they argue that this bill would have no such effect, and that the government should never punish religious belief.
Consequently, my amendment should be a no-brainer.
Congress can recognize the ongoing validity of same-sex marriage without trampling on the First Amendment rights of those who believe in traditional marriage. Unfortunately, the current language of the RFMA does not strike that balance. Instead, it elevates the rights of one group at the expense of another.
Comments on the Senate Floor from Mike Lee:
The Next Battle
The Supreme Court this week heard arguments from a Colorado web-designer who has passed up the opportunity to design a site for a gay couple. Why shouldn’t a businessman have the right to reject work? To demand a web-designer or a baker work for you against his own will is no different than what slave-owners demanded. This is beyond government’s scope to regulate. The Constitution allows freedom of association and freedom of speech. We may all disagree with how others use their freedom, but they should be allowed their free will.
The court will likely split the baby: rule against this restriction, but only in certain limited instances. But that would not be the right approach. The Constitution does not call for religious carve outs or say government can intervene in certain instances. The government should never intervene. The government has always been the bigger problem. The court should strike down all such restrictions on private business. This is why the ACLU supported Nazi’s right to protest in Skokie, Illinois. The Nazis appeared foolish when more counter-protestors showed up, but still they have the right to march. Their freedom did not lead to more such protests. It discredited them even more.
If the so-called conservative Supreme Court does not throw out all restrictions, the progressives win the argument. Freedom, as long as it does not physically harm another, should be unrestricted, ugly or not.
For more on matters of faith: https://seek-the-truth.com/category/faith/
For more on transgender and gender matters: https://seek-the-truth.com/category/trans/