A new policy paper from The Heritage Foundation warns that the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex unions “poses significant threats to the religious liberties of people who continue to believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.” These threats are acknowledged by both those who support and those who oppose redefining marriage, according to to Thomas M. Messner, a Visiting Fellow in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at Heritage. Some “talking points” from Same-Sex Marriage and the Threat to Religious Liberty:
— Judicial decisions redefining marriage to include same-sex unions state that limiting marriage to men and women is a form of unacceptable discrimination against homosexuals.
— The freedom to express the view that marriage involves a man and a woman will come under growing pressure as courts, public officials, and private institutions come to regard the traditional understanding of marriage as a form of irrational prejudice that should be purged from public life.
— Individuals and institutions that believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman could lose access to government benefits and become subject to costly lawsuits under nondiscrimination laws that protect sexual orientation, gender, and marital status.
— Given America’s long history of protecting the basic human right to religious liberty and the role of religious liberty as a pillar of free society and liberal democracy, lawmakers have a serious obligation to uphold religious liberty and to provide exemptions where laws would force people to violate their religious beliefs.
In California, opponents of Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that affirmed traditional marriage, are turning their ire on the Mormons. According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints “got into the thick of the California battle when officials issued statements encouraging members to actively support the ban. All told, Latter-day Saints are estimated to have given, by some counts, as much as $22 million to the effort.”
Proposition 8 was backed by Orthodox bishops in California and won strong support from blacks and Hispanics:
Exit polls showed that 70 percent of black voters, and a majority of Latino voters, voted yes on Proposition 8, one likely reason why the measure won a slim majority in Los Angeles County, where pre-election polls had suggested it would lose, even though it lost by a huge margin in the Bay Area.