Thursday, July 30, 2015

Same-sex Weddings

Whether we agree or not, the courts have ruled that same-sex marriage is allowed. The next question is, “are citizens to be forced, as a condition of employment, to enable same-sex marriage?”

This battle started long before the latest Supreme Court decision. Photographers have been fined for refusing to photograph same-sex ceremonies, and in Oregon a bakery was ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. In Indiana, a homosexual group searched for a business that would not cater same-sex weddings and finally found a small-town pizzeria that would refuse such business. After threatening phone calls, the establishment temporarily closed its doors.

Are such refusals illegal discrimination or are they protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution? That amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” And the 14th amendment is understood to extend that prohibition to the states. Note that this is a “one-way” restriction, it prohibits government action but places no restrictions on citizens or churches. And it protects more than the right to worship; it protects the right to free exercise of religion. Exercise means action. Citizens may act according to their religious beliefs, unless such action harms others.

But what of the discrimination aspect? Does the Constitution protect discrimination? That is not as simple as it first appears, and there are two issues involved:

First, action vs. inaction. While the law can prohibit discriminatory action, refusal to act is another matter. Give race-based preference in hiring or promotion? That is not only illegal but unethical. Give directions to a white man but refuse the same help to a black man? You can do that, even though you are a jerk if you discriminate in that manner. The law does not mandate action, even helpful action.

Second, there is a difference between discrimination based on what people are vs that based on what they do. People are born black, white, brown etc. and may be born with same-sex attraction*. That is what they are, discriminatory action based on that can be outlawed. Those people have no control over what they are (though there is some question about that for those with same-sex attraction**). Discriminate on the basis of what people do? We do that all the time. Lock up the thief, refuse banking services to the meth dealer, even deny legal advice to the businessman who wants to do something legal but unethical? No problem, if we fail to discriminate on the basis of actions, we will not have an orderly society.

Both issues affect businesses that refuse to support same-sex marriage. First, they are not merely being asked to refrain from harmful actions, they are being asked to take a specific action. Second, such weddings are a celebration, not of what people are, but of actions that many regard as sinful. The same-sex wedding celebrates homosexual actions, something all three major religions in this country condemn.

Though we should not discriminate on the basis of what people are, we must discriminate on the basis of what they do. Indeed the Indiana pizzeria does that. Homosexuals are welcome to partake of their pizza in the course of normal business. However, the owners refuse to join in or support a same-sex wedding which is a celebration of homosexual actions. That kind of discrimination should be allowed.

*The question of what causes same-sex attraction remains unanswered. However, the one thing that cannot be the cause is pure genetics. There may be a genetic component, but if it were purely genetic that trait would be naturally selected out in a few generations.

**The question of if same-sex attraction is inherent or can be changed is likewise unanswered. For example, Glasser in his book, Reality Therapy, describes one homosexual who changed and became a normal heterosexual man. Nor is that the only example. The homosexual lobby would claim that people who change were never real homosexuals but there is no way to verify that.

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