8:09 AM, Jun 29, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Justice Anthony Kennedy, while dictating one of the most sweeping social changes in history in his opinion in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that legalized same-sex marriage across America, waxes magnanimous towards foes of the expansion of the millennia-old definition of marriage. He said those who believe same-sex marriage is wrong may "reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged" in the court's pronouncement. Likewise, President Obama spoke deferentially of "Americans of goodwill" whose "[o]pposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs."
But these statements are platitudes at best; more likely, they are simply disingenuous. In a previous Supreme Court opinion, United States v. Windsor, Kennedy characterized the Defense of Marriage Act as calculated to "degrade or demean" same-sex couples, hardly a "decent and honorable... premise" by any definition. And the president has often compared the treatment of gays wishing to marry with the treatment of blacks prior to civil rights legislation in the 1960s. Certainly the president would not characterize opponents of racial equality as "Americans of goodwill" simply following "sincere and deeply held beliefs."
So while Kennedy and the president pay lip service to religious freedom when it comes to the same-sex marriage, the American Civil Liberties Union is more forthright. Even before the decision was handed down on Friday, the ACLU's deputy legal director Louise Melling made clear in a Washington Post op-ed that toleration for religious liberty claims when it comes to same-sex marriage and gay rights issues in general is wearing thin. "[R]eligious liberty doesn’t mean the right to discriminate or to impose one’s views on others," Melling wrote.
On the surface, Melling's view may seem to be at odds with Kennedy's summation of his opinion's effect on religious liberty:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.
But to what end? Even if the debate continues unhampered by further government intrusion on religious liberty, what can opponents hope to accomplish short of a constitutional amendment? Even if public opinion swings back in favor of traditional marriage, Kennedy's majority opinion has cut-off the legislative route. The above paragraph ends with:
The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.
Even if 100 percent of the voters in a state opposed same-sex marriage, no state law or state constitutional amendment would withstand Kennedy's ruling. The last amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the twenty-seventh, was ratified in 1992, 202 years after it was introduced. Before that, the most recent amendment was ratified in 1971. This country does not amend the Constitution lightly, but even if it were to happen in this case, the process would not be a rapid one.
And how would opposition be treated during that time? As "decent and honorable"? As holding a "sincere" belief? Louise Melling of the ACLU provides the more likely answer:
The climate change crusade gains a prominent leader. Jul 6, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 41 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Ever since the environmental movement began it has had a religious fervor: Like God, Earth is always capitalized, and there is an annual celebration, Earth Day, rather like holidays celebrated by other religions. Of course, the dogmas of green religionists have changed over time: Prophecies of a new Ice Age gave way to forecasts of global warming, and those to a more all-purpose fear of climate change. Fair enough.
7:14 AM, Apr 22, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Speaking Tuesday at the 45th Annual Washington Conference of the Council of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry said that "countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law." Kerry said that a "new kind of relationship" with Latin American countries, emphasizing democracy and human rights, will contribute to "our common ag
8:12 AM, Apr 9, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry has often spoken to the Muslim world during his tenure, particularly during the past year as negotiations with Iran have intensified and conflict with the Islamic State has escalated. But what Kerry has not said during the past twelve months is also significant. A review of the secretary's official remarks and statements noting special dates on Islamic, Perisan, and Arab calendars shows a sharp contrast to his relative silence on Christian and Jewish occasions.
7:32 AM, Mar 30, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
During President Obama's tenure, religious Americans have been increasingly marginalized by an administration that can be intolerant or at least unaccomodating of beliefs that conflict with its policies, regulations, or legislative goals. Perhaps most notably, President Obama campaigned by expressing support for traditional marriage, more than once citing his Christianity as the basis for his position, a position he later "evolved" away from. This has not stopped the president, however, from invoking scripture in support of other items on his agenda.
9:21 AM, Feb 15, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
In an effort to sign up as many consumers as possible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the Obama administration has gone to extraordinary lengths to partner with churches and other faith-based groups, even publishing sample church bulletin inserts, flyers, and scripts for announcements, as well as "talking points." These materials are part of the "
10:38 AM, Jun 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
7:01 AM, May 15, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Ben Carson is warming to the idea of running for president. Since the famous brain surgeon retired last year from Johns Hopkins Hospital, he’s been speaking around the country to enthusiastic audiences. And they’ve affected his thinking about seeking national office.
World Vision and the definition of marriage.May 19, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 34 • By TERRY EASTLAND
On March 24, World Vision, one of the nation’s best-known Christian relief and development nonprofits and one of the world’s largest charities, announced that it would no -longer exclude from employment, on its stateside staff of 1,100, Christians who are in legal same-sex marriages. Two days later, having heard from church partners and supporters who disagreed with the decision, the board rescinded it. Thus, as before, no one in a same-sex marriage may work for World Vision.
9:45 AM, May 7, 2014 • By ADAM J. WHITE
This week, the Supreme Court affirmed a New York town council's tradition of beginning its meetings with a prayer. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court held, by a bare majority, that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause does not prohibit such prayers led by local clergymen, even when the prayers tend to be Christian.
7:28 AM, May 5, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
During a talk to the U.S. embassy staff in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the first stop on his trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry remarked about what he called the "different cross-currents of modernity" and the challenges they present on the African continent.
3:33 PM, Apr 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Amid the usual news stories this Easter Sunday – accounts of the president’s family attending church and the pope addressing multitudes – there is this startling and vastly hopeful headline:
'It’s not even close.'7:01 AM, Apr 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Former New York City mayor is pledging to spend $50 million this year to push gun control, the New York Times reports. For this and other deeds (such as taking on obesity and smoking), Bloomberg believes he's going to heaven.