|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times columnist: Legitimate interests in gay marriage and religious rights

    • email print
      Comment
  • It appears certain that in the near future gay marriage will be legal in much if not most of the U.S.
    Recent national polls have shown that for the first time a majority supports the legalization of same-sex marriage. In three of the four state referendums on gay marriage in the 2012 elections, anti-gay marriage forces were defeated.
    Most notable of all, conservative columnist George Will has pointed out that opponents of gay marriage are literally dying off: Among people 30 and younger, gay marriage is supported by margins of two and three to one — strong opposition to gay marriage is largely restricted to people 65 and older.
    However, the legalization of gay marriage does not settle all issues involved with this most controversial topic. There remain millions of Americans who believe gay marriage is a violation of the laws of their religious faith and hence refuse to endorse it.
    This issue of the rights of believers versus the rights of gays wanting to get married has surfaced here in Kansas in the Freedom of Religion Act, which passed the Kansas House but was sent back by the state Senate for revision.
    It's important to recognize both sides of this issue have a reasonable case to be made for themselves.
    To the supporters of gay marriage, there is the heritage of the civil rights struggle — until the Supreme Court struck down these laws in 1967 there were a number of states in the U.S. where it was illegal for blacks and whites to get married.
    And yes, in recent years a number of state referendums have been passed banning gay marriage, but in 1900 I doubt a single state in the nation would have voted to allow black-white marriage.
    But, defenders of the rights of believers also have a cause with a lot of noble associations: We as a nation have long prided ourselves on the right of believers to refuse to do things they feel deeply violate their faith.
    When we had a draft, members of historically pacifistic churches like the Quakers and Mennonites were not required to serve in combat units — generally such individuals served as combat medics and often showed great bravery in doing so — and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not required to salute the flag.
    The First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion practice, and for centuries believers of a wide variety of faith have flocked to America because of our national pledge that here they can freely practice their faith.
    So, people on both sides of this debate over gay marriage and the rights of believers are going to have to do what is arguably the most distasteful thing to do in modern U.S. politics: Agree to a compromise that fully satisfies neither side.
    Page 2 of 2 - As I say, compromise is the ultimate dirty word in modern U.S. politics:  Advocates like to “shake the rafters” with absolutist rhetoric like, “I can doing anything I want with my body,” or “You can have my gun when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers."
    But, what looks good on a bumper sticker is usually a poor basis for public policy.
    My suggestion to the Kansas Legislature and all other legislative bodies considering laws on the topic of religious freedom and gay marriage is they accept that any legislation they craft is going to have to be a “messy compromise” that is sure to infuriate true believers of both sides.
    Despite that fact, they should draw up such legislation because both sides in this debate have legitimate interests that deserve to be protected.

        calendar