‘Equal dignity’ at heart of gay marriage ruling

THE

RECENT U.S. SUPREME COURT ruling on gay marriage isn’t going to end the debate, but those fighting the ruling don’t have demographics on their side. Young people overwhelmingly support the right of gays and lesbians to have the legal right to marry.

For those who argue gay marriage violates God’s will, the law doesn’t force churches to marry same-sex couples in their sanctuaries.

The bigger issue that likely will find its way back to the Supreme Court is how the recent ruling clashes with the First Amendment, that reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Complicating matters is balancing that clause with a clause in Amendment 14, which reads that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

So now we have the right of same-sex couples to marry, which means those couples fall under the “equal protection” clause. Meanwhile, we have those who say homosexuality violates their religious beliefs and argue that being required to accommodate same-sex couples in their businesses violates the “freedom of religion” clause.

Sounds like a lawyer’s dream come true.

For many older Americans this change has come at them pretty quickly, so maybe it’s best to take a deep breath and ask yourself this question: Regardless of your religious beliefs, how does the recent Supreme Court ruling affect your ability to live your life and exercise your religious freedom?

This issue could well now play out in a number of church congregations as they decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in their sanctuaries. The

Supreme Court ruling says same-sex couples have the legal right to purchase a marriage license, be wed and have all the legal rights as heterosexual couples in the eye of the law. Churches are still free to make their own rules of who they bless with marriage ceremony.

The majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court same-sex couples’ “hope is not to be condemned to live a ruling says that in loneliness ... . They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”

Baking a wedding cake or renting a reception hall to a same-sex couple need not clash with the owners’ religious beliefs. You don’t have to condone another person’s lifestyle choices to provide them “equal dignity” in business transactions and how you otherwise treat them, and how they treat you.

Too many people in this world inflict pain and suffering on others simply because they are perceived as “different.” Millions in the Mideast have been killed or been forced to flee simply because of what they believe or how they live their lives. We should learn from that chaos how ridiculous it is to harbor strong negative emotions toward other people whose choices don’t affect ours.

This issue will continue to play out in workplaces, churches, courthouses and in our politics. But hopefully it won’t fuel unneeded anger and hatred toward anyone. Goodness knows there’s already way too much of that on our planet. — Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, July 1


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