On June 26th, same-sex marriage legislation as well as amendments to the state public accommodation laws were enacted in all 50 states, under the Supreme Court’s ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges.
While gay couples all around the nation stormed the streets and churches with a whole universe of rainbow colored banners and outfits, many Americans observed in horror what they saw as a direct violation of their First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.
“The legalization of same-sex marriage and the amending of state civil rights laws to include sexual orientation have resulted in situations where Americans have been forced to choose between their livelihoods and their religious convictions,” noted Mark David Hall, a professor at George Fox University and a researcher on American political theory.
Religious activists argue that the amending of such legislation infringes upon the American government’s neutral religious stance under the establishment clause.
“Virtually every civic leader in America—conservative and liberal, libertarian and socialist—agrees that governments should not, in the words of James Madison, compel ‘men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.’ By the late 20th century, it was rarely that an elected official would even consider explicitly dictating or banning a religious practice.”
Moreover, it is observed that the passing of the Freedom to Marry bill forces businesses and other organizations to participate in a practice that goes against their fundamental faith with no legal protection.
The professor continued, “They [the state] have acknowledged the importance of religious liberty by exempting clergy and explicitly religious organizations from these statutes. Generally neglected in these statutes are exemptions for business owners who have religious objections to participating in same-sex wedding ceremonies.”
However in an attempt to reconcile differences, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has sought out special sanctions through a provision called the First Amendment Defense Act.
“The Act is a very reasonable, rational, carefully drawn protection. It would simply say that the government cannot target you, cannot single you out, and cannot punish you or your religious institution based on a religious belief that a marriage is between a man and a woman,” explained the Utah Senator.
Currently, the new bill has signatures from 37 senators and 135 representatives.
“Regardless of how you feel about marriage, in a pluralistic society like ours, we need to be able to respect each other’s religious beliefs and certainly your government should be able to do the same.”