“Same Sex Marriage” and Its Threat to Religious Liberty

Tactics used by gay marriage campaigners confirm believers’ worst fears.

As wildfires blazed in California last week, anger at the outcome of the state’s referendum on marriage blazed across the country. After a hard-fought campaign over Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, a clear majority of California voters endorsed it, and the gay marriage lobby was enraged.

Now, as same sex marriage campaigners take the issue back to the courts, it is unclear what the outcome of this battle will be. Will their demands trump the democratic process? It has happened before.

What is clearer than ever is that same sex marriage threatens religious liberty. Disagreement over the extent of that threat played a key role in the debate over Proposition 8. As an independent consultant to the campaign, I must say that the post-election behavior of the opponents of Prop 8 does not reassure religious believers.

The editor of a new book, Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts, summarizes the general issue this way: “All six contributors (to the book) — religious and secular, left, center and right — agree that same sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty.” The demand for same sex marriage brings in its wake a demand for identical treatment of same sex couples and opposite sex couples. Churches that resist this demand can have their tax exempt status challenged, can be investigated by “human rights commissions,” and can have parts of their operation shut down completely.

The Yes on Prop 8 campaign applied this argument in print and electronic ads. “Churches could lose their tax exempt status,” we said. “People could be sued for their personal beliefs.” The opponents of Prop 8 replied by calling us liars. Their argument was, “No church will lose its tax exempt status for refusing to perform same sex weddings.”

Note the sleight of hand: we made a general statement that churches could lose their tax exempt status, as well as have other legal problems. The opponents of Prop 8 brought up the one issue — refusing to perform weddings — which they knew the court had specifically exempted from legal challenge. On this basis, they accused us of misleading the public.

I personally was asked many times whether pastors would be forced to bless same sex unions. I told people the pastors were probably safe for now, but that the trend was not encouraging. The most likely outcome, I consistently said, was that the zone of religious freedom would become steadily more constricted. We cited many cases to support this prediction.

Catholic Charities in Boston shut down its adoption agency, rather than comply with the anti-discrimination requirement for the placement of children. A Knights of Columbus chapter in Canada was sued when it refused to rent out its hall for a same sex wedding reception. A Christian marriage counselor lost her job when she referred a lesbian couple to another therapist, rather than counsel them herself. A Christian photographer was fined by a Human Rights Commission in New Mexico because she refused to take pictures at the commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple.

The No on 8 forces claimed that the cases we brought up had nothing to do with marriage. Gays had used anti-discrimination law in these cases, not marriage law, to sue and otherwise harass churches and religious people. (In fact, marriage was an issue in some of the cases.) In effect the gay lobby argued: “We already have all the legal authority we need to do all sorts of Dreadful Things that You Don’t Like, so vote no on 8.”

Oddly enough, people of faith were not reassured by this message.

But refusal to take the religious liberty argument seriously was not the only way the No on 8 forces showed their hostility to religion. On the Sunday before the election, our opponents ran a truly despicable hate-filled ad against the Mormon church. The ad ran the day before the election, when it was almost impossible to respond to it.

Proposition 8 won the election. Over six million people voted for it for a whole variety of reasons. It is safe to say that the religious liberty argument played a significant role. People waved signs that said, “Proposition 8 = Religious Liberty” and “Proposition 8 = Freedom of Speech.” Even though no one could predict the exact form the legal harassment might take, many voters decided the risk to their own churches was unacceptable.

In the aftermath of the election, the No on Prop 8 forces have taken to the streets, attempting to de-legitimize the election. Their behavior toward religious people amply confirms our worst fears.

The gay lobby targeted the Mormon church. Thousands of protesters surrounded Mormon temples in Los Angeles and in Salt Lake City in an obvious attempt at intimidation. Protestors carry signs saying, “Mormon Scum,” a sentiment that would be widely condemned as bigoted if directed at anyone else. Envelopes with suspicious white powder arrived at the Mormon church in Utah and the Knights of Columbus headquarters in Connecticut.

People have called for the LDS church to lose its tax exempt status. An enterprising reporter found that the LDS spent a grand total of less than $3,000 in an in-kind contribution. The other “Mormon millions” were small contributions by thousands of individual members of the church. Gay activists are scouring the election law, looking for minor violations the church or its members might have made.

This attempt to enlist the government for intimidation actually illustrates the point that concerned us throughout the campaign. If you cross the gay lobby, they will use the legal system to go after you. By passing Prop 8, the voters declined to give the gay lobby any additional legal tools.

The authors of Same Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty were not exaggerating. The drive for same sex marriage really does clash with religious liberty. The nation-wide post-election outburst gives Yes on 8 voters all the evidence they need that they did the right thing.

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  • dennisofraleigh

    If what Dr. Morse informs us about were not bad enough, we face the prospect now of a man on the verge of assuming the office of POTUS who has made one of his top legislative priorities the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of “same-sex” friendly legislation equal in scope to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Were that to occur I think it safe to predict that this nation would soon be witness to a grotesque and massive social upheaval equivalent to what happens to a country’s currency supply when it is suddenly flooded with counterfeit money. Applying this same principle to traditional marriage, a kind of social “Gresham’s Law” will kick in, effectively destroying the unique and privileged status of the man/woman union in marriage as God intended it, or as Sir Thomas Gresham explained the principal in simple terms to Good Queen Bess: “Bad money drives out good.”

  • elkabrikir

    Christians have brought all this on themselves!

    Once contraception was allowed in 1930 by the US Episcopal church (shock!!) for use by married couples for serious reasons, the seeds on gay “marriage” were sown.

    Christians continued the attack on marriage by increasing contraception use and then began using abortifacent IUDs and the Pill to satiate their lust. Next came much more frequent adultery and out of control divorce and remarriage. Many children of those blasphemous, fraudulent marriages lack any understanding of or have a role model for a holy, sacramental marriage. Jesus says to them, “But for your hardness of heart Moses allowed divorce. But it was not so in the beginning.”

    Catholics are as complicent in the denigration and downfall of marriage as any other christian.

    Until all Christians live a life of fidelity to chaste marriage, all forms of sexual immorality will proliferate. Christians have zero moral authority on the issue of marriage, and Satan knows it.

  • momof5

    Living in AZ we are closely watching what is happening in California as we too voted in favor of marriage between a man and a woman. Thank you for this article which seems to name much of what is at stake.

    I am reading Christopher West’s book, “The Good News about Sex and Marriage” and I can’t recommend it enough. While I always knew that marriage was to be between a man and a woman as instituted by God in Genesis, I could never properly verbalize it past that. Using Theology of the Body, the book so thoroughly explains and details the “whys” behind not only marriage, but also sexuality, same sex unions, contraception and the like. He paraphrases JPII by saying:”As sexual attitudes and behaviors go, so goes marriage. As marriage goes, so goes the family. As the family goes, so goes society.” Further he states that, “Human life its dignity and its balance, depends at every moment in history and at every point on the globe on the proper ordering of love between the sexes.” The seemingly unrelated topic, sex, cuts to the very core of the problem that has been decades in the making.

    I have been studying TOB for some years now and cannot express how important knowing and understanding this teaching is. It will give us the language, the understanding and the words to verbalize the “why’s” behind what we know and believe to those who are confused, lost or angry.

    And as it reminds us all in today’s Gospel, “Be vigilant at all times
    and pray that you have the strength
    to escape the tribulations that are imminent
    and to stand before the Son of Man.”

  • goral

    The notion that marriage is what any interest group wants it defined is so grotesquely perverted that it defies reason. Allowing a band of “God cursed sodomites” to define it is the height of moral cowardice.
    These double-gated crusaders will not stop until they own the “moral” and legal ground to enforce their back-to-front idea of social order.
    We lost the battle in CT because our clergy was leading decadent catholic voters the way they want to be led.
    Don’t tell us that we’re loosing our civilization, our minds, and our souls.
    Tell us how wonderfully christian, tolerant and sensitive we are for holding the chain link on the anvil while Lucifer keeps extending the chain that will bind us.
    Evil demands are a black hole, never filled, never satisfied. We’ve already witnessed smoke and fire billowing out of windows in this country. We’ll see more as the demands get more unreasonable and more violent.

  • bwnasca


    Very powerful. Very prophetic. Thanks……………..ben

  • Warren Jewell

    Fiercely bright comments, you Christians!

    Full of the Spirit, the light from your fires is wondrous to behold.

  • CherylDickow

    Because the future of our families are truly at stake here, I highly recommend the “All Things Girl” series by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller and Monica Cops. We need to educate our girls early on to so that they build their house upon rock and not the sand of what is happening in our world. The simple truths of JPII’s Theology of the Body and Feminine Genius are woven throughout these books in ways that both tweens and parents love.

    These books teach the Truth so that our precious children will be able to withstand all that is now at our doorstep!

    The titles are:

    Friends, Boys, and Getting Along
    Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, What is Beauty, After All
    Girls Rock!
    Modern and Modest
    Journal for Prayers, Thoughts, and Other Important Things

    Visit the author’s website at http://www.RunwaytoReality.org for the best Christmas gifts for your kids!

  • aurit

    Casti Connubii

    Humane Vitae

    Theology of the Body

    We have the tools. This is what PJPII was preparing us for. We need to start at the parish level and educate our Catholic breathern.

  • elkabrikir


    tell us how you really feel!

    The imagery……ah!!!!!!

    Cotton Mather couldn’t have propounded as vividly.

    My 11 children will be holding the Crucifix and their rosaries before Lucifer as he attempts to ensnare them and suck their lifeblood.

    I’ll be cheering them on with excerpts from Casti Connubi, Humane Vitae, and Theology of the Body….

  • gadjmljj

    You are soooo right! Contraception IS behind this all and where it “began”.

    So many Catholics who should have the “fullness of faith” do not live and undertand the meaning and purpose of marriage. I know when I first got married I didn’t really either…but by the Grace of God being open to this ONE teaching made all the difference in our marriage and growth in our Faith. Because the Grace of the Sacrament of marriage can work when we follow the teachings of the Church.
    Yes, it can be difficult at times….but the blessings are sooo abundant!
    Mother Teresa said “for love to be real it has to cost you something” Sacrificial love is the highest form of love.

    God help us to believe in YOUR ways again!

  • marcey

    The only answer to the absurd ways in which the pendulum has swung to the liberal left is to get the next generation, our progeny, steeped in the truths of the Catholic Church. I couldn’t agree with Cheryl more when she recommends the book series by Teresa Tomeo. My daughters and I eagerly awaited the next book in the series (Modern and Modest) which is now out and couldn’t be more pleased.

    Next to “Girls Rock” this new one is our favorite. Any parents wishing there were messages that were Catholic but could somehow keep their kids attention because they deal with real things, this is it.

    When the vocation of marriage comes up in “Girls Rock”, it isn’t about same-sex but about responding to God’s call. And we can all be sure God’s call isn’t for same-sex marriages.

    I just love these books and feel a huge sense of gratitude to the authors for helping me teach my daughters well.

  • Piper

    Every parish should have continuous teaching programs on Humane Vitae for adults and trained Chastity speakers for teens of all ages. The Truth must be allowed to be taught so Catholic Christians can recognize lies when proposed. Otherwise, many a good meaning person can easily be swayed by this culture of death.

    Continued prayer and sacrifice called for!

  • Lena

    Honestly, this is ridiculous. The idea that your religious freedom is being violated by giving OTHER people MORE freedom is absurd. What I essentially saw you say in this article is this: You should have the “freedom” to not let others act upon their own religious beliefs under the nondiscriminatory eyes of the government. Should I also have the “freedom” to control what you say? Because essentially what you are proposing (The prevention of the establishment of same-sex marriage, i.e. complete legal realization of equality) directly conflicts with your main argument. You want to inhibit freedom of religion so that you can protect freedom religion. Interesting idea. Let us all follow your utterly brilliant logic, and burn down our houses so that we may protect them from fire. Please, kindly inform me as to the results of the real life application of your new philosophy, and the area in which you obtained this alleged doctorate degree.

  • Athe

    I just cannot wait for you all to realize how idiotic you were 40 years from now (if it even takes that long). “No gay marriage, it hurts our faith!”. Wasn’t it “No interracial marriage, it hurts our children/faith/community/moralities” just a few years back? I can’t wait to laugh with my children at the old pictures of you religious protesters and your out of date, ultra conservative protest signs, just as we do now in the history books concerning anti racial equality. Hopefully religion itself will be on its way out by then, anyway.