The Nation's Pulse

Entrusting Marriage to Liberals/Progressives

The left’s evolving hierarchy of “rights.”

By 2.28.14

UPI
Send to Kindle

What’s happening in Arizona and elsewhere is precisely what I’ve warned people about for some time: Don’t entrust liberals/progressives with the institution of marriage. You do so at great peril to the culture and republic. It’s bad enough to acquiesce to their breathtaking efforts to suddenly redefine an ancient, natural, and Biblical institution. It will be far worse to deal with the unforeseen consequences of their actions.

You cannot and should not dare trust them with this power.

Outside of Arizona, here’s a picture of what we can expect, based merely on a few recent cases:

In Oregon, a couple that owns a bakery, the Kleins, are being sued and called before the state for not making a same-sex wedding cake. The Kleins note such an action violates their Christian beliefs and religious freedom, but the forces of “tolerance” refuse to tolerate the Kleins’ beliefs.

In Colorado, another bakery owner, Jack Phillips, awaits a possible jail sentence for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In Ocean Grove, New Jersey, a Methodist camp meeting association lost its tax-exempt status for declining its wedding pavilion to two lesbians for a same-sex ceremony.

In Washington State, a florist is being prosecuted by the state’s attorney general for declining to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

In Massachusetts and Illinois, Catholic Charities, one of the oldest and most established private adoption agencies in America, has been forced to cease services because it will not provide adoptive children to gay couples.

In New Mexico, the state Supreme Court ruled against the owners of Elane Photography, judging that they violated the state’s Human Rights Act by refusing to take pictures for a same-sex “commitment ceremony.” The ACLU, champion of “civil liberties,” opposed Elane Photography. In a telling display, the concurring judge recognized that the ruling violated Elane’s religious freedom but argued that such is the price of “citizenship” in the new fundamentally transformed America.

And then there’s any number of figures demonized, boycotted, attacked, or fired for expressing their opposition to gay marriage: the president of Chick-fil-A, the owner of Barilla pasta, Craig James of Fox Sports, and now Arizona’s governor, who is being bullied by (among others) the NFL, which, in turn, is being bullied by gay-rights groups and liberals.

Liberals tolerate only things they agree with.

All of these cases preceded the Arizona blow-up, and they are far from isolated examples. All involve believers invoking their sacred First Amendment rights of religious freedom, and, in each case, the self-anointed apostles of “diversity” and “tolerance” angrily rejected those rights. You are not free to disagree with liberals on this issue. They won’t let you. They will compel you via force. They will see you in court, in bankruptcy, in jail, or — who knows — one day perhaps even something worse.

Am I surprised by their behavior? Absolutely not. I’ve watched this develop. With “liberals,” nothing surprises me. You can expect few of them to bat an eye as they deprive rights to an entire category of people (religious believers). They will swim along with the zeitgeist. They will move with the herd, stampeding conscientious objectors with vicious language and unyielding actions. They are what G.K. Chesterton called “children of their age.”

What’s going on here? Well, to repeat, this is what you can expect when you bestow unto liberals/progressives the unprecedented ability to redefine something as fundamental as marriage. They will abuse it big time.

But more than that, their actions aren’t a surprise when you delve deeper into the logic of their ideology. Consider:

Liberals/progressives have a hierarchy of rights. They don’t look at competing rights in a normal way. For instance, Americans typically — through the political process, the courts, etc. — have carefully sought to balance competing rights: property rights, civil rights, religious liberty, freedom of conscience, speech, press, federal rights, state rights, the right to life, and so forth. Picture all of these rights laid out in a line, with each thoughtfully considered among the others.

Unfortunately, that is not how liberals/progressives operate. They act according to a hierarchy of rights that — consistent with progressivism — is always progressing, or changing, or evolving. Right now, for liberals/progressives, sitting atop the totem pole in this hierarchy are so-called “marriage rights,” not to mention “abortion rights.” In the past, they called these things not rights but “gay marriage” or “freedom of choice.” Quite shrewdly, however, they’ve magically converted these “freedoms” into “rights,” along the lines of “civil rights.” It’s a brilliant propaganda ploy that will work nicely with millions of easily duped Americans whose buttons can be pushed.

But here’s the main point: for today’s liberals/progressives, the likes of “marriage rights” and “abortion rights” rise superior to other rights, certainly above religious rights and property rights. We see this in the “gay marriage” examples listed above. It also applies to the Obama HHS mandate requiring religious believers to fund abortion drugs. In all these cases, there’s one commonality: liberals/progressives could give a damn about the religious rights and property rights that they are steamrolling in the name of gay marriage and abortion. Religious rights and property rights are subjugated to a kind of liberal/progressive gulag. They are deemed bottom-of-the-barrel, and in no way nearly as important or worthy of consideration.

Again, the shocking irony is that these very same people fancy themselves as great apostles of tolerance, diversity, and “equal rights.” It’s sheer nonsense. It has never been true, and they are proving it now with special uncompromising crassness.

A quotation that sums up this thinking comes courtesy of gay activist and EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum. When asked about the conflict between gay rights and religious rights, Feldblum said, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”

I bet she is. All that time teaching law at Georgetown University, school of Sandra Fluke, taught Feldblum nothing about religious freedom. An attorney colleague of mine says of Feldblum: “Supposedly a Constitutional Law scholar, she holds that view despite the fact that religious freedom is actually in the Constitution!”

Yes, but to the progressive it doesn’t matter. What’s in the Constitution is irrelevant, which is why it’s maddening to hear liberals profess their love of the Constitution when it serves their purposes.

Finally, one more arresting thought. It’s quite instructive that liberals/progressives spent the last few decades undermining religion in the public square: No Ten Commandments on courthouse walls. No prayer in schools. No Christmas trees on public property. Back then, the tool they used was another form of abuse: their twisted misunderstanding of church-state separation. Now, they’re going after religion in the private sector as well. This time the cudgel is gay marriage. They’ll grab whatever club they can wield, but, in the end, the result is the same: an undermining of religious faith. On that, they are consistent.

All of which brings me back to my original question: Do you really want to entrust something as sacred as the institution of marriage to these people? I plead with libertarians and wishy-washy Republicans: Do you realize what you’re doing in acquiescing to this push? You give liberals/progressives this power, this newest ability to redefine and remake basic “rights” in their own image, and there will be hell to pay.

You will lose your freedom. Right now, religious liberty and property rights are under the guillotine. 

 

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.