The New Jersey attorney general’s civil rights division is going after United Methodists for allowing one of their facilities in the state to be used by the general public for weddings but not same-sex civil union ceremonies, in accordance with church discipline. The United Methodist Church isn’t some fringe fundamentalist sect, but the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the country.
When I wrote a while back that the Rick Warren flap revealed that some supporters of same-sex marriage seek to “completely marginalize opposition to same-sex marriage and treat traditional Christian beliefs about human sexuality as morally equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism,” some commenters protested that the same could be said for opponents of same-sex marriage. One, attempting to rephrase my initial post, suggested that social conservatives “treat traditional libertarian/liberal beliefs about human sexuality,” whatever those are, “as morally equivalent to nazis or fascists.”
I’m sure you can find plenty of intemperate statements along these lines by individual social conservatives opposing same-sex marriage. But I don’t know of any who wish to use civil rights or hate crimes laws to in effect criminalize the beliefs of the other side. When anti-sodomy laws (which I strongly opposed) fell earlier in the decade, there was no significant socially conservative campaign to reinstate them comparable to the campaign to reinstate the antiabortion laws that existed prior to Roe v. Wade. Yet churches that continue to adhere to their traditional teachings are subject to legal harrassment unless they want to become the legal equivalent of a small private club or cigar bar.