On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States doubled down on the newly popular perspective that same-sex marriage opponents are motivated by hate and nastiness. Making little pretense at legal reasoning, the Court declared that the Defense of Marriage Act was just a government attempt to "degrade or demean" homosexuals. While the Court ultimately declined to make same-sex marriage the law of the land, it paved the groundwork for such a decision. Meanwhile, public opinion polls now suggest that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. Make no mistake: Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land within the next several years.
The ramifications of that move are stunningly far-reaching. The argument that gay marriage doesn't affect straight marriages is a ridiculous red herring: Gay marriage affects society and law in dramatic ways. Religious groups will come under direct assault as federal and state governments move to strip them of their non-profit statuses if they refuse to perform gay marriages. Public schools across the country will be forced to teach homosexual marriage alongside traditional marriage. Religious business owners will be leveraged to pay for benefits for same-sex spouses.
In the left's view, all of this is to the greater glory of humanity. In the leftist view, there is no freedom to associate or freedom of religion if those rights come into conflict with the left's view of morality. Religious florists must provide flowers for gay weddings; religious organizations must pay for abortion and contraception. What you do in your church makes you immoral, says the left -- so immoral that your church must be removed from the public square or forced to bow to the power of the state.
For years, the left proclaimed that conservatives seek a theocracy, that religious Americans are the domestic equivalent of the Taliban or other religious fundamentalist dictators. That wasn't true; placing the Ten Commandments, the foundation for Western civilization, in public view is hardly beheading religious dissenters. But that rhetoric had an impact. It sent religious Americans into retreat. For several decades, religious Americans have abided by an unspoken libertarian agreement: You leave us alone, and we will leave you alone. And so the debate largely ended with regard to legislation on sexual mores. It largely ended with regard to public displays of religiosity.