Laws redefining marriage have forced religious organizations to shutter their foster and adoptive ministries because they are unable to place children with same-sex couples. Among other examples, this senseless religious intolerance occurred immediately following the redefinition of marriage in the District of Columbia, even though many other foster and adoption agencies were willing and able to place children with same-sex couples.
After a court redefined marriage in Massachusetts, public schools began teaching young elementary-school students that same-sex marriage is worthy of celebration. Parents who objected for religious reasons asked to excuse their children from these lessons. Yet a court denied parents even this modest religious protection, stating that because “Massachusetts has recognized gay marriage under its state constitution, it is entirely rational for its schools to educate their students regarding that recognition.”
Redefined marriage laws have also compelled organizations with deeply held beliefs about marriage either to recognize the same-sex unions of their employees or to stop providing spousal benefits to all employees. In the District of Columbia, a Catholic organization terminated benefits to all of its employees’ spouses just so that it could continue to operate consistently with the dictates of its faith. And in New York, an employee of a Catholic hospital sued her employer demanding that it recognize her same-sex relationship and provide benefits to her partner.
Additionally, laws redefining marriage have also forced public servants with sincere religious convictions about marriage to resign from their positions. In New York, at least two municipal clerks suffered this fate. Similarly, in Saskatchewan, the courts refused to safeguard the conscience rights of marriage commissioners, despite the fact that the province had more than 370 marriage commissioners, most of whom did not object to presiding over a same-sex ceremony.
All of these examples, which are but a few of the many that could be cited, illustrate the bleak prospects for conscience rights and religious tolerance in a culture that embraces genderless marriage.
Sound logic, scholarly consensus, and recent experience all demonstrate that redefining marriage presents a significant threat to religious liberty. We as a society thus face a crossroads and must decide whether to change marriage to satisfy the demands of a few despite sacrificing the religious freedom of many. We should collectively choose to affirm marriage, decline to deviate our course, and continue along the road where religious liberty—a bedrock of our civilization—may flourish.