Many religious people and groups will bow to, if not exactly endorse, the power of gay activists. Witness Rev. Rick Warren, who on "Larry King Live" this week came very close to recanting his support for Proposition 8. Rick did not quite do so. What he did, instead, is what many good people will do in the face of the massive campaign of intimidation and harassment designed to silence Christians and others of good will who support marriage: He dodged. Rick said, more or less: I am not now and never have been an anti-gay marriage "activist."
Let me be clear. I have enormous respect for Rick Warren. What has happened to Rick, who did nothing more than speak from his pulpit to the members of his own church on Proposition 8, is what lies in store for many good men and women. The deal they will be offered by the government and the culture dominated by same-sex marriage is: Mute your views on marriage so you may continue your other good works. Many good and brave people, to preserve their ability to save lives in Africa or to protect the poor in this country, will take that deal.
I'm not here to criticize him or them -- merely to point out the underlying power of the movement that can get a Baptist minister to recant about marriage on national television.
Take it seriously. On a religion and the law list-serve, the widely respected UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who favors same-sex marriage, took time out to acknowledge that the religious liberty implications of same-sex marriage are not "scaremongering."
"It seems to me plausible that judicial decisions banning opposite-sex-only marriage rules would likewise come to be extended -- by legislatures or by courts -- to go beyond their literal boundaries (a decision about government discrimination) and instead to justify bans on private discrimination," Volokh wrote. "It seems quite likely that they will spill over into diminishing any constitutional (or Religious Freedom Restoration Act-statutory) claims to engage in such discrimination by private entities, including Boy-Scout-like organizations, churches, religious universities and other institutions."
Is Vermont the beginning of a new willingness on the part of the powerful gay-marriage movement to let Christians be Christians? Or is Rick Warren the future of Christians in America?
Time will tell.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.